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Brains On! Science podcast for kids
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Brains On! Science podcast for kids

Author: American Public Media

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Brains On!® is a science podcast for curious kids and adults from American Public Media. Co-hosted each week by kid scientists and reporters from public radio, we ask questions ranging from the science behind sneezing to how to translate the purr of cats, and go wherever the answers take us. @Brains_On
275 Episodes
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The secret world of dust

The secret world of dust

2020-02-2500:29:15

Dust looks gray and boring to us, but it’s full of secrets! Like did you know that up close, dust is colorful? And there are creatures living in your dust? And some dust comes from outer space? We’ll take you on a tour of the dust universe and show you how dust can help solve crimes. Plus, we learn about the tiny critters living all over your skin! And of course there’s a Mystery Sound and a Moment of Um that answers the question: why do we jump when we’re scared? This episode is sponsored by Care (care.com/brains) and KiwiCo (kiwico.com/brainson)
It’s something so natural that we take it for granted — but when you think about it, it’s a little strange. Why does water come out of our eyes? And why does it happen when we’re happy? Or sad? Or scared? Or exhausted? In this episode we dive into our mysterious emotional tears, find out […]
How did wolves go from wild, untamed animals to the friendly furballs we know as dogs? In this episode we’ll learn about how our canine companions evolved. Plus, we’ll get a howling lesson, meet a pack of Alaskan wolves that moved to the Minnesota Zoo and hear what wolves mean to members of the Anishinabe Nation. And don’t forget: an action packed Mystery Sound and a Moment of Um about chapped lips. This episode is sponsored by Perfect Snacks (perfectbar.com/brainson) and Blinkist (blinkist.com/brains).
Have you ever entered the mirror-verse and heard yourself talking back? Well, that’s what happens in today’s episode. We take a look (pun intended) at how mirrors work and talk to a scientist to find out what color they are. And in a history of sequins, we learn why, for a long time, rain was a disaster for glittery gowns. Not only can you make today’s Mystery Sound, but you can use it to spiff up your crafts. All that, plus a Moment of Um about why words start sounding funny funny funny funny funny when you repeat them. This episode is sponsored by: KiwiCo (kiwico.com/brainson), Laurel Springs Online School (laurelsprings.com/brainson), and the MacMillan Kids book, “Astronauts: Women on the final frontier” (https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626728776).
In the final episode of our series about myths and legends, we’re launching our imaginations into outer space! Monster expert Emily Zarka tells us about her favorite alien and why aliens fascinate so many people. In the Hoax Hunters season finale, Marc and Sanden bring us a UFO spoof. Plus, scientists give us the lowdown on the real quest for extraterrestrial life — we haven’t found any... yet. And, planets and moons compete for the title of ‘most likely to have life’. A new moment of um keeps us outside the atmosphere: why does space look so dark if the sun is so bright? Today’s episode is sponsored by The American Dental Association (ada.org/brains). You can support Brains On at brainson.org/donate and get a bonus Mystery Sound Extravaganza episode in January!
What’s lurking in the depths of the ocean? Or your local loch? We’re diving deep into the world of water-dwelling mythical creatures in part three of our series on myths. We’ll talk with monster expert Emily Zarka and learn about the very real creature that may have inspired the tale of the Kraken. We’ll also hear from a frustrated manatee and dugong, and get caught up on all the latest deep sea trends. Marc and Sanden are back with a Hoax Hunters about the Loch Ness Monster. Plus, a Moment of Um about our physical reaction to fear.Today’s episode is sponsored by Pillsbury Crescent Rolls. You can support Brains On at brainson.org/donate and get a bonus Mystery Sound Extravaganza episode this January!
Was Atlantis a real city? If not, why have so many people gone looking for it? In part two of our series on modern myths and legends, we’re searching for lost cities. We’ll trace the origins of El Dorado, and head to the ruins of an actual lost city in Egypt. We'll find out how mangrove trees could help prevent cities from being lost to climate change, and Sanden and Marc are back with another edition of Hoax Hunters. Plus, a Moment of Um about how tattoos stay put. Today’s episode is sponsored by Quip (getquip.com/brains), KiwiCo (kiwico.com/brains), American Dental Association (ADA.org/brains) and Stitch Fix Kids (stitchfix.com/kids/brains). You can support Brains On at brainson.org/donate and get a bonus Mystery Sound Extravaganza episode this January!
Where do stories of unicorns, mermaids and Bigfoot come from? And do they have any truth to them? In this four-part series, we're tackling listeners' biggest questions about modern myths and legends. Today's episode is about mythical creatures that live on land. We'll hear the story of El Chupacabras, learn about the search for Bigfoot, and hear from some animals once mistaken for unicorns. Marc and Sanden have a new project to share, and Gungador has an urgent announcement. Plus, a Moment of Um about how sloths snooze upside down. If you want to learn more about the history, facts and lore behind dragons and unicorns, check out this fascinating episode of Smash Boom Best: UNICORNS VS DRAGONS! This episode is sponsored by Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, iD Tech (idtech.com/brains), and KiwiCo (kiwico.com/brains). You can support Brains On at brainson.org/donate. All supporters of the show will get a bonus mystery sound extravaganza episode this January!
How do pianos work?

How do pianos work?

2019-12-0300:29:086

Behind every piano’s polished exterior are thousands of parts. From keys to strings, they work together to produce a sound. In this episode, we take a field trip to a piano shop, peek behind the walls at a world-famous piano factory and have an EPIC FIGHTING BATTLE to discover how sound travels. And the Moment of Um answers this question: “Can you really hear the ocean in a seashell?” This episode is sponsored by KiwiCo (kiwico.com/brains), Quip (getquip.com/brainson) and the Good Kids podcast. You can support the show and get access to a bonus Mystery Sound extravaganza episode at brainson.org/donate
You might think flavor is what happens on your tongue – and it is. But it’s also so much more. Flavor is influenced by all the senses. How food looks, smells and feels can make a difference. Even the sounds you hear while eating can impact how you perceive taste. We’ll visit a tastebud beauty salon, talk with a chef researcher and do some experiments provided by our friends at America’s Test Kitchen Kids. Plus: a three-part Mystery Sound and a Moment of Um that answers the question: “What makes spicy food spicy?” Note: If you want to do the experiments along with us, congratulations, you can! You’ll need jellybeans, a blindfold and two pieces of dark chocolate. Listen, eat and yum! This episode is a collaboration with our friends at America’s Test Kitchen Kids! They’re sharing access to their “The Nose Knows” experiment with Brains On listeners! Check out the whole activity right here. This episode is sponsored by Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, Stitch Fix Kids (stitchfix.com/kids/brains), and KiwiCo (kiwico.com/brains).
What was the first lifeform like? What was the first fish or mammal? Is it even possible to know? In this episode, we look to the fossil record to help us trace our roots back to the Last Universal Common Ancestor. Paleontologist Neil Shubin joins us to talk about discovering a remarkably cool fossil that helped us understand how life evolved over billions of years. We also take a field trip to the Hall of Ancestors and examine a few branches on the tree of life. And we learn why figuring out how life began on earth could help us as we find life elsewhere in the universe. This episode is sponsored by Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, KiwiCo (kiwico.com/brains) and Quip (getquip.com/brainson). You can support the show at brainson.org/donate
In this special episode, we've asked two rock star ornithologists to answer a flock of listener questions about birds. Drew Lanham and Corina Newsome talk flying, feathers, eggs, poop and how we humans can help birds. Plus: we test their ears with the Mystery Sound and their obscure bird knowledge with a game called Real Birds or Just Words. And many, many thanks to The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for providing the bird sounds you hear in this episode. This episode is sponsored by Pillsbury Crescent Rolls and iD Tech (idtech.com/brains). You can support the show at brainson.org/donate
There is so much happening in your brain when you read. From recognizing shapes as letters to discovering empathy, our brains really get a workout when we read books. In this episode, Ben Bergen from the Language and Cognition Lab at UC San Diego drops by to shed some light on how our brains process the meaning of words. We also learn how printing books has evolved and how the invention of the printing press brought worldwide change. And Newberry Award-winning author Kelly Barnhill shares a little of what’s going on in HER brain as she’s writing a story. This episode is sponsored by KiwiCo (kiwico.com/brains), Quip (getquip.com/brainson) and Pillsbury Crescent Rolls. You can support the show at brainson.org/donate.
Spooky stuff may make you cover your eyes in fright, but many of us find ourselves peeking through our fingers to get another glimpse. Why are we drawn to things that make us jump? In this episode, we'll find out how fear can actually be fun. We visit a scientist who helps design haunted houses for ultimate scares, chat with an author who writes ghost stories about how he crafts the creepy crawlies, and play a rousing game of Name That Phobia! Plus we help Gungador get rid of his hiccups and answer the Moment of Um question: "Why do raspberries have little hairs?" Spoiler alert! To learn more about the mystery sound, click here. This episode is sponsored by Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner (bona.com/brainson), Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, and MEL Science (text BRAINS to 64-000).
Wool is warm, absorbs water and odors, plus it’s flame resistant. In short, wool is amazing! In this episode we explore how wool is different from hair. We go on a sheep safari at Cuyama Lamb in California, meet expert wool weaver Zefren Anderson and catch up with our favorite wooly hero Alpaca Jack. Plus a wool-worthy mystery sound and an Moment of Um that answer the question: If Earth had rings like Saturn would we be able to see them through our windows? This episode is sponsored by Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner (bona.com/brainson), Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, Quip (getquip.com/brainson) and Stitch Fix Kids (StitchFix.com/KIDS/brains).
In this episode, we find out how a system of cables around the globe (and deep in our oceans) brings websites, songs, videos and podcasts to our phones and computers, almost at the speed of light. The internet can seem vast and intangible but there’s a very physical system of cables, servers and exchange points across the globe (and yes, even under the oceans). We’ll find out how a video shows up nearly instantly on our screens and about insanely thin, clear glass tubes are the key to our digital communication. You can join the Brains On Fan Club at brainson.org/fanclub. This episode is sponsored by America’s Test Kitchen Kids (atkkids.com/brainson and promo code ATKKIDS10), Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner (bona.com/brainson), Hello Products (helloproducts.com and promo code HELLOBRAIN), and KiwiCo (kiwico.com/brains). You can support the show at brainson.org/donate.
How do flu vaccines work?

How do flu vaccines work?

2019-10-0800:36:155

The flu shot changes every year. But why is the flu special, if other illnesses have much longer-lasting vaccines? This episode takes us into the world of viruses and immunity. A friendly lymphocyte fills us in on how flu shots work, and science journalist Anna Rothschild shares how vaccines started around the world. We'll hear from some virus-busting detectives to see how scientists solve the case of how to make next year’s flu shot as effective as possible. Author Maryn McKenna will stop by and drop some flu knowledge, too! Get your ears ready for a good, thumping mystery sound, and a new Moment of Um: how do straws work? This episode is sponsored by America’s Test Kitchen Kids (atkkids.com/brainson and promo code ATKKIDS10), Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner (bona.com/brainson) and Quip (getquip.com/brainson). You can support the show at brainson.org/donate
Why do we lie?

Why do we lie?

2019-10-0100:35:5512

Most of us think we’re good at detecting lies, but it turns out humans only get it right about half the time. And why do we do it anyway? What makes us want to deceive other people? In this episode we get to the truth about lying. We take a look at when people start lying, and how that helps us in our development as humans. We also hear from A. Lie, who tries to remind us that we might need lies more than we think. Plus, Angela Evans stops by and fills us in on the latest lie detection research. And remember to listen for the Moment of Um at the end of the show. This time we get squishy and find out if sponges are still harvested from the sea. This episode is sponsored by KiwiCo (kiwico.com/brainson), Hello Products (helloproducts.com and promo code HELLOBRAIN) and America’s Test Kitchen Kids Young Chef’s Club (atkkids.com/brainson and promo code atkkids10).
Never explore the final frontier without your trusty, white, puffy space suit! But why is it puffy and white? And why do astronauts need them? Turns out space is super dangerous and these suits can save your life. We’ll give you a tour of all the features of NASA’s iconic EMU suit and explain why it looks like a squishy marshmallow. Plus, we’ll interview an engineer working on the next generation of space suits and hear a funky new space jam by singer Jamie Lidell. Add in a mystery sound, a Moment of Um looking at knuckle cracking and some rad ideas for super suits of the future and you’ve got an action packed episode of Brains On. This episode is sponsored by KiwiCo (KiwiCo.com/brainson), Panama City Beach (VisitPanamaCityBeach.com), The Great Courses Plus (TheGreatCoursesPlus.com/brainson) and Quip (GetQuip.com/brainson). You can support the show at brainson.org/donate
Have you heard the word dyslexia before? It's a term used to describe when people have a hard time learning to read. It's actually very common because reading is a fairly new skill that humans have developed. In this episode we do a deep dive on dyslexia. We'll look at how our brains have cobbled together the ability to read by re-purposing parts of the brain that evolved for other functions. And we’ll learn what scientists think might be going on in the brains of people with dyslexia when they learn to read. We also talk to Ann Bancroft, a Polar explorer and educator who also has dyslexia, about why getting lost can be fun. Plus we’ll hear a new Mystery Sound and find out if mice actually do love cheese in our Moment of Um. This episode is sponsored by Sun Basket (sunbasket.com/brains), Old El Paso, and Panama City Beach (VisitPanamaCityBeach.com). You can support the show at brainson.org/donate
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Comments (122)

katie konold

yall. are da best

Feb 9th
Reply

Z TANG

same im anaphylacitic to peanuts and tree nuts as well

Feb 9th
Reply

Alynna N.

As an adult I really enjoy this podcast. The episodes are short and it's fun to see what the kids are curious about.

Feb 7th
Reply

Natalya Roberts

Guys, stop.

Jan 29th
Reply

Capen Kiesman

here

Jan 28th
Reply (2)

Capen Kiesman

capen

Jan 28th
Reply (1)

PIPING HOT 987

Thanks for the meditation thing it really helps me when I'm Angy.👍

Jan 28th
Reply

PIPING HOT 987

I've sent lots of questions but my name's never been on the list.

Jan 28th
Reply

PIPING HOT 987

The Best Podcast Ever!

Jan 28th
Reply

Nicole

i likt

Jan 22nd
Reply

Nicole

it wos reli seli

Jan 22nd
Reply

PIPING HOT 987

The best show ever!

Jan 4th
Reply

Rosie May

EVIL EVIL!

Dec 29th
Reply (2)

Rosie May

I love you guys so much!

Dec 28th
Reply (1)

Rosie May

educating church gf du du fh it diffusively thriving Hugh custodianship 🔮🧙🧙‍♀️🧙‍♂️

Dec 27th
Reply

Rosie May

P. S that was alien language (I don't know what it means!)

Dec 23rd
Reply

Rosie May

Fiduciary FYI fgfywughduehehhehdgrgyryryrryryydhdhdhdhhdrhydyffftyhthtyryuru

Dec 23rd
Reply

Jamie DeMott

my 5 yr old really enjoyed this episode!

Nov 13th
Reply (1)

Katie Berghoff

You guys hit a home run with this episode. My kids ask for it almost every day and have most of it memorized. They think the white blood cell konmari- ing the virus is so funny!

Nov 5th
Reply (1)

Grace Sharry-English

Love it!🙌

Nov 5th
Reply (1)
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