Brains On! Science podcast for kids

Brains On! Science podcast for kids

Brains On!® is a science podcast for curious kids and adults from American Public Media. Each week, a different kid co-host joins Molly Bloom to find answers to fascinating questions about the world sent in by listeners. Like, do dogs know they’re dogs? Or, why do feet stink? Plus, we have mystery sounds for you to guess, songs for you to dance to, and lots of facts -- all checked by experts.

Episodes

July 20, 2021 35 min

A fire can be super useful or cozy or even magical. But it can also be dangerous -- and in the case of wildfires, if they burn long and hot enough, they can destroy ecosystems and send lots of harmful smoke into the air.

In this episode, we're going to find out why wildfires are getting bigger and why wildfire season is lasting longer now. We'll learn how the tribes who've lived in what is now called Northern Californi...

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Today we’re sharing an episode with you from our friends at?Million?Bazillion, the podcast that answers the questions kids have about money. They help dollars make more sense and they’re back for a whole new season!?

?In today’s episode, hosts Jed and Bridget answer a question from two curious listeners who want to know why we pay taxes.?In answering the question, they come across the legendary Robin Hood, known for his hatred of t...

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In this episode, we're tackling all the mosquito questions that have been bugging our listeners. Why do they bite? Why do the bites itch? Is scratching them a good idea? Why do some people seem to be more delicious to mosquitoes? How can we keep them away from us? And are mosquitoes good for the world? The Hoax Hunters make an appearance plus the Moment of Um answers the question, "What is a solar flare?"

This episode ...

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You know that feeling where you get a snippet of a song stuck in your head and it loops over and over? Those hard to shake songs are also known as earworms, and in this episode Molly has a particularly sticky one in her brain.

We'll find out why some songs are catchier than others and, most importantly, scientifically-proven ways to get rid of them.

Plus, we'll hear a mystery sound and a Moment of Um that answers the ques...

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Adults around the world are getting vaccinated against the coronavirus, and now, in a handful of countries (including the U.S.) kids over 12 can get vaccinated too.

We hear from a 13-year-old who participated in a clinical trial for a vaccine and get tips for how to navigate the world when only some people in your family are able to be vaccinated. Plus, Kara and Gilly share expert advice on how to handle big feelings as the world ...

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June 22, 2021 28 min

We treat dogs like they're part of the family. But do they know they are a different species, or do they think they're just short, four-legged people?

In this episode, canine cognition researcher Alexandra Horowitz helps us puzzle out this question. We’ll also find out what happens (or doesn’t) when a dog looks in the mirror. Dogs are always dozing, and we’ll check in to see if they are dreaming too. And, we take a quick tr...

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June 15, 2021 39 min

There’s no better way to celebrate our 200th episode than with our own shining star: the sun! In this episode we speak with Dr. Nicola Fox, who leads a team of NASA scientists that sent a probe to collect data and zoom by the sun. We also hear some great listener suggestions on what new planet could be added to our solar system. We even get a chance to check in with The Sun and her weekly broadcast, That’s Hot.

Our 200th episode w...

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June 8, 2021 28 min

We’ve all played the “what does that cloud look like” game. Maybe you saw a bunny… or an airplane… or a unicorn. What if that same cloud could also be seen by someone in a far off continent? That’s what a listener in Minnesota wondered. He wanted to know if the same cloud he saw in a park near his house could also be seen in Africa.

We talk to Deanna Hence, one of our favorite weather experts, and she tells us about how clouds tra...

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There’s more to sloths than slowness. They’re great at saving energy, hanging upside down, and swimming! In this episode, Sloth Appreciation Society founder Lucy Cooke stops by to tell us all about these amazing animals. We also get into a sloth mystery: The Case of the Perilous Poop Journey. Luckily, there’s a sloth sleuth on the case. And sloths aren’t the only animals who aren’t in a hurry — a few others show off their slowest s...

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If you translate “Hello! How are you?” to binary code, it looks like this: 01001000 01100101 01101100 01101100 01101111 00100001 00100000 01001000 01101111 01110111 00100000 01100001 01110010 01100101 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 00111111

This episode takes a look at how computers can do so much with such tiny parts. But computers weren't always small -- so we take a look at where computers came from. We visit Ada Love...

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 Brains On has a very special milestone coming up -- it’s almost our 200th episode! To celebrate, we're re-listening to our very first episode which was all about eating. We'll play the episode and chime in with commentary to give you some behind the scenes glimpses and backstories along the way. We’ll also hear an update from our very first co-host ever -- Ian Roberts, who is now a college student and an adult. Plus a bran...

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That fuzzy sandwich in your fridge? Yeah, don't eat that kind of fungus. But the mushrooms in your stir fry? Or the yeast in your bread? Or the rind on your brie? Or the miso in your soup? All of those delicious foods are possible thanks to fungus!

In this episode, we'll learn about how our ancestors first figured it out some mushrooms were safe to eat, we'll learn about the microbes that make cheese possible, and we&#...

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Fungus deserves a party because it’s everywhere and super important to life on this planet. The kingdom of fungus includes mushrooms and molds, but also yeasts, like the kinds that help make bread. So today, we’re embracing the ick, we’re snuggling up to the slimy, we’re making friends with mold and mushrooms… It’s a full on Fung-o-Rama! We'll learn about a day in the life of mold, a fungus that turns ants into zombies, and how...

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March 30, 2021 35 min

Will we ever get to rewind time, or fast forward through it? Sanden stops by to tell us all about how time works. He also has a couple ideas about how we might make time travel a reality! But one tricky thing about time travel is that it’s full of paradoxes — so we look into those, too. And science fiction expert Lisa Yaszek swings by to tell us just how long humans have been thinking about time travel (hint: a really long time).

...

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March 23, 2021 37 min

What's that you hear? That's right, It's an episode of nothing but mystery sounds! Are your ears up to the challenge? Plus, we'll hear an answer to the question: "How do squirrels find their nuts after they bury them?"

If you'd like to submit a mystery sound, you can share it with us here: brainson.org/contact.

And, you can support the show at brainson.org/fans.

Or, you can also buy our book, complete wi...

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Screens are everywhere these days! We’re taking a look at why smartphones are so addictive, and how our devices affect us. Our co-hosts took on a bold challenge for this episode: they went a week without phones or tablets. We’ll hear how their experiment went, then Sanden will fill us in on the brain chemical that trains us to love our screens. We'll also learn why the predictability of messages and alerts on smartphones makes ...

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March 9, 2021 30 min

Did dinosaurs roar? Or meow? And how do we know? Paleontologist Julia Clarke stops by to talk about sounds T-Rex might’ve made. We know a bit more about other dino sounds, and dinosaur expert Riley Black fills us in on those. Plus, a game about dinosaur names, and a look at how dinos might’ve moved with paleontologist Jingmai O’Connor.

Stick around for the mystery sound, and a Moment of Um that answers this head-scratcher: How doe...

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20 years ago, we pictured dinosaurs as green, scaly animals. But times have changed! Now, we know some dinosaurs had feathers. And who knows — maybe some even had stripes.

This episode looks at how we figure out what color dinosaurs might’ve been. We talk to Jingmai O’Connor, who studies fossil reptiles, about finding color pigment in fossils. And paleoartist Emily Willoughby talks to a “museum” about how her dino-depictions have ...

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February 23, 2021 28 min

In this episode, we're using our zoom ray to zoom way in and answer your questions about the COVID vaccine. What's in the COVID vaccine? How does it work? And how do they make it? We'll also look at how our fight against the new coronavirus has had a huge impact on another virus: influenza. And, we'll head to a stadium to learn what 95% effective means for a vaccine. (Warning: There are seagulls overhead!)

Plus, we...

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February 16, 2021 27 min

In this encore episode, we answer the questions: How does the moon control the tides? Where do waves come from? And what’s it like to live in a tide pool?

Sir Isaac Newton drops by and drops some knowledge. He helps explain why the tides ebb and flow. Then, an oceanographer/surfer tells us where waves come from and how they get their shape – cowabunga! Plus we hear about what it’s like for marine life that move to a new neighborhood...

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