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.... Show More

Episodes

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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February 9, 2021 35 min

When you've got a crush on someone, it can feel a bit overwhelming. All of a sudden, you might have butterflies in your stomach! And maybe you find yourself acting differently than you normally would. Why does our brain do this to us anyway? In this episode, we'll answer a slew of your crush-related questions: Why do we get crushes? Why do they make you feel so many feelings? How do you decide who you have a crush on? Plus,...

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February 2, 2021 36 min

HARVEY, our omnipresent virtual voice assistant, gets a software update that makes him go bananas for bananas. And if we talk about anything except bananas, he turns the microphones off! We talk to geneticist Dr. Janina Jeff about how much DNA we share with a banana, find out why bananas make other fruits ripen, how bananas grow, and where that slipping on a banana peel joke came from. Speaking of jokes, we'll hear a bunch of b...

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In December, people started getting vaccinated against COVID-19. This is a huge scientific accomplishment and important step in making it safe for us to hang out in person again. So how did scientists develop these vaccines so fast? And how did they test the vaccines to make sure they’re safe? And how do these mRNA vaccines work?

We have answers to all your questions, plus New York Times science journalist Apoorva Mandavilli expla...

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Today we have a special episode featuring an old friend of ours -- scientist and inventor Gitanjali Rao. Time Magazine recently named her the first-ever Kid of the Year!

We first met Gitanjali back in 2018, when she was the co-host for a series of episodes we did all about water. Back then, she was a 12 year old who had recently won 2017 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge.

Now, she's a very busy 15 year-old who ...

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January 12, 2021 35 min

Synthesizers are a very recent invention, especially when you compare them to acoustic instruments, like pianos and guitars. In this episode, we learn how these machines with keys, knobs, switches, buttons and sliders actually make sound. We’ll also travel back to the 1960’s and hear how synth pioneers like Bob Moog helped bring these sound making devices into the mainstream. Plus, we’ll check in with Suzanne Ciani, who has been us...

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January 5, 2021 30 min

If habits are really stuck, we don't think much about them -- we just do them! Some habits are good (like brushing your teeth in the morning) and others are not as good (like biting your nails).

Today we find out what parts of our brains help us form habits and why it's actually super useful to not have to think so hard about everything. Gungador tries to break a bad habit, and we find out the best tips for ditching habits...

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November 25, 2020 15 min

We’ll be back with new episodes in January. But we wanted to share another show with you that we’ve been working on: Smash Boom Best!

It’s a debate show where we take two cool things, smash them together and let you decide which one is best. Today we’re sharing with you an excerpt from a debate featuring our very own Sanden Totten: Flowers vs Rainbows

Sanden is repping team flowers and our good friend Joy Dolo, host of Forever Ago, ...

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October 27, 2020 32 min

Bones! They’re spooky. They’re creepy. They’re utterly fascinating!

This episode we dig up the science behind skeletons. We’ll look at how our bones grow, what happens when we break a bone and why bones last so long. Plus, we’ll meet a talking skeleton who will help us bone up on bone trivia!

And we have a mystery sound to tickle your auditory ossicles and a Moment of Um that answers the question: Why does time fly when you're ha...

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October 20, 2020 36 min

Having a sibling is a special thing -- but, wow, can they be annoying! In this episode we’ll look at why our brothers and sisters are so good at pushing our buttons. Plus, is there any truth to the idea that oldest kids are the most mature and the youngest ones are the most charming? We’ll look at the science of personality and birth order. We also visit a sibling drive-thru, get quizzed about animal relationships and answer this q...

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October 13, 2020 33 min

The flu shot changes every year. But why is the flu special, if other illnesses have much longer-lasting vaccines? This episode takes us into the world of viruses and immunity.

We released this episode about flu vaccines last year but we wanted to share it with you again since it’s flu vaccine season but also because vaccines are in the news a lot lately. Scientists are testing a bunch of vaccines for the new coronavirus right now. ...

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If time feels weird to you lately, you’re not alone. The pandemic has changed the pace of life for people around the world. We’ll talk to a psychologist about how our sense of time works. We’ll look back into the past to see how a similar pandemic played out 100 years ago. Plus, we’ll ask experts to tell us what they think life will be like six months from now.

Oh yeah, and virus podcasters Kara and Gilly are back to tell you how...

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September 29, 2020 31 min

How are mountains made? What causes an earthquake? How does hot lava come bubbling up? The answer in each case is…tectonic plates!

These are giant, moving slabs of rock covering the Earth’s surface. When they slide past or smash into each other it shakes the planet. But, they also helped shape the land we live on.

Find out how they work with an extreme cooking demonstration (you’ll never see peanut M&Ms the same way). Meet the ...

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September 22, 2020 26 min

A listener asked how making  Brains On is different during the pandemic. So with this episode we're giving you a peek into how we're making the show while staying safe. Spoiler alert: we're doing it all from our homes!

What's the best way to record crystal clear sound at home? (Hint: Lots of soft surfaces!) How do we make sound effects? How do we get all the animals, humans and machines in our homes to keep it dow...

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September 15, 2020 28 min

In this second episode on bees (a bee-quel, you might say!) we’re taking a look at pollination: the many pollination talents of different bees, why pollination is so important, and what you can do to help wild bees! 


The tables are turned in the Mystery Sound department: our beekeeping cohosts have a sound for Menaka and Sanden to guess! And the Moment of Um answers an age-old stumper: how are alligators and crocodiles different?

...

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September 8, 2020 28 min

We’re making a big buzz about bees! Our pollen-collecting friends get so much done, and we’re taking a look at how they live. We’ll bust some bee myths and meet some honeybees for a look at life inside the hive. 
Our mystery sound is from a listener (here’s a hint: they recorded the sound in Alaska!), and our Moment of Um answers a buzzworthy question: Why do beehives look like hexagons? 
And! One episode on bees just isn’t enough. W...

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Those tiny pinpoints of light glittering in the night sky are actually incredibly distant, giant, churning balls of gas. They produce huge quantities of light and heat. In this episode, Mars interviews the biggest star in his eyes: the sun! We also ask astronomer Moiya McTier to help us count all the stars in the universe. And we'll hear a couple of the stories that people here on earth tell about the stars. Plus, a brand new m...

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August 25, 2020 35 min

Fair warning: Today we’re gonna get gross! We’re talking sounds, smells, and tastes that some people might find repulsive. But we're asking: why? What's the purpose of disgust? Is it something we're born knowing or do we learn to dislike things? When will entomophagy (the eating of insects) catch on everywhere? Plus: The Moment of Um answers the question "Why do worms come out when it rains?"

Today’s episode is s...

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Warning! This episode is all about the fascinating and gross world of doo doo.

We know you have a lot of poo questions because you’ve sent many, many of them to us. So we’re finally bringing you the poo answers! It’s a poop party!

We’ve invited scientists to tell us about weird animal feces. (It’s true! Wombats have cube-shaped poop!)

We tune into a news channel all about dookie (see the Bristol Stool Chart here: https://www.bladdera...

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