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

October 19, 2021 35 min

This episode shines a light on crystals, and they’re sparkling right back at us! We’ll zoom way in on a diamond to understand the structure that makes crystals special, and hear about some unexpected crystals, too (hint: chocolate chip cookies contain a few different crystals!). Then, we take a look at how crystals form and get their cool colors. Plus, Marc and Sanden hunt down a hoax about Mesoamerican crystal skulls.

And! A mys...

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In many places, tree squirrels are extra busy these days. It’s time for them to collect nuts to prepare for winter! So we’re heading to a squirrel-themed adventure course and practicing a few of the skills they use to survive: gathering nuts, traveling in trees, and speaking like a squirrel. We’ll also learn about how squirrels evolved, and hear about some of their surprising relatives.

Plus, a mystery sound and a moment of um: wha...

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Eighteen months into our fight with this coronavirus, it may feel frustrating that we're still in this battle, but there are many reasons to feel hopeful. One reason is that we know a lot about this virus now and have plenty of tools to fight it. We meet the superheroes prepared to help us defeat the coronavirus: Sgt. Socially Distanced, the Masked Mentor, the Testmaster and the Vaxinator! Plus: Gilly, one half of the hit podca...

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September 28, 2021 36 min

After getting a firsthand look at the history of trash, we’re having visions from garbage’s present and future this week. Producer Kunsang Dorjee visits a landfill to see what happens to our trash after we throw it away, and producer Ruby Guthrie shows us how we can make less trash and dispose the trash we do make in ways that are better for the planet. Plus: we hear from a kid who helped her class produce almost no waste during th...

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September 21, 2021 35 min

A pair of ghost shoes visit Molly with a message: it's time to think about garbage. They predict that Molly will be visited by three visions of garbage, one from the past, one from the present and one from the future.

Today, Producer Sanden Totten takes us on a time traveling journey to see how we started making all this trash in the first place. Plus: the Moment of Um answers the question: Are yawns contagious to animals?

N...

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Breathing is a really cool thing. We breathe automatically without thinking about it, but we can also control our breath and play with it. We'll learn how our lungs work and why our bodies need this air in the first place. We'll also hear from a singer and a free diver about how they've trained their breath to do remarkable things -- and how you can too! And we'll talk to a doctor about how deep breathing can help y...

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When one of our listeners wrote in with an animal sound mystery (What sound does a giraffe make?) we set out to find an answer. We came back with lots of other fascinating animal sounds, so we decided it was time for an all-animal mystery sound extravaganza! Open up your ears and get ready to play!

Plus, our Moment of Um answers the question: Why do daddy long legs have such long legs?

Our sponsors:

Indeed (Indeed.com/brainson)

...

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July 27, 2021 38 min

Today we’re looking at a phenomenon that happens to all of us: losing our baby teeth and getting new ones! So how do our teeth grow in and what makes them fall out? Naturally, a group of wandering teeth helps us explain. We'll also find out why we have two sets of teeth in the first place. A chatty tooth travel agent will introduce us to all the different ways to send our baby teeth off in style and we'll play a game that w...

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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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