But Why is a show led by kids. They ask the questions and we find the answers. It’s a big interesting world out there. On But Why, we tackle topics large and small, about nature, words, even the end of the world. Know a kid with a question? Record it with a smartphone. Be sure to include your kid's first name, age, and town and send the recording to email@example.com!
Why do people have blood, what is it, and what does it do? How do our bodies make new blood? Is it red or blue? Why does blood taste like metal? And why do we have different blood types? Our listeners have a lot of questions about blood. We learn about blood with UVM Medical Center and Larner College of Medicine pathologist Dr. Sarah Harm. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript
How do water slides work and how are they built? Why do you have to be a certain age or height to go down a water slide? Where does the water in water parks come from? And which is easier to design and build: a water slide or a roller coaster? First we did a little research of our own at Jay Peak Pump House Water Park. (And by “research” we mean “going down the water slides.”) And to teach us more about what’s actually happening when you take your thrill ride, we talked with water slide engineer...more
In this episode: part two of parentisms- you know, the things adults like to say that may or may not be true. So many of these sayings have to do with food: Eating carrots will improve your vision. Drinking coffee will make you shorter. Don’t swallow watermelon seeds or they’ll grow in your stomach. We do a little fact checking on this generational eating advice with Dr. Nusheen Ameenuddin of the Mayo Clinic. And we explore a few other sayings you sent us, like why do parents always say, “Next ...more
We wanted to hear about the conventional wisdom, parenting myths, and downright folksy falsehoods adults pass down to kids, and boy did we get a big response! We heard from over 100 of you about everything from “Don’t swallow gum because it will stay in your stomach forever” to “Slouching will crush your organs” to “If you don’t take a shower after swimming in the pool, your hair will turn green.” In this episode (the first of two), with the help of pediatrician Nusheen Ameenuddin of the Mayo Cl...more
In addition to having faces that look like a smiley emoticon, axolotls are as fascinating to scientific researchers as they are to kids because of their amazing ability to regenerate parts of their bodies, including their brains! In this episode we answer kids' questions about these curious salamanders with Dr. Randal Voss, a professor at the University of Kentucky. That lab alone has thousands of axolotls, but these creatures are critically endangered in the wild, where they live exclusively in...more
What do bison, moose, Gila monsters, parrots and snails have in common? Well….nothing, except they all appear in this episode! We’re rounding up some of the animal questions you’ve sent us lately. Why do bison walk slow but run fast? What’s the thing hanging down from the neck of a moose? Why do Gila monsters bite? How do parrots talk? Why do snails have slime? Answers from the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance and One Earth Conservation. Download our learni...more
As we close out 2022, Jane and Melody look back at some of their favorite episodes of 2002. Why do we have friends? Why are some people left-handed? Why do pigs oink? And why is Russia invading Ukraine? Did you have a favorite episode? Let us know! Kids can record a video talking about a favorite episode and then tag us on social media or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Episode Transcript Full episodes Why do we have friends? Why are some people left-handed? Why do pigs oink? Wh...more
How do big cargo ships and ferries float, even though they are so heavy? Why do boats float but stones sink? How do paddles make boats move? What’s inside those enormous container ships? We learn about the physics of floating with Fahad Mahmood, professor of physics at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. If you do any of the activities we mention in the episode, send us your videos! Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript
Why do armadillos have shells? How do they roll into balls? Why are sloths so slow? Can sloths actually move fast? How do they defend against predators? Why do they have such long nails? We learn about two unique looking animals in this episode: sloths and armadillos. These mammals are part of an ancient superorder called Xenarthra and share a common ancestor. To get answers to kid questions about armadillos we took a field trip to Texas to talk with Michael Perez at the Forth Worth Nature Cente...more
Emoji are those little images you can send in text messages to friends and family. Nine-year-old Leila in New Jersey wants to know how they were invented. So in this episode we find out with Jane Solomon, editor at Emojipedia and Paul Galloway of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. We learn what the first emoji looked like, way back in the dark ages of the 1990s and we explore how emoji may be a new trend, but communicating through pictures is a very old tradition. Plus, are emoji…art? Give th...more
But Why has answers to your dinosaur questions! When did the dinosaurs live? How many species of dinosaurs were alive in the Cretaceous period? How do dinosaurs get their names (and why are they hard to say)? Why are dinosaurs extinct? We visit Dinosaur Valley State Park in Texas to see some actual dinosaur evidence: tracks left by two types of dinosaur 113 million years ago. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, Texas has sever...more
Kids love cheese! (So do adults: Americans consume an average of 40 pounds of cheese per person per year.) In this episode we learn how cheese is made and answer all of your cheesy questions: Why are there different types of cheese? Why do cheeses have different flavors? How do you make Colby Jack cheese? How does cheese get its color? And why do we say cheese when we take a picture? We visit the Cabot Cheese factory and talk with Maegen Olsen and Panos Lekkas. Download our learning guides: PDF...more
Why do bees pollinate? How do they make honey? Why do bees have stingers? Why do (some) bees die when they sting you? What's the difference between a bee and a wasp? Does honey have healing properties? Farmer and beekeeper John Hayden answers all of your bee questions! Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slides | Transcript | Coloring Page Bees collect nectar from flowers. Nectar is the sweet liquid that entices the bees to the flower. The bees climb onto or into the flower and suck up...more
Why do sharks have multiple sets of teeth? Why do sharks lose so many teeth? Do sharks eat fish? How do sharks breathe underwater? Do sharks sleep? Give a listen to this totally jaw-some conversation about sharks with Dr. Kady Lyons, shark researcher at the Georgia Aquarium! We also tackle: Why are dinosaurs extinct and sharks are not? Were megalodons the biggest sharks in the world? Do sharks have noses? How do sharks communicate? Why do sharks bite? Why are sharks dangerous? Download our lear...more
How do popcorn kernels pop? How do salmon know where to return to spawn? How do rabbits change colors? Why does television fry your brain? How do zippers zip stuff? Who was the fastest runner in the world? In this episode, we'll tackle all of these questions! Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript Inside the husk is a tiny little droplet of water surrounded by something called the endosperm. The endosperm is what you're actually eating when you eat popcorn. When you he...more
Field trip time! Today we’re learning all about snakes while out on a search for timber rattlesnakes in New York with state wildlife biologist Lisa Pipino. Some of the questions we tackle: How do some snakes make venom? Why are some snakes venomous and others are not? Why do rattlesnakes have a rattle? How do snakes slither on the ground without legs? Why don’t snakes have legs? Why don’t snakes have ears? How do they smell with their tongues? Why do some snakes use heat vision? Do snakes sleep?...more
Why do we feel pain when we get hurt? What is pain? Why do we cry when we get hurt? Why do we say ow or ouch? We’re learning about how pain works with Joshua Pate. He’s a physical therapist and author of a forthcoming children’s book series about pain. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript Pain happens when your body sends signals to your brain that something is wrong. And your brain sends signals to your body to feel pain! Pain is protective–it lets us know to stop do...more
Why do friends care about each other? How do you make friends? Can you have more than one best friend? How do you deal with a bully? We answer questions about friends and bullies with Dr. Friendtastic (also known as Eileen Kennedy-Moore), a psychologist and author of Growing Friendships: A Kids’ Guide to Making and Keeping Friends. And we get lots of advice from kids themselves about how to make friends and deal with bullies. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript Frie...more
How are crickets so loud? Why do they chirp at night? How are they different from grasshoppers? We’re talking crickets today with Karim Vahed, a cricket and katydid expert and entomologist (bug scientist) at the University of Derby in the United Kingdom. Professor Vahed also takes on some of your pressing insect questions: Do insects have bones? What do baby bugs like to do? Do insects drink water? Why are bugs so important? Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript There...more
That’s just one of the questions we answer in this week’s episode, which also includes instructions on how to easily make your own ice cream at home! We’ll also tackle the why and how of melting ice cream and why some flavors tend to melt faster than others! Our expert in this episode is ice cream entrepreneur Rabia Kamara, of Ruby Scoops in Richmond, Virginia. It's going to be sweet! Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript After listening, if you're ready to try making ...more
The Washington Mystics of the WNBA join us in this episode to answer all of your questions about the sport of basketball and what it’s like to be a professional athlete. How many basketballs does the team have? Why do balls spin when you bounce them? Who invented basketball? Why are basketballs orange with black lines? Why do men and women play on separate teams? How do injuries impact professional careers? And do you have to be tall to play hoops? Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Sl...more
For the past 50 years, visitors to the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C. have been able to observe giant pandas. It’s one of the few places in the United States to see these black and white bears. For our latest episode we took a field trip to the zoo to visit the three pandas currently living there and answer panda questions with zookeeper Mariel Lally. We tackle: Why do animals live in the zoo? Why are pandas black and white? Do pandas hibernate? How can we save the pandas? And chec...more
When there's mass violence in the news, especially when it involves children, it can be really hard to know how to speak to your kids about what is going on. In this special episode FOR ADULTS, we talk with a child psychologist about some recommended ways to approach these conversations. We first released this episode in 2016, and are heartbroken and angry that it remains so relevant. Dr. Robin Gurwitch is a child psychologist at the Duke University Medical Center, and she has served on numero...more
What is climate change? What is causing climate change? How do you cool down the earth? How is climate change affecting the oceans? Kids are hearing about climate change and they have lots of questions. In this episode we explain the science of climate change and look at how humans will adapt to a rapidly warming planet. We speak with Dr. Claudia Benitez-Nelson, oceanographer at the University of South Carolina and Dr. Jola Ajibade, a geographer at Portland State University. This certainly isn’t...more
Why do flowers bloom? How do flowers grow? Why are flowers different colors? Why do people find flowers beautiful? How are seeds made? Why do plants grow from seeds? Why do we put seeds in the garden? We’re answering your questions about seeds and flowers with garden writer Charlie Nardozzi and Hannes Dempewolf from The Crop Trust. Find more answers to plant questions in two of our older episodes: How Do Big Plants Grow From Such Small Seeds? and Are Seeds Alive? Download our learning guides: ...more
Why are some people right-handed and some are left-handed? And what’s up with some people being ambidextrous (equally good with both hands)? Why, in the past, did some people try to make left-handed people use their right hands? We talk with Chris McManus, professor and author of the book Right Hand, Left Hand: The Origins of Asymmetry in Brains, Bodies, Atoms, and Cultures. We’ll even find out how common left-handedness (or left-pawedness) is in other animals! Download our learning guides: PDF...more
Why do pigs snort? And why do we call their snorts “oink” in English? We’re taking our exploration of animal noises in two directions today. First we’ll learn about why we use different words to describe animal noises, depending on what language we’re speaking. And then we’ll examine what animals are actually saying when they oink or tweet or moo! Our guests are linguist and author Arika Okrent and bioacoustic researcher Elodie Briefer, of the University of Copenhagen. Other questions we tackle ...more
We’re bringing back an episode from the archives, all about the moon: Why does the moon change shape? How much does it weigh? What color is it? Why does the Earth only have one moon? Why does it have holes? Where does it go when we can't see it? Why do we sometimes see it in the daytime? And why does the moon look like it's following you when you're in the car? Answers to your moon questions with John O'Meara, chief scientist at the W.M. Keck Observatory. Download our learning guides: PDF | Go...more
The invasion of Ukraine has been the top story in the news for the last few weeks, and kids around the world are asking questions about what is happening and what it means for them. In this episode we ask Erin Hutchinson, Assistant Professor of Russian History at the University of Colorado Boulder, to help us understand the history behind this conflict. Adults: we don’t go into detail about what war looks like on the ground, but we acknowledge war is a scary topic. You may want to preview this e...more
Violet, 5, wants to know: what was life like before refrigerators? And Ellinor, 6, asks: how did they make ice in the old times? In this episode, we learn about the history of ice harvesting and the industry that built up around it, where ice cut from lakes in New England was shipped to as far away as India and the Caribbean. We hear more about this history from Gavin Weightman, author of The Frozen Water Trade. And we visit Rockywold-Deephaven Camps in New Hampshire, where ice is still harveste...more
Why is the heart a symbol of love? Why do people draw hearts when they love someone? Why do we draw hearts the way we do when they're nothing like the hearts inside of your body? And do we need a heart to love or does the brain do it? We’re learning all about hearts and symbolism with Thomas and Stephen Amidon, authors of The Sublime Engine: A Biography of the Human Heart. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript No one really knows where the heart symbol comes from, b...more
The U.S. Mint is producing a new series of quarters featuring American women. The first one, featuring poet Maya Angelou, has just been released. We're learning about coins are made and how images are chosen for money around the world. The US has a law preventing any living person from appearing on its money. Kenya has a new rule preventing any individual people on their money at all. Meanwhile, many countries with kings or queens have those leaders on their money while they’re still in power. Q...more
What causes wind? How is wind created? Why does the wind blow in different ways? How does the wind start blowing and what makes it stop? Why is it windy by the ocean? Why does it get windy when the weather is changing? How is it you can you feel and hear the wind but not see it? Why is the wind sometimes strong and sometimes cold? Answers to all of your wind questions with National Weather Service Meteorologist Rebecca Duell. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript Wind...more
We asked our listeners: if you could invent anything what would it be? And we got so many fantastic ideas from kids all over the world: a solar cooler, a chimney that changes carbon dioxide to oxygen, a slide that gives you an ice cream cone at the bottom, and more. Some kids would like to invent robots that do their chores, flying cars, teleporting devices to take them back in time, and even a bully behavior zapper. This episode is all about creativity! But how do you take a great idea and tu...more
Why do seasons change? Why does it get darker earlier in the winter and why is there more daylight in the summer? Why are some seasons warm and some are cold and icy? Why do some places not have seasonal changes at all? We’re learning about solstices, equinoxes and seasons in this episode of But Why. Our guide is John O’Meara, Chief Scientist at Hawaii’s Keck Observatory. And kids around the world tell us what they like best about their favorite season. Download our learning guides: PDF | Goog...more
How are babies made? We speak with Cory Silverberg, author of What Makes A Baby, for answers to questions about how we all come into the world. This is a conversation that welcomes all kinds of families as we answer questions about why babies don't hatch out of eggs, why boys have nipples, why girls have babies but boys don't and why some people look more like one parent more than the other. Later in the episode we also explore how we get our last names and how two people can have the same last ...more
Why is the Burj Khalifa so tall? That’s what 5-year-old Simon wants to know. The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world and it’s located in Dubai. 6-year-old Isabel, who lives in Dubai, visited the tower and gives us the bird’s eye view in this episode! Plus, Janny Gédéon, architecture educator and founder of ArchForKids answers lots more questions about tall buildings: How are tall buildings built? How do they stay up? Why are so many buildings squares or rectangles? How do they make...more
Squirrels are everywhere. Three hundred or so species of these often adorable rodents live on every continent except Antarctica. No matter where you live, city or country you’re bound to have squirrels nearby. How much do you know about our bushy-tailed neighbors? How fast do squirrels and chipmunks run? Why do squirrels have big bushy tails? Do squirrels get sick? Why do they like nuts better than berries? How do squirrels eat acorns? How do squirrels sleep? Are squirrels nocturnal? Answers to...more
The FDA recently gave emergency use authorization to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for kids age 5 to 11. With all the news and conversation about this development, kids are curious to know more about the Covid vaccine--and vaccines in general! So in this episode we answer questions from kids and parents, including: Why does it have to be a shot? How do vaccines work? How does a vaccine trial work? Should an 11.5yo get the shot as soon as it’s available or wait until age 12 to get the larger dose? ...more
Why do apples have stems? Why do fruits start out as flowers? How did the first apple grow when no one was there to plant its seed? Why can you make a seedless grape and not a seedless apple? Why are apples so juicy? How is apple juice made? Why are apples hard and pears soft? In this episode we take a field trip to Champlain Orchards in Shoreham, Vermont to learn more about apples. Our guides are 10-year-old Rupert Suhr, his father, Bill, and apple expert Ezekiel Goodband. Download our learni...more
We’re exploring a part of the world that not much is known about—in fact, you could be one of the people who help us understand and learn more about this very important, and very large, part of our earth. The land underneath the ocean is as varied and interesting as the terrain up on dry land—with mountains and canyons, plains and forests. (That’s right, forests! There are kelp forests where the kelp is as much as 150 feet tall!) In this episode, what’s known--and unknown--about the bottom of t...more
Kala wants to know why we say soccer in the United States, when the rest of the world calls the game "football." In this episode we hear from people who make their living in the game: professional players, coaches and commentators. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript “Why is soccer called 'soccer,' instead of being called 'football?'” - Kala, Colchester, Vt. "It's an interesting question because so many people around the world play the game of football," said Dav...more
In this episode of But Why we visit a credit union to learn what money is all about. And Felix Salmon, Anna Szymanski and Jordan Weissman from Slate Money answer questions about why money plays such a big role in modern society. How was money invented? Why can't everything be free? How do you earn money? How was the penny invented? Why are dimes so small? Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript Related Episodes: What Is The Biggest Number? Resources: How To Talk To Kids ...more
Five-year-old Odin in Wyoming is about to start school and he sent us this question: If I’m terrified about kindergarten do I have to go? What should I do if I’m scared? What if kids are mean to me? In this episode, tips and suggestions from our listeners for kids returning to school, along with answers from guidance counselor Tosha Todd and National Teacher of the Year Juliana Urtubey. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript Related Episodes: Why Do We Have To Go To Scho...more
Have you ever been threading one leg through a pair of pants in the morning and wondered…why do we wear pants anyway? Or wondered why pockets in clothing designed for girls are sometimes smaller than the pockets in clothing designed for boys? In this episode we’ll tackle your questions about clothes with fashion historian and writer Amber Butchart. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slides | Transcript “Why do we have to wear clothes?” - Bhakti, 9, Australia Many people think we st...more
What is the cleverest thing hippos can do? This week we’re answering seven quirky questions about animals! Why do elephants like peanuts? Why do cows put their tongues up their noses? Has anyone ever ridden a tiger? How do woodpeckers cling to trees? Why is some bird poop black and some is white? Why do people make animals like sharks and bears sound way scarier than they are? Answers from Keenan Stears of the University of California, Santa Barbara, Christine Scales of Billings Farm & Museu...more
What are fireworks made of, why are they bright and loud, and how do people make them? And, why do Americans celebrate the 4th of July with fireworks? We learn about pyrotechnics with licensed fireworks professional John Steinberg. And David Chavez, an explosives expert at Los Alamos National Laboratory tells us how changes to the materials used in fireworks can make them better for the environment and unleash new, more vibrant colors in the night sky. We also address firework safety and how to ...more
This week, we're revisiting one of our favorite older episodes from the past. We’re going to learn a little bit about the history of noodles--and how to make them! We’re joined by Jen Lin-Liu, author of the book On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome with Pasta and Love. And we also get an exciting hand-pulled noodle demonstration from Tony Wu, who was the executive chef at M.Y. China, a restaurant in San Francisco’s Chinatown, when we originally recorded this audio in 2019. Wu can hand-pul...more
Are seeds alive? What are they made of? Here in Vermont it's planting time, and we've been getting a lot of questions about seeds from kids around the world. In this episode we'll explore the importance of preserving seed diversity with Hannes Dempewolf of the Global Crop Diversity Trust. Crop Trust manages a repository of seeds from around the world at the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard, Norway, above the Arctic Circle. Plus, ethnobotanist and Abenaki scholar Fred Wiseman shares a little bit ab...more
Our guest this week is a lexicographer. That's someone who studies words and, in this case, edits dictionaries. Emily Brewster is a senior editor at Merriam-Webster and host of the podcast Word Matters. Emily answers a question from 8-year-old Emma in Kentucky, who wants to know how words are added to the dictionary. But before we can answer that, we'll tackle 7-year-old Julia's question, "How are new words created?" Join us for an episode about how words are created, when they've reached a cri...more
How do people whistle? How does whistling make a sound? Why does your tongue change a whistle higher or lower? Can you get a trophy for whistling? Can people with laryngitis whistle? Get ready, we learn all about whistling with musician and champion whistler Emily Eagen and musician Yuki Takeda. And who whistles our theme song? We'll hear from musician Luke Reynolds, and a kid whistling chorus from our listeners! Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript How do you whistle...more
How are rocks made? Why are some rocks hard and others soft? How do rocks shine? How are geodes and crystals made? Why do some rocks have gems in them? Answers to your rock questions with Hendratta Ali, rock doctor! Ali is a geologist who studies and teaches at Fort Hays State University in Kansas. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript
Is it OK to do something that you were told not to do and then never tell anybody? In this episode we tackle that thorny question from 10-year-old Finn from Seattle. We'll also wrestle with the question, "Why do people make really bad choices and want other people's lives to be harder?" Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript We're tackling some ethical dilemmas in this episode and we're letting kids give the answers! We also get a response from ABC Radio's Short & Cu...more
Have you ever felt competitive with a friend or a sibling? Competition comes up in a lot of different ways in life. Maybe you're running a race with a friend and you want to beat them! Maybe you're trying to play a song without making a mistake and you're competing against yourself. Sometimes competition feels good and fun. It can make you want to do better, and make a game more enjoyable. But not always. Sometimes competition feels bad. Like it's too much pressure, or takes away from the fun o...more
In the ice age, megafauna roamed North America: mammoths, saber-toothed cats, even giant land sloths! What happened to them? In this episode we answer questions about the ice age: What was it? Did birds live during that time period? How about giraffes? Did people live with woolly mammoths? Why did mammoths go extinct? We'll answer your questions with Ross MacPhee, senior curator at the American Museum of Natural History and author of End of Megafauna: The Fate of the World's Hugest, Fiercest, an...more
In 2019, we answered a question about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a huge mass of plastic and other trash swirling around in the Pacific Ocean. Mary James heard that episode and was so inspired, she created a device to help clean up the plastic in the ocean. In this episode of But Why, we learn about her invention, the mermicorn! Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript Listen back to Why Is There A Big Patch Of Garbage In the Pacific Ocean? Kids: we'd like to know wh...more
On Thursday, February 18th, a robot called a rover is expected to land on the surface of Mars, and begin collecting information scientists hope will help us learn if life ever existed on that planet! We answer your Mars questions with Mitch Schulte, NASA program scientist for the Mars 2020 mission. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript NASA has a number of ways that you can watch the landing live on February 18th at 11:15 a.m. PST / 2:15 p.m. EST / 19:15 UTC. The rover...more
How is chocolate made? Why can't we eat chocolate all the time? Why is chocolate dangerous for dogs? Why do adults like coffee? In this episode, we tour Taza Chocolate in Somerville, Massachusetts to learn how chocolate goes from bean to bar. Then we visit a coffee roaster in Maine to learn about this parent-fuel that so many kids find gross! And we'll learn a little about Valentine’s Day. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slides | Transcript "How is chocolate made?" - Samarah, 8, Jo...more
What makes a cactus a cactus? And what are you supposed to call a group of these plants--cacti, cactuses, or cactus?! We'll find out in today's episode, as we learn more about the cactus family with Kimberlie McCue of the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona. She'll answer kid questions about why cactuses are spiky and how they got those spikes, as well as why teddy bear cactuses aren't actually cuddly! Download our learning Guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript Those prickly spines t...more
Why are whale sharks called whale sharks? Why are guinea pigs called pigs if they're not pigs? Why are eagles called bald eagles if they're not bald? You also ask us lots of questions about why and how animals got their names. So today we're going to introduce you to the concept of taxonomy, or how animals are categorized, and we'll also talk about the difference between scientific and common names. We'll learn about the reasoning behind the names of daddy long legs, killer whales, fox snakes, G...more
As the new year dawns, what are you hopeful for in 2021? Even though the change of the calendar year is mostly symbolic, New Year's Day is often a time for looking back on the year that just passed and setting goals for the year ahead. We asked you to share your hopes and dreams for 2021, from the end of the COVID-19 pandemic to your own personal goals. In this episode, more than 100 kids from around the world offer New Year's resolutions. We'll also hear from Johns Hopkins University epidemio...more
Lots of people are afraid of the dark, including many kids who have shared that fear with us. In today's episode we explore the fear of the dark with Daniel Handler, better known as Lemony Snicket, the author of the Series of Unfortunate Events books, and a picture book for young kids called The Dark. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript | Coloring Page Then we go on a night hike with Vermont Fish and Wildlife biologist Steve Parren, to talk about ways to embrace the d...more
Why are babies small and grownups big? Why are babies so helpless, instead of little versions of adults? Do babies know they're babies? How do babies grow? How do babies learn to talk? Kids have been sending us lots of questions about babies! This week we’re learning more about the development of the human brain with Celeste Kidd, professor of psychology and primary investigator at the Kidd Lab at the University of California Berkeley. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slides | Tran...more
A few weeks ago we talked about why kids can't vote and we also answered some questions about the U.S. Presidential Election. It's been two weeks since the November 3rd election, but we're still getting questions about it! We get answers from NPR political reporter Ayesha Rascoe. TRANSCRIPT Here are some of the questions we're tackling in this episode: What would happen if someone counted the votes wrong? Why is President Donald Trump going to court and why are people saying Joe Biden might no...more
In our most recent episode, we answered questions about really big animals: whales! We covered a lot when it comes to these huge aquatic mammals but there was one big topic we didn't get to: and that's how whales communicate. We'll learn more about the sounds whales make: singing, whistles, and echolocation clicks with Amy Van Cise, a biologist at NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle, Washington. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slides | Transcript
How do whales spray water? Why are humpback whales so fat and blue whales so long, and why are blue whales blue? Do whales have belly buttons? How do you weigh a whale? And how do whales drink water in the salty ocean? We have a whale of a time answering questions about these ocean-dwelling mammals with paleontologist Nick Pyenson, author of Spying on Whales: The Past, Present and Future of Earth's Most Awesome Creatures. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript
In the United States, where But Why is based, we have a big election coming up. Election Day is officially on November 3rd. But more Americans than usual are voting in advance this year, sometimes in person at their town hall or city office. And sometimes by mailing in their ballot-that's the piece of paper where they mark down who they want to vote for. People in lots of states are voting for their governors, who help run their states, or their Congresspeople, who work in Washington to help run...more
This episode may not be suitable for our youngest listeners or for particularly sensitive kids. We're discussing animal ethics with author Hal Herzog. In a follow up to our pets episodes, we look at how we treat animals very differently depending on whether we think of them as pets, food, or work animals. Why do some cultures eat cows and others don't? Why do some cultures not have pets at all? And is it okay to breed animals like dogs that have significant health problems even though we love t...more
Why do dogs have whiskers? Why are dogs' eyesight black and white? Why do dogs have so many babies? Why do dogs have tails and we don't? Why are dogs thumbs so high on their paw? Why don't dogs sweat? Why do dogs roll in the grass? Why aren't dogs and cats friends? Veterinarian and dog scientist Jessica Hekman has answers. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slides | Transcript | Coloring Page | Dog Breed Quiz | Answer Key
Why do cats purr? How do cats purr? Why can't we purr? Why do cats "talk" to people, but not other cats? Why do cats sharpen their claws? Are orange cats only male? Why do cats like milk and not water? Why are some cats crazy? Can cats see color? All of your cat questions answered with Abigail Tucker, author of The Lion in the Living Room. Download our learning guide: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript | Coloring Page
In this installment, we follow up on our March episode about the novel coronavirus now that we know more about COVID-19 and how it spreads. Dr. Krutika Kuppalli, assistant clinical professor of infectious diseases at the Medical University of South Carolina, returns to answer questions about the things we can do to keep ourselves and those around us safe. And we'll learn about what vaccines are, how they're developed and the accelerated process for developing a coronavirus vaccine. Download our...more
How is ice cream made? Why does ice cream melt? Why does some ice cream melt faster than others? We’ll answer your questions about this summery concoction with Rabia Kamara, of Ruby Scoops in Richmond, Virginia. It’s going to be sweet. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Recipe | Transcript
Why do forest fires happen? What happens to the forest after a fire? Sometimes you send us questions about things you've heard about, and sometimes you send us questions about your experiences. We'll hear from 5-year-old Abby in Australia who wanted to know more about the bush fires near her home earlier this year. Liam and Emma tell us about their wildfire experiences in California, and we get answers to your questions from Ernesto Alvarado, professor at the University of Washington. Download ...more
This week, we're getting out our bug nets and talking about dragonflies and ladybugs! Why do ladybugs have spots? How many different types of ladybugs are there? How do they crawl on the ceiling without falling down? Where do dragonflies and ladybugs sleep? Why are dragonflies called dragonflies? Do they bite? We're joined by Kent McFarland, a research biologist at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies and the co-host of another great VPR podcast called Outdoor Radio. Download our learning guide: P...more
In this special live episode But Why had a musical celebration with Mister Chris, the Junkman and May Erlewine, and we heard your songs. You can listen to But Why Live at vpr.org and call-in every Friday at 1 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time through June 26, 2020. This program is in collaboration with the Vermont Agency of Education to bring interactive educational opportunities to students while schools are closed. TRANSCRIPT | EDUCATION RESOURCES
In this special live episode But Why held a discussion about race and racism with the authors of ABCs of Diversity, Y. Joy Harris-Smith and Carolyn Helsel. You can listen to But Why Live at vpr.org and call-in every Friday at 1 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time through June 26, 2020. This program is in collaboration with the Vermont Agency of Education to bring interactive educational opportunities to students while schools are closed. TRANSCRIPT | EDUCATION RESOURCES
In this special live episode learned about trees and tree communication with scientists Alexia Constantinou and Katie McMahen of the Simard Lab at the University of British Columbia. You can listen to But Why Live at vpr.org and call-in every Friday at 1 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time through June 26, 2020. This program is in collaboration with the Vermont Agency of Education to bring interactive educational opportunities to students while schools are closed. TRANSCRIPT | EDUCATION RESOURCES
In this special live episode we held a kid press conference with Vermont Governor Phil Scott. You can listen to But Why Live at vpr.org and call-in every Friday at 1 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time through June 19, 2020. This program is in collaboration with the Vermont Agency of Education to bring interactive educational opportunities to students while schools are closed. TRANSCRIPT | EDUCATION RESOURCES
Why don't spiders stick to their own webs? How do spiders walk up walls and on ceilings without falling? Why do spiders have eight legs and eight eyes? How do they make webs? And silk? What's a cobweb? How do spiders eat? And why are daddy long legs called daddy long legs when they have to have a female to produce their babies?! We're talking spiders today with arachnologist Catherine Scott. Download our learning guides: Transcript| Coloring Page
In this special live episode we learn about words and language with linguist John McWhorter, host of the podcast Lexicon Valley. You can listen to But Why live at vpr.org and call-in every Friday at 1 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time through June 19, 2020. This program is in collaboration with the Vermont Agency of Education to bring interactive educational opportunities to students while schools are closed. TRANSCRIPT | EDUCATION RESOURCES
In this special live episode we learn about space and space exploration with Jim Green, NASA's Chief Scientist. You can listen to But Why live at vpr.org and call-in every Friday at 1 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time through June 19, 2020. This program is part of a collaboration with the Vermont Agency of Education to bring interactive educational opportunities to students while schools are closed. TRANSCRIPT | EDUCATION RESOURCES
What is slime and how do you make it? What makes glue sticky? Why does mixing diet coke and Mentos make an explosion? How does glow in the dark stuff glow without batteries? We're talking about sticky things like slime and glue in this episode. Plus, bonus: explosions! The branch of science we're focusing on is called chemistry. Chemistry is basically the study of stuff and what it's made of, and how different substances interact with one another, sometimes even combining to make new stuff. Our ...more
In this special live episode we learn about poetry and writing with Poetry Guy Ted Scheu, Rajnii Eddins, and we hear your poems! Get your pencils ready; we’ll be doing some fun writing exercises as well. You can listen to But Why live at vpr.org and call-in every Friday at 1 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time through June 19, 2020. This program is part of a collaboration with the Vermont Agency of Education to bring interactive educational opportunities to students while schools are closed. TRANSCRIPT ...more
In this special live episode, we learn about bats and beavers! First up, all about bats with Barry Genzlinger of Vermont Bat Center. Then, we learn about the industrious beaver with wildlife biologist Kim Royar of the Vermont Department for Fish & Wildlife. Listen live at vpr.org and call-in every Friday at 1 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time through June 19, 2020. This program is part of a collaboration with the Vermont Agency of Education to bring interactive educational opportunities to students...more
Where is the border between sky and space? That's what 5-year-old Matthias of Durham, New Hampshire wants to know. Allesandra, 3 of Bella Vista, Arkansas wants to know why we can't hold air. We're going to get scientific, but also philosophical and imaginative with anthropologist Hugh Raffles, astronomer John O'Meara, and, a special treat, cellist Zoë Keating, who scored the episode for us to help us really feel it! Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript
We're sharing a new episode from one of our favorite podcasts, Circle Round. Jane Lindholm co-stars with Molly Bloom (Brains On!, Smash Boom Best) as twin sisters who reap what they sow in this story with origins in Korea, Tibet, Japan and China.
We head to the kitchen to answer cooking and food questions. Why does food taste better with salt? Why do we need salt to make sweet things like cookies? Why do seasonings taste good in food but not so much on their own? Why are marshmallows soft? Why do egg whites go from clear to white when they're cooked? How are expiration dates determined? Answers to your food questions with Molly Birnbaum, host the podcast Mystery Recipe and editor of America's Test Kitchen Kids. Download our learning gui...more
We're talking about teeth with a friendly dentist! How do teeth become loose? Why do our baby teeth fall out? Why do people only have two sets of teeth? Why don't babies have teeth when they're born? Why are teeth white? Why do we have gums in our mouth? How does toothpaste clean your teeth? How does sugar make cavities? We get answers from Theron Main, a pediatric dentist at Timberlane Dental Group in South Burlington, Vermont. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript
We're answering 9 questions that put a smile on our faces, and we hope they make you chuckle, too. Plus, you might actually learn something from some of the answers! Are llamas ticklish? Why do pickles and cacti look alike? What are boogers made out of? How do fish see underwater without goggles? Do skunks like their smell? Do pigs poop? Are elephants afraid of mice? Are jellyfish made of jelly? Why are yawns contagious? Guests include Jo Blasi from the New England Aqarium, naturalist Marry Ho...more
We’re sharing an episode of a Vermont Public Radio's Brave Little State. We know many of you are experiencing some changes now that schools in lots of states and countries are closed to slow the spread of COVID-19. For some families this is the first time you’ve had to try to do something like school at home. But others of you might do homeschooling all the time; and you’ve probably got some great advice for families who are new to this routine! This episode of Brave Little State brought toget...more
As COVID-19 spreads across the globe, the World Health Organization has declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic. We’re answering questions about the virus with infectious disease doctor Krutika Kuppalli, who studies global pandemics. And chemistry professor Palli Thordarson, from the University of New South Wales on the science of why washing your hands with plain old soap and water is so effective against germs. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript
Why do people dream? Why do people have nightmares? How do dreams happen? Can people who are blind can see in their dreams? We're listening back to our episode about dreams with psychiatrist Dr. David Kahn of Harvard Medical School. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript
Why do people need to sleep? How do we actually go to sleep? How does sleeping get rid of toxins in the brain? And how come when it's nighttime I don't want to go to sleep but when it's morning I don't want to wake up? Those questions and more, all about sleep. We're highlighting an episode from 2018 with pediatric sleep psychologist Dr. Lisa Meltzer. And stay tuned; our next episode is all about dreams! Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript
Curious kids are hearing about the impeachment trial of US President Donald Trump. So But Why is helping them understand what impeachment is and what happens when a president is impeached. We'll explain why impeachment is an important part of the US constitution and why impeaching a president doesn't mean removing him or her from office. Our guests for this episode are Loyola Law School professor and legal analyst Jessica Levinson and Kenneth C. Davis, author of Don't Know Much About History and...more
Do animals get married? Do they fall in love and have friends? Do they laugh when they're happy and cry when they're sad? When you talk to your pets, can they understand you? Why can't they speak to us? And do animals know what kind of animal they are? Alyssa Arre of the Comparative Cognition Lab at Yale tackles these interesting questions. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slides | Transcript | Coloring Page
Why do lions roar? Why do crickets chirp? Why do bucks shed their antlers every year? How can porcupines and hedgehogs avoid poking themselves? Do fish pee? What is the fastest fish? What do jellyfish eat? A roundup of animal questions, with answers from Paola Bouley of Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique, Kent McFarland of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, naturalist Mary Holland and Jo Blasi of the New England Aquarium. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slides | Transcript | Color...more
Why do we like to eat certain foods? Why do some people like to eat spicy food? And what's up with kids not liking vegetables? Why does pineapple hurt your mouth when you eat too much of it? Why do we taste things and how? Why do different foods taste different? Do animals have the same taste buds as people? In this episode of But Why we get answers to all of those questions from chef, author, and TV personality Chris Kimball, Dr. Leslie Stein of the Monell Chemical Senses Center, and Vermont-ba...more
In this episode, we tackle why some words are "bad". Plus: Why do people say bad words? Why aren't kids allowed to say cuss words? Why is the middle finger bad? And adults, don't worry, we won't actually be using any bad words in this episode! But we will explore the psychology and brain science behind bad words with Benjamin Bergen, professor of cognitive science at University of California, San Diego. He's the author of What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ours...more
How does water turn into ice? Why is ice sometimes slippery and other times sticky? Why is it so cold? Why does it float? How are icicles made? Why are icebergs mostly underwater? What was the ice age? We'll get answers to all of those questions with help from Celeste Labedz of the California Institute of Technology. And we'll take a trip to the world's largest skating rink, the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, Ontario. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript
How do weather people predict the weather and know what's going to happen tomorrow? Why is a meteorologist called a meteorologist? We learn about weather forecasting with National Weather Service Meteorologist Jessica Neiles and NBC5 Chief Meteorologist Tom Messner. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript
Are unicorns real? Who made them up? Where do they come from? What do they eat, how big are they, and do they have rainbow manes? We're answering all of your questions about unicorns-and learning about other mythical creatures as well with Adam Gidwitz, creator of The Unicorn Rescue Society and Dana Simpson cartoonist and author of Phoebe and Her Unicorn. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript | Coloring Page
In this episode we're answering a few short questions about animals! Are jellyfish made of jelly? Do fish stink in the water or on land? Where do fish sleep? Do chickens have tongues? Can spiders sleep or not? How many types of animals are there in the world? Do snakes live in Antarctica? Is a springbok faster than a grizzly bear? Do skunks have big tails or small tails? Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript| Coloring Page
Why does school exist? When did kids start going, and why is it mandatory? Why are there 12 grades in school? Why do we call teachers by their last names? In this episode, we get schooled on school by sociologist Emily Rauscher and National Teacher of the Year Rodney Robinson. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript
This week, we answer a question from 4-year-old Hugo in Burlington, Vt. Hugo wants to know how noodles are made. But he's about to get more than he bargained for! For this episode we visit a restaurant called M.Y. China, in San Francisco, CA to watch executive chef Tony Wu hand-pull 16,000 noodles in 2 minutes. The restaurant's owner, chef Martin Yan of the PBS show Yan Can Cook narrates the action. And to give us some historical context, Jen Lin-Liu, author of On the Noodle Road: From Beijing ...more
How is paper made from trees? Why does paper fall apart when it gets wet? Why does it lose color in the sun? Who invented paper? We make a few sheet of paper and learn all about how it's made with artist Carol Marie Vossler at BluSeed Studios in Saranac Lake, New York. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Step By Step | Transcript
This episode is all about bugs! We've gotten a lot of questions from you about insects and other critters. So we're tackling them with the help of Jessica Honaker and Kristie Reddick, otherwise known as the Bug Chicks. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript
Why do earthquakes happen? How do the tectonic plates move underground? How do we stay safe during an earthquake? Why are continents so far apart? Why do buildings sometimes catch fire after earthquakes? Why are there tsunamis after earthquakes? For this week's show we headed to California to visit Jennifer Strauss at the Berkeley Seismology Lab and we hear from Celeste Labedz at the California Institute of Technology. Download our listening guides: PDF | Google Slides | Transcript
How do circuits work? How do electric plugs work? Why do some things conduct electricity and some things do not? How does a battery make a phone work? How do lights turn on? Where do electrons go when the electricity is off? How fast is electricity? How do light bulbs work? How does solar power work? How do electric cars work? Why is electricity dangerous? Electrical Engineer Paul Hines answers our questions for the second half of our electricity live call-in program. Hines is a professor at th...more
Where does electricity come from? What is electricity made of? Who invented it? How does electricity work? What are electrons made of? Electrical Engineer Paul Hines answers our questions, in part one of our live call-in program. Hines is a professor at the University of Vermont and co-founder of Packetized Energy. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript | Watch On Facebook Live
How do trains work? What about electric trains? Steam trains? Bullet trains? Why do they have to go on tracks? How can trains go so fast even though they're so heavy? And why don’t trains have seat belts? We’re traveling to Union Station in Washington, DC and answering all of your questions with Amtrak’s Patrick Kidd. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript
This week we're answering questions about gender. We've gotten a lot of questions about the differences between boys and girls so we're tackling them with Vanderbilt anthropologist Anna Catesby Yant and Dr. Lori Racha of UVM Medical Center. This is a frank but age-appropriate conversation about male and female bodies and about how biological sex differs from gender. We think the whole family will enjoy this episode, but you're always free to give our episodes a listen to see if it's right for yo...more
We're heading to the coast of Maine to learn a little bit about why the sea is salty and how mussels get their shells with Zach Whitener, a research associate at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland, Maine. We also get an answer to a question to how you get a ship in a bottle from Colorado-based ship-in-bottle builder Daniel Siemens in this encore episode from 2016. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript | Ship In Bottle Plans
Lots of people are afraid of the dark, including many kids who have shared that fear with us. In today's episode we explore the fear of the dark with Daniel Handler, better known as Lemony Snicket, the author of the Series of Unfortunate Events books, and a picture book for young kids called The Dark. Then we go on a night hike with Vermont Fish and Wildlife biologist Steve Perren, to talk about ways to embrace the darkness. We practice our night vision by not using flashlights and we think ab...more
Why do we need to eat and how does food give us energy? Why do you have to eat vegetables? Why does junk food taste so good? So many questions about food and nutrition. We get answers from Wesley Delbridge, of the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Other questions in this episode include: Why does eating salty food make you thirsty? Why is sugar bad for you? Why are vitamins in food? Why is breakfast so important? Why do children get hungry at night? Why is fast food so popular?
Today, 10 questions with one answer in common: "That's a good question!" We've picked 10 stumpers, like: Why don't we suffocate in cars when we're driving? How do we know where our mouths are? Why are there more boys than girls in books? Do monkeys every touch the ground? Why don't fish get electrocuted when lightning strikes? Where does the sidewalk end? Our experts include naturalists Mary Holland, author Grace Lin, primatologist Sofia Carrara, pediatrician Laurie Racha, Dan Goodman of AAA of...more
Who makes the laws? That's what 5-year-old Paxton from Kelowna, British Columbia wants to know! We learn about laws with Mike Doyle of the Canadian organization Civix, and Syl Sobel, author of How the U.S. Government Works. We also answer a question from Charlotte in North Carolina: how do elections work? And Hattie in England asks why her country has a government and a queen.
Why do we laugh? Why do you feel ticklish when someone tickles you? Why can't you tickle yourself? In this episode, originally from 2018, we learn about how humor develops with Gina Mireault of the Infant Laughter Project at Northern Vermont University. Plus: April Fools traditions and we listen to jokes sent in by kids with Vermont comedian Josie Leavitt.
In this episode of But Why, we're answering your questions about...us! Why do you make But Why? How are podcasts made? And we're answering questions about the physics of sound and radio. What is sound and how is it made? Why are sound waves invisible? How do echoes work? How do microphones work? How do radio signals work? Answers to your sound and radio questions from our VPR colleagues: sound engineer Chris Albertine and Chief Technology Officer Joe Tymecki.
Why is there a big patch of garbage in the Pacific Ocean? Four-year-old Leon has heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and he wants to know what the deal is. So we speak with someone who's actually been there! Teen Vogue News and Politics Editor Alli Maloney visited the garbage patch last year for a series called Plastic Planet. But in this episode we'll also explore how young people are becoming activists, trying to reduce the amount of plastic waste produced, waste that sometimes goes into ...more
We're exploring two different animals in today's episode. One has a long neck and the other has a long trunk! We'll answer: Why are elephants so big? How do their trunks work? Why do they have tusks? Why is elephant skin so rough? Do elephants stomp? Are they actually afraid of mice? And Why are elephants being poached? Peter Wrege of the Elephant Listening Project, which studies elephants in Central African Republic, answers elephant questions. And Steph Fennessy, from the Giraffe Conservation ...more
How was time created? How did one minute become 60 seconds and one hour became 60 minutes? Why is time segmented into 12-hour periods? How do clocks work? Why is a year 365 days? Why is there an extra day in February every four years? Does time have a beginning or an end? Is time travel possible? Answers to all of your time questions with Andrew Novick of NIST, the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Why does the moon change shape? How much does the moon weigh? What color is the moon? Why does the Earth only have one moon? Why does the moon have holes? Where does the moon go when we can't see it? Why do we sometimes see the moon in the daytime? Why does the moon look like it's following you when you're in the car? Answers to your moon questions with John O'Meara, chief scientist at the W.M. Keck Observatory.
What is it like to be an adult? It's a big question from a young mind! We invited adults who listen to share their perspectives and Nora McInerny, host of the podcast Terrible, Thanks for Asking, helps guide us through that and a few other questions about the strange world of adults: Why can adults do things that kids can't do? Why don't adults play pretend like they used to when they were kids? What happens when you don't listen to your boss? And why do people cry when they're happy?
How does your body make poop? How many germs are in an ounce of poop? Why do people fart and why are farts stinky? Look, everybody does it, so today we're going to tackle one of the areas kids seem to find fascinating: why and how we poop! Plus, we get some help from Chicago public radio station WBEZ's Curious City to learn about what happens after you flush the toilet.
This week, instead of a normal episode, we're bringing you an episode from one of our podcast friends, Circle Round, from WBUR in Boston. Circle Round features folk tales from around the world, and we've selected one we think you'll really enjoy. French comedian Gad Elmaleh stars in "Armadillo's Song," a story about achieving goals and proving naysayers wrong!
Why don't spiders stick to their own webs? How do spiders walk up walls and on ceilings without falling? Why do spiders have eight legs and eight eyes? How do they make webs? And silk? What's a cobweb? How do spiders eat? And why are daddy long legs called daddy long legs when they have to have a female to produce babies?! We're talking spiders today with arachnologist Catherine Scott. Download our learning guides: Transcript| Coloring Page
Why do we celebrate Halloween? Who created this holiday? Where do pumpkins come from and why do we carve them? This week we're answering your Halloween questions with a professor of all kinds of scary and creepy things, Regina Hansen of Boston University.
In today's episode we're not answering any questions. Instead, we're going to talk with 11-year-old twins Isabelle and Sophie Posner-Brown. When Sophie was two, she was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. She's had three surgeries and lots of chemotherapy, but she's been on a break from chemo for the last four years. The twins talked with But Why about what it's like to live with Sophie's illness.
A cancer diagnosis can be scary, and for kids it can be bewildering. We've gotten some questions about cancer and in this episode we answer them with Dr. Donald Small, director of pediatric oncology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. We answer how people get sick when it's not caused by germs, how people get cancer, and why cancer "does not have a cure." There's nothing graphic or scary in this episode, but adults may want to give this episode a listen if cancer is something your littles have ...more
We'll learn about the kinds of animals that live in urban environments and the challenges they face! One young Australian listener wants to know why wombats, kangaroos and koalas hang out in the countryside rather than the city. Dr. Mark Eldridge from the Australian Museum Research Institute tackles that one. And we turn our focus to one particular urban dweller, the raccoon, with York University raccoon expert Suzanne MacDonald. She lives in Toronto, which has one of the most dense populations ...more
We visit Fireman's Hall Museum in Philadelphia and get answers to a dozen questions about fire from Philly firefighter Lisa Desamour. She tells us what fire is, why matches work to start fires, and why fire is often orange. Plus: how does water put out fire? How do smoke alarms work? Why do firefighters have Dalmations?
In this episode of But Why, we hear music from Music for Sprouts' Mr. Chris, Drummer Seny Daffe, and cellist Emily Taubl and answer questions about strings, percussion, and the magic of music itself. Get ready to dance.
Why do turtles need shells? Why do turtles move so slowly? Why do frogs hop? Why are frogs green? Why are colorful frogs poisonous? Why do frogs inflate their throats? What some of the biggest threats are to amphibians and reptiles? We head out to the pond to get answers from some herpetologists! We also get a preview of the new Earth Rangers podcast!
But Why explores the Big Bang, earth, stars and black holes in this call-in episode that aired live on Vermont Public Radio. Astronomer John O'Meara tackles the big bang, the origins of the universe and how we know humans landed on the moon. Plus, why is the earth round? What is space made out of? How are stars formed? Why do the stars shine so bright? What's beyond space? How long does it take to get to outer space? Will humans ever be able to go to Mars?
In this episode we want to introduce you to another show made at VPR that we think you're really going to like. It's called Timeline and it explores the history of western music. Host James Stewart has just made 4 special episodes exploring the elements fire, water, earth and air. We're bringing you the water episode!
'But Why' heads to the farm to answer a whole herd of animal questions: How do cows make milk? Why do cows moo? Why do some animals eat grass? Why do pigs have curly tails? Why do pigs have more teats than cows? Why do eggs in the fridge not hatch? How do chicks grow in their eggs? Why do roosters crow? Why do horses have hooves? Why do horses stand up when they sleep? Why are some fences electric?
Why do ants bite? Do both male and female ants have stingers? Do ants sleep? What do they do in the winter? In this episode we learn all about the fascinating world of ants with Brian Fisher , curator of entomology at the California Academy of Sciences. Fisher has identified about 1000 different species of ants!
How fast can the fastest bird go (and what bird is it?) Why do birds have wings? How do they fly? Why are birds so colorful? And why do they sing at dawn and dusk? In the second part of our live show in April with Bird Diva Bridget Butler, we learn all about birds, and get some lessons in how to sing like our avian neighbors!
How do owls eat? Why are owls nocturnal and how do they see in the dark? How do owls swivel their heads all the way around? Why do birds move their heads back and forth when they walk? This episode was recorded live at The Mega Awesome Super Huge Wicked Fun Podcast Playdate in Brookline, Massachusetts.
Why is tape sticky? How do erasers erase? We'll tackle arts and crafts in this episode, answering not just those two questions but learning how to make paint out of rocks and spit!! Vermont artist and wildcrafter Nick Neddo joins us with some tips on how to create your own paint and art supplies.
After hearing our episode about hearts, 3yo Ethan Chandra, from Middlesex, NJ, wanted to share the story of his own heart. In this podcast extra, Ethan and his 5yo sister Zoe and their mother, Ali, talk about what it's been like for Ethan to live with a condition called heterotaxy.
How does your heart keep you alive? How does it pump blood? Why is blood so important? Why do children have heart surgeries? Why is a baby's heartbeat faster before it's born? Why does blood rush to your head when you're upside down? Why can you feel your heart in your head when you're lying still or under water? In this episode of But Why, we're going talking about a very special muscle! It keeps us alive and it has its own special rhythm: the heart. Pediatric oncologist Dr. Jane Crosson from J...more
Why do we laugh? Why do you feel ticklish when someone tickles you? Why can't you tickle yourself? We learn about how humor develops with Gina Mireault of the Infant Laughter Project at Northern Vermont University.
Why do people dream? Why do people have nightmares? How do dreams happen? Can people who are blind can see in their dreams? In this episode of But Why, we're answering dreamy questions with psychiatrist Dr. David Khan of Harvard Medical School. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript
Why do people need to sleep? How do we actually go to sleep? How does sleeping get rid of toxins in the brain? And how come when it's nighttime I don't want to go to sleep but when it's morning I don't want to wake up?! Those questions and more, all about sleep. We're joined by pediatric sleep psychologist Dr. Lisa Meltzer. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript
What are Olympic medals made of? Why does every country have a flag? The 2018 Winter Olympics are underway in PyeongChang, South Korea. We reached out to medal-winning Olympians Elana Meyers Taylor, Andrew Weibrecht and Hannah Kearney to reflect on what winning a medal represents. And we learn about flags with vexillologist Scot Guenter from San Jose State University.
How did the first fish get into the ocean? How do fish breathe under water? If you put a fish's head underwater, but not its tail, would it survive? How do fish get diseases? How do fish see underwater without googles? Why do fish swim when they are asleep? Do fish drink water? Do fish have ears? How are fish born? But Why visits the New England Aquarium in Boston to get answers to those and other questions kids have sent us about fish.
Instead of an episode of But Why, we're going to check out an episode of one of our other favorite podcasts. Circle Round is a storytelling show from WBUR, a public radio station in Boston. On Circle Round, they find stories from all around the world and then get really interesting people to act them out. This week we're sharing one of their episodes with you! This is one of our favorites. And it's actually about sharing. It's called 'The Lion's Whisker.'
In this episode, we answer a question from 5-year-old Wyatt in Los Angeles and learn about ancient underground cities in Turkey, the subterranean passageways of Montreal and the dug-out houses of Coober Pedy, Australia. Also in this episode: Why is it so warm underground?
We're marking the winter solstice with an episode all about snow! Why do snowboards look like skateboards? We get an answer from Burton Snowboards. How is snow made? Why is snow white? Why are all snowflakes different? We'll hear from Jon Nelson, author of "The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter's Wonder." Also why does snow melt? And where is the deepest snow?
In this episode of But Why we visit a credit union to learn what money is all about and Slate Money hosts Felix Salmon, Anna Szymanski and Jordan Weissman answer questions about why money plays such a big role in modern society. How was money invented? Why can't everything be free? How do you earn money? Why don't kids go to work? How was the penny invented? Why are dimes so small?
What's the biggest number? Who was the first mathematician? Why is seven a lucky number? Why is fifth grade math so hard? We're tackling something new: questions about math! With us to offer some answers and some mind-blowing concepts is author Joseph Mazur.
Why do we have daylight saving time? And why are days longer in summer and shorter in winter? Daylight saving time is really just a trick. At least, so says Michael Downing, author of Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time. He's our guest in this episode and he explains the reasons behind this semi-annual ritual of moving the clocks forward and back.
On this special episode of But Why, we're going to introduce you to some of our kids podcast classmates. We've all gotten together to create one big podcast episode that gives you a little flavor of what each one of us is all about. Enjoy!
Why do leaves change color in the fall? Why are leaves green? Why don't leaves turn all of the colors of the rainbow? In this episode of But Why, we're talking about fall leaves, and how trees go from green to fiery red, orange and yellow.
This episode of But Why is a serious one. We're talking about death. Why do people die when they get too old? What happens to people when they die? What does it feel like when you're dead? Our guide is Jana DeCristofaro from the Dougy Center: The National Center for Grieving Children in Portland, Oregon, which supports children and families facing serious illness or coping with the loss of a family member.
In the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history in Las Vegas on Sunday, we're re-releasing our special episode for parents. We speak with Dr. Robin Gurwitch about how to answer questions children may have about violence they hear in the news. She's a child psychologist at the Duke University Medical Center and she has served on numerous commissions and committees about children and trauma, including the National Advisory Committee on Children and Disasters.
Is it OK to do something that you were told not to do and then never tell anybody? We tackle that question from 10-year-old Finn from Seattle. Also in this episode: why do people make really bad choices and want other people's lives to be harder? Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript
In the last couple of weeks, two big hurricanes have hit parts of the United States and Caribbean islands. In this episode we answer questions from kids who have been hearing the news and wondering: How do hurricanes form? Why do hurricanes strike Florida? Why do hurricanes have names? We speak with atmospheric scientist Shuyi Chen of the University of Washington.
How is glass made? Why does glass break? Why do bubbles pop? What's it like inside a bubble? We make everything clear in this episode! Our questions are from kids in Arizona, Brazil, California and Cambodia. Transcript
Why do bees pollinate? How do bees make honey? Why do bees have stingers? Why do bees die when they sting you? What's the difference between a bee and a wasp? Does honey have healing properties? Vermont farmer and beekeeper John Hayden of The Farm Between answers all of your bee questions! And we learn about one curious kid's app, which he hopes will help save pollinators.
In this episode, we're answering some of our frequently asked questions, the questions we hear a lot from all of you: why are there so many different languages? Why do we get hiccups? Why do our fingers get wrinkly in the tub? Why are plants so many colors? Why do leaves change colors in the fall? Why is the sky blue?
We're answering ten questions as quickly as we can in this episode of But Why. Why do onions make you cry? How do hummingbirds hum? Why do flamingos stand on one leg? Do moths have veins in their wings? Do cats that share a home have the same meow? What was the first book? How do libraries get money if people borrow books for free? Why do people have fidget spinners? Why can't my stuffed animal get wet? And how do pigs poop? Can we do it all in 20 minutes?!
How is bread made? Who made the first cake? Why shouldn't you touch raw eggs? On this episode of But Why, we're talking about baking. We get a lesson in bread making on a field trip to King Arthur Flour. Later, the Botanical Society of America weighs in on a recent episode where we talked about why some berries are poisonous.
In this episode we're celebrating the official return of summer to the northern hemisphere by answering some summertime questions! How do fireflies glow and can they control how they blink? Why are owls nocturnal? How do they swivel their heads around? And how do they hoot? Plus a few burning questions about why bug bites itch, why poison ivy and caterpillars and berries can all be poisonous, and how come we have to wear sunscreen! We'll get answers from wildlife biologists Kent McFarland and Br...more
How are babies made? We speak with Cory Silverberg, author of What Makes A Baby, for answers to questions about how we all come into the world.
We recently did an episode all about dogs. But after that came out, Nash, from Fort Dodge, IA, sent us a question wondering if dogs ever get strep throat. So we reached back out to Jessica Hekman to get an answer!
This episode may not be suitable for our youngest listeners or for particularly sensitive kids. We're discussing animal ethics with author Hal Herzog. In a follow up to our pets episodes, we look at how we treat animals very differently depending on whether we think of them as pets, food, or work animals. Why do some cultures eat cows and others don't? Why do some cultures not have pets at all? And is it okay to breed animals like dogs that have significant health problems even though we love th...more
Why do dogs have whiskers? Why are dogs' eyesight black and white? Why do dogs have so many babies? Why do dogs have tails and we don't? Why are dogs thumbs so high on their paw? Why don't dogs sweat? Why do dogs roll in the grass? Why aren't dogs and cats friends? Veterinarian and dog scientist Jessica Hekman has answers. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slides | Transcript | Coloring Page | Dog Breed Quiz | Answer Key
Why do cats purr? How do cats purr? Why can't we purr? Why do cats "talk" to people, but not other cats? Why do cats sharpen their claws? Are orange cats only male? Why do cats like milk and not water? Why are some cats crazy? Can cats see color? All of your cat questions answered with Abigail Tucker, author of 'The Lion in the Living Room.'
Who was the first person? Paleoanthropologist Adam Van Arsdale answers one of the most frequent questions we get here at But Why. Also: how does evolution work? Was there a first of every living thing? How did the first animal come alive? How did monkeys turn into people? And what did cavemen eat that we still eat today?
For 20 years, brothers Chris and Martin Kratt have been taking kids on adventures around the world through their TV shows, including Wild Kratts, Zoboomafoo, and Kratts' Creatures. They spent many childhood summers exploring the wilds of Vermont. In this special episode, we are sharing a Vermont Edition interview Jane did with the Kratts for her other radio show.
How do butterflies fly? Why are butterflies called butterflies? How do airplanes fly? If gravity pulls everything down, how do planes and rockets get up in the air? Why do planes have engines and how do they make them? We're visiting ECHO, the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum for answers.
Did you know pianos have strings and hammers? We're learning all about instruments and how they use strings to make noises.
Why are there so many plants? How are seeds made? How does germination work? How can plants grow so big if they start from such a small seed? Why are flowers different colors? Why are plants and trees green? Where does dirt come from? In this episode of But Why , we're talking about plants with garden consultant Charlie Nardozzi.
The discovery of seven new planets that could contain life has kids and adults pretty excited. We can't get to these planets yet but we do have tools to explore planets closer to home. In this episode, St. Michael's College astronomy professor John O'Meara answers how the Mars rover is driven from back here on earth?
Why are yawns contagious? Why do we hiccup? How do teeth get loose? Why do your ears hurt when you drive up over the mountains? Why do we get dizzy when we spin? Why do people slip? Why do people faint? Why do we have saliva and mucus? Why do people cry when they get hurt? How do voice boxes work? Why does your voice sound weird when it's recorded? Dr. Lori Racha has more answers to your body questions.
Why do your fingers and toes turn wrinkly in the tub? Why are people ticklish? How do you get freckles? Why do some people have birthmarks? How do our hands feel things? Are humans animals? Why don't humans have tails? Why do we need food and water to survive? Why do our nose and ears keep growing? How do bones connect together? We're talking about our weird and wonderful bodies with Dr. Lori Racha, a pediatrician at the University of Vermont.
How do popcorn kernels pop? How do salmon know where to return to spawn? How do rabbits change colors? Why does television fry your brain? How do zippers zip stuff? Who was the fastest runner in the world? In this episode, we'll tackle all these questions!
Why is all of the world split up into countries, states, cities and counties and more? Why can't we all just live as one big group? Which country has the least amount of people? We're talking about countries and borders with author Juan Enriquez. Also in this episode: why don't school buses have seatbelts?
How is chocolate made? Why can't we eat chocolate all the time? Why does chocolate melt? Why can't dogs eat chocolate? In this episode, we travel to Taza Chocolate in Somerville, Massachusetts to get some answers. Plus, we visit a coffee roaster in Maine to learn about this parent fuel that so many kids find gross!
We're getting answers to all of your weather questions! Where does snow come from? Why do clouds stay up in the sky? How hot is lightning? What are thunderstorms? How is wind made? Those questions and more are answered by meteorologist Mark Breen, author of The Kids' Book of Weather Forecasting.
On this special episode, we're going to listen to a story about how turkeys used to get from farms in Vermont to markets and dinner tables far away in Boston, a distance of a couple hundred miles. This was before refrigerated trucks. So how do you think they did it?
Why do we like to eat certain foods? Why do some people like to eat spicy food and some people don't like to eat vegetables? Why does pineapple hurt your mouth when you eat too much of it? Why do we taste things and how? Why do different foods taste different? Do animals have the same taste buds as people? Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slides | Transcript
Are ghosts real? Why do some cultures believe in fairies and gnomes and some don't? We'll learn about how beliefs in ghosts vary in different parts of the world with Justin McDaniel of University of Pennsylvania. Then we're off to Iceland to learn about magical creatures with Terry Gunnell.
How do birds fly? Why do they flock? How do they not get shocked when they sit on telephone wires? The Bird Diva has our answers to all of your questions about our feathered friends. And why do chickens lay different colored eggs? We visit the hen house at Shelburne Farms to find out.
Who invented the president? Which country had the first president? We answer presidential questions historical in nature with author Kenneth C. Davis . Also in the episode: why do leaves change color in the fall?
We're heading to the coast of Maine to learn a little bit about why the sea is salty, how mussels get their shells and how model ships get in those glass bottles. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript | Ship In Bottle Plans
7-year-old Kala wants to know why we say soccer in the United States, when the rest of the world calls the game "football." In this episode we hear from people who make their living in the game, professional players, coaches and commentators.
How long does it take for baby animals to grow up? In this episode, we're learning about cheetahs and horses with two questions from siblings in Australia.
This episode is all about bugs! We've gotten a lot of questions from you about insects and other critters. So we're tackling them with the help of Jessica Honaker and Kristie Reddick, otherwise known as the Bug Chicks. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript
It's all about bikes in this episode of But Why? Why bicycles can stay up when you're riding them, but fall over when stopped. Olympian Lea Davison tells how to get started when riding, and we learn how a bike chain moves a wheel.
Seven-year old Sawyer wants to know: how does an engine work? We learn about chainsaws from Ashleigh Belrose, an instructor the Center for Technology in Essex, Vermont.
Families grow and change. What does that feel like? We asked kids to tell us about their families, and we speak with author Amy Bloom about how love is not something that needs to be divided up, like a pie, but can expand and multiply.
Why is the sky blue? We get an answer from a science writer for NASA's Space Place. And what are Saturn's rings? Carolyn Porco of the Cassini Imaging Team explains.
This is a special episode just for parents. It's about how to address violence and tragedy in the news with your children. This podcast comes the day after and in response to the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida.
In this episode of But Why we're learning how to make paint from an artist who wild-crafts his own pigments, and we're visiting the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum to learn about the value of art.
In this episode of But Why we tackle the question of why people have different religions. Our answer comes from Wendy Thomas Russell, who wrote a book on how to talk about religion for secular families. Plus we visit a farm where kids of both the human and the goat variety are involved in making cheese.
On But Why we let you ask the questions and we help find the answers. One of the things that many of you are curious about is language. How we speak, why we speak and what we speak.
We're turning things around! Instead of you sending us the question, this time we're asking the question and looking to you for some answers. We wanted to explore why music moves us.
This episode looks at a big question, a really big question. It's about the end of the world and what it might feel like. Parents: this episode is about asteroids and supernovas; some kids may find this episode a bit scary, or may have never considered those possibilities before, so you may want to listen first on your own.
In our very first episode, we've got owls and turtles and bears, oh my! It's all about animals. But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids is a show led by you. Kids ask questions and we find someone who can give you an answer. And that way all the rest of us listening get to learn something cool!
My name is Jane Lindholm and I'm hosting a new podcast for kids from Vermont Public Radio. We're calling the show But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids. And it's designed to be something you and your kids can listen to on long rides in the car, at the dinner table, or whenever you’re in the mood for learning something new. Think of it as public radio - made especially for kids.