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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. Each week, a different kid co-host joins Molly Bloom to find answers to fascinating questions about the world sent in by listeners. Like, do dogs know they’re dogs? Or, why do feet stink? Plus, we have mystery sounds for you to guess, songs for you to dance to, and lots of facts -- all checked by experts.
214 Episodes
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That fuzzy sandwich in your fridge? Yeah, don't eat that kind of fungus. But the mushrooms in your stir fry? Or the yeast in your bread? Or the rind on your brie? Or the miso in your soup? All of those delicious foods are possible thanks to fungus! In this episode, we'll learn about how our ancestors first figured it out some mushrooms were safe to eat, we'll learn about the microbes that make cheese possible, and we'll meet some fungal chefs who are key to cooking up some of our favorite foods. Plus a brand new mystery sound and a Moment of Um that answers the question: "How does rubbing two sticks together make fire?" This episode was sponsored by: Mathnasium (mathnasium.com) Sakara (sakara.com/brainson) Indeed (indeed.com/brainson)
Fungus deserves a party because it’s everywhere and super important to life on this planet. The kingdom of fungus includes mushrooms and molds, but also yeasts, like the kinds that help make bread. So today, we’re embracing the ick, we’re snuggling up to the slimy, we’re making friends with mold and mushrooms… It’s a full on Fung-o-Rama! We'll learn about a day in the life of mold, a fungus that turns ants into zombies, and how fungi will help us in the fight against climate change. All that, plus a brand new mystery sound and a Moment of Um that answers the question: "How does air fry?" This episode is sponsored by: Purple(purple.com/brainson10 promo code brainson10) KiwiCo (kiwico.com promo code brainson) ID Tech (idtech.com/brainson code brainson)
Is time travel possible?

Is time travel possible?

2021-03-3037:527

Will we ever get to rewind time, or fast forward through it? Sanden stops by to tell us all about how time works. He also has a couple ideas about how we might make time travel a reality! But one tricky thing about time travel is that it’s full of paradoxes — so we look into those, too. And science fiction expert Lisa Yaszek swings by to tell us just how long humans have been thinking about time travel (hint: a really long time). Listen closely for the mystery sound, and the moment of um: how do clothes get dirty even though you can’t see it? Today’s episode is sponsored by: Mathnasium: (mathnasium.com) and Sun Basket (sunbasket.com/brainson - promo code: brains on)
What's that you hear? That's right, It's an episode of nothing but mystery sounds! Are your ears up to the challenge? Plus, we'll hear an answer to the question: "How do squirrels find their nuts after they bury them?" If you'd like to submit a mystery sound, you can share it with us here: brainson.org/contact. And, you can support the show at brainson.org/fans. Or, you can also buy our book, complete with Mystery Photos, at brainson.org/shop or at your favorite local bookstore. Today’s episode was sponsored by: Sitka Salmon Shares (sitkashares.com/brainson) Purple (purple.com/brainson10)
Screens are everywhere these days! We’re taking a look at why smartphones are so addictive, and how our devices affect us. Our co-hosts took on a bold challenge for this episode: they went a week without phones or tablets. We’ll hear how their experiment went, then Sanden will fill us in on the brain chemical that trains us to love our screens. We'll also learn why the predictability of messages and alerts on smartphones makes them extra hard to put down. Plus, we’ll get a few tips from Catherine Price, the author of How to Break Up With Your Phone. And! A our Moment of Um answers: why are bruises blue, and how do we get them? This episode is sponsored by Wondery’s Little Stories Everywhere (https://wondery.com/shows/little-stories-everywhere/) and the FDA (fda.gov/FeedYourMind).
Did dinosaurs roar? Or meow? And how do we know? Paleontologist Julia Clarke stops by to talk about sounds T-Rex might’ve made. We know a bit more about other dino sounds, and dinosaur expert Riley Black fills us in on those. Plus, a game about dinosaur names, and a look at how dinos might’ve moved with paleontologist Jingmai O’Connor. Stick around for the mystery sound, and a Moment of Um that answers this head-scratcher: How does hair dye work? This episode was sponsored by: Sun Basket (sunbasket.com/brainson promo code: brainson) Mathnasium (mathnasium.com) FDA (fda.gov/feedyourmind)
20 years ago, we pictured dinosaurs as green, scaly animals. But times have changed! Now, we know some dinosaurs had feathers. And who knows — maybe some even had stripes. This episode looks at how we figure out what color dinosaurs might’ve been. We talk to Jingmai O’Connor, who studies fossil reptiles, about finding color pigment in fossils. And paleoartist Emily Willoughby talks to a “museum” about how her dino-depictions have changed over the years.  Our co-host, Elyana, also brought us this important question: If dinosaurs evolved from birds and birds don’t fart, did dinosaurs fart? Wha-wha-what!?! Look no further than this episode for an extensive investigation. Remember to keep your ears open for the brand new Mystery Sound. And break out your kilns, because today’s Moment of Um answers this question: How do you make clay for pottery? There’s so much dino-tastic information that we decided to make a second dinosaur episode. So if you haven’t had enough (and who has?), make sure to check out next week’s show about what dinosaurs might have sounded like. This episode is sponsored by: Mathnasium (Mathnasium.com) KiwiCo (kiwico.com checkout code: BRAINSON)
In this episode, we're using our zoom ray to zoom way in and answer your questions about the COVID vaccine. What's in the COVID vaccine? How does it work? And how do they make it? We'll also look at how our fight against the new coronavirus has had a huge impact on another virus: influenza. And, we'll head to a stadium to learn what 95% effective means for a vaccine. (Warning: There are seagulls overhead!) Plus, we'll have a brand new mystery sound and a Moment of Um that answers the question: what do scientists eat in Antarctica? Read Katherine Wu’s article about what’s happening with the flu this year: https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2021/02/covid-19-flu-season/617924/ Find the rest of our episodes about coronavirus here, including episodes on the vaccine, masks, social distancing, and how we’re processing this historic time: https://www.brainson.org/page/coronavirus This episode is sponsored by: Sitka Salmon Shares (sitkasalmonshares.com/brainson) and Purple.com (Purple.com: purple.com/brainson10 promo code: brainson10)
In this encore episode, we answer the questions: How does the moon control the tides? Where do waves come from? And what’s it like to live in a tide pool?Sir Isaac Newton drops by and drops some knowledge. He helps explain why the tides ebb and flow. Then, an oceanographer/surfer tells us where waves come from and how they get their shape – cowabunga! Plus we hear about what it’s like for marine life that move to a new neighborhood once or twice a day. Sometimes it’s underwater, sometimes it’s not. Plus a brand new Moment of Um answers the question: Why don’t our ears have bones? And there’s a new group of listeners to be added to the Brains Honor Roll. This episode was originally published on Aug. 30, 2016.This episode is sponsored by Sun Basket (sunbasket.com/brainson and promo code BRAINSON)
Why do we have crushes?

Why do we have crushes?

2021-02-0935:513

When you've got a crush on someone, it can feel a bit overwhelming. All of a sudden, you might have butterflies in your stomach! And maybe you find yourself acting differently than you normally would. Why does our brain do this to us anyway? In this episode, we'll answer a slew of your crush-related questions: Why do we get crushes? Why do they make you feel so many feelings? How do you decide who you have a crush on? Plus, how do you navigate all the tricky parts of crushes -- like your crush finding out you like them? We tackle all these questions. Stick around for a Moment of Um that answers: "What would happened if it rained oobleck?"
Let's go bananas!

Let's go bananas!

2021-02-0238:366

HARVEY, our omnipresent virtual voice assistant, gets a software update that makes him go bananas for bananas. And if we talk about anything except bananas, he turns the microphones off! We talk to geneticist Dr. Janina Jeff about how much DNA we share with a banana, find out why bananas make other fruits ripen, how bananas grow, and where that slipping on a banana peel joke came from. Speaking of jokes, we'll hear a bunch of banana jokes from listeners too! Plus: The Moment of Um answers the question: "Why are peaches fuzzy?" You can hear more from Dr. Jeff on her podcast In Those Genes. Silent film expert Lea Stans has a wonderful blog post about the history of the banana peel joke that you can read right here. You can see some of those early comics that featured the joke!  https://www.youtube.com/watch/RMDgmHB4znc Today’s episode is sponsored by: KiwiCo (kiwico.com/brainson code: BRAINSON) Purple (purple.com/BRAINSON10 promo code BRAINSON10)
In December, people started getting vaccinated against COVID-19. This is a huge scientific accomplishment and important step in making it safe for us to hang out in person again. So how did scientists develop these vaccines so fast? And how did they test the vaccines to make sure they’re safe? And how do these mRNA vaccines work? We have answers to all your questions, plus New York Times science journalist Apoorva Mandavilli explains what scientists have found out about how long immunity lasts to this new coronavirus. And Kara and Gilly are back with a cow-side chat about herd immunity. Plus: A new mystery sound and a Moment of Um that answers the question, "What would happen if the moon fell down onto earth?" Today’s episode is sponsored by Sitka Salmon Shares (http://sitkasalmonshares.com/brainson)
Today we have a special episode featuring an old friend of ours -- scientist and inventor Gitanjali Rao. Time Magazine recently named her the first-ever Kid of the Year! We first met Gitanjali back in 2018, when she was the co-host for a series of episodes we did all about water. Back then, she was a 12 year old who had recently won 2017 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. Now, she's a very busy 15 year-old who is an inventor, STEM advocate and author. Molly and Gitanjali chat about how kids can turn their ideas into reality, and why kids shouldn't be afraid to share their viewpoints and skills with the world -- we need them! Gitanjali has also written a book, which you can check out here. Also, you can hear Gitanjali judge a very science-y Smash Boom Debate: Helium vs Neon! Check out the water series that Gitanjali co-hosted: What’s in your water? The wonderful weirdness of water Keeping water healthy, one clue at a time Burning rivers of fire
Synthesizers are a very recent invention, especially when you compare them to acoustic instruments, like pianos and guitars. In this episode, we learn how these machines with keys, knobs, switches, buttons and sliders actually make sound. We’ll also travel back to the 1960’s and hear how synth pioneers like Bob Moog helped bring these sound making devices into the mainstream. Plus, we’ll check in with Suzanne Ciani, who has been using her synthesizer to create iconic sounds for movies, television and video games for over 50 years! All that plus a striking Mystery Sound and Moment of Um that answers the question: Do airplanes have a speed limit? Want to take a deeper dive into the world of synthesizers? Check out Francis Preve’s digital book, AudioKit Synth One: The Ultimate Guid‪e‬. It’s free! Today’s episode is sponsored by Sun Basket (sunbasket.com/brainson promo code: brainson)
If habits are really stuck, we don't think much about them -- we just do them! Some habits are good (like brushing your teeth in the morning) and others are not as good (like biting your nails). Today we find out what parts of our brains help us form habits and why it's actually super useful to not have to think so hard about everything. Gungador tries to break a bad habit, and we find out the best tips for ditching habits we want to leave behind. Plus: A brand new mystery sound and a Moment of Um that answers the question: "How do 3D glasses work?If you want to join the Brains On fan club and get a mailing of awesome temporary tattoos, have an adult sign up or update your mailing address at brainson.org/fanclubToday’s episode is sponsored by KiwiCo (kiwico.com and promo code BRAINSON) and Purple (purple.com/brainson10 and promo code BRAINSON10).
We’ll be back with new episodes in January. But we wanted to share another show with you that we’ve been working on: Smash Boom Best! It’s a debate show where we take two cool things, smash them together and let you decide which one is best. Today we’re sharing with you an excerpt from a debate featuring our very own Sanden Totten: Flowers vs RainbowsSanden is repping team flowers and our good friend Joy Dolo, host of Forever Ago, is arguing for team rainbows.To hear the rest of the debate, find Smash Boom Best wherever you listen to podcasts. There are over 30 debates ready for your binge listening this holiday season! Play along at home by yourself -- or with your family! You can find score sheets and other fun stuff at smashboom.org
Bones from the inside out

Bones from the inside out

2020-10-2736:2810

Bones! They’re spooky. They’re creepy. They’re utterly fascinating!This episode we dig up the science behind skeletons. We’ll look at how our bones grow, what happens when we break a bone and why bones last so long. Plus, we’ll meet a talking skeleton who will help us bone up on bone trivia!And we have a mystery sound to tickle your auditory ossicles and a Moment of Um that answers the question: Why does time fly when you're having fun?We’re taking a break after this episode and will be back with new episodes on Jan. 5th. Until then, we’d love for you to go check out our sister show Smash Boom Best (smashboom.org). We’re also going to be doing a live virtual hangout in November where you can ask Molly, Marc, Sanden and Menaka all your questions. Anything you want to ask, we’ll answer! If you want to join us, the first step is to sign up for our totally free fan club (brainson.org/fans). In November we’ll send an email out to the fan club with more details about this free, virtual hang out. So keep an eye out for that!This episode is sponsored by KiwiCo (kiwico.com/brainson), Ancestry (ancestry.com/brainson), Purple (purple.com/brainson10), Guardian Bikes (guardianbikes.com/brains), and Pillsbury Grands Cinnamon Rolls (pillsbury.com/products/cinnamon-rolls). You can support the show and help us keep making new episodes at brainson.org/donate
Having a sibling is a special thing -- but, wow, can they be annoying! In this episode we’ll look at why our brothers and sisters are so good at pushing our buttons. Plus, is there any truth to the idea that oldest kids are the most mature and the youngest ones are the most charming? We’ll look at the science of personality and birth order. We also visit a sibling drive-thru, get quizzed about animal relationships and answer this question in our Moment of Um: why does rain come in small droplets? This episode is sponsored by: KiwiCo (https://kiwico.com/brainson) Ancestry (https://ancestry.com/brainson) White Hat Jr. (https://www.whitehatjr.com/) General Mills Pillsbury (https://www.pillsbury.com/products/cinnamon-rolls) If you want to find out more about how to stop bullying, please go to Stop Bullying Speak Up: http://includesomeone.com/
How do flu vaccines work?

How do flu vaccines work?

2020-10-1336:5811

The flu shot changes every year. But why is the flu special, if other illnesses have much longer-lasting vaccines? This episode takes us into the world of viruses and immunity.We released this episode about flu vaccines last year but we wanted to share it with you again since it’s flu vaccine season but also because vaccines are in the news a lot lately. Scientists are testing a bunch of vaccines for the new coronavirus right now. This episode gets into the details of how vaccines work and how they’re made.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 KiwiCo (KiwiCo.com/brainson), Pillsbury Grands Cinnamon Rolls, Guardian Bikes (GuardianBikes.com/brains) and Varsity Tutors (VarsityTutors.com/brainson). You can support the show at brainson.org/donate
If time feels weird to you lately, you’re not alone. The pandemic has changed the pace of life for people around the world. We’ll talk to a psychologist about how our sense of time works. We’ll look back into the past to see how a similar pandemic played out 100 years ago. Plus, we’ll ask experts to tell us what they think life will be like six months from now. Oh yeah, and virus podcasters Kara and Gilly are back to tell you how you can be a part of history! Warning: Boogers are involved. Our Moment of Um answers the question: why do your arms move when you walk? This episode is sponsored by: Stop Bullying Speak Up (http://includesomeone.com) KiwiCo (https://kiwico.com/brainson) Laurel Springs Online School (https://laurelsprings.com/brainson) AncestryHealth (https://ancestryhealth.com/brainson) Daily Harvest (https://dailyharvest.com) General Mills Pillsbury (https://www.pillsbury.com/products/cinnamon-rolls)
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Comments (216)

Mary Beck

I love it

Apr 6th
Reply

Oliver Adams

I mean podcast

Mar 23rd
Reply

Oliver Adams

I love your poda

Mar 23rd
Reply

Oliver Adams

This was out 2 hours ago

Mar 23rd
Reply

Elah Berry

love it!!!!!!

Mar 19th
Reply

Laura O'Connor

Hey I have a question. Why do my nails grow longer and faster in summer.

Feb 10th
Reply (1)

Oliver Adams

This was realise 2 hours I love your show

Feb 2nd
Reply

Oliver Adams

In my first comment I meant Molly the host not Molly the co-host

Feb 1st
Reply

Oliver Adams

I love your show

Feb 1st
Reply

Oliver Adams

Can we take a second to think about how many podcasts Molly hosts

Feb 1st
Reply

Jolene Jaquet

That's a lot of episodes

Jan 16th
Reply (2)

Noah Wilson

lasers for life!!

Jan 15th
Reply

Oliver Adams

I love your show molly

Jan 6th
Reply

Oliver Adams

I like your show I listen every night it is now 2021!!!! I cant believe it

Jan 4th
Reply

Oliver Adams

hasn't anyone heard of the octopus coconut thing

Dec 30th
Reply

Oliver Adams

This is the same as Molly's podcast smash boom best

Dec 30th
Reply

Oliver Adams

can we all appreciate how many podcasts Molly run or use to run it use to be like 4 or 5?!

Dec 28th
Reply

Sarah Bear Plaskay

Hello. My daughter Alice has a science question for you. She asks 'why do my legs end up wet when i rest a hot cup or bowl on them?'

Dec 22nd
Reply

Karter Maslowsky

hashtag gang#️⃣#️⃣#️⃣#️⃣#️⃣

Dec 22nd
Reply

Karter Maslowsky

listen to smash boom best it is the best podcast ever🥳🥳🥳

Dec 22nd
Reply
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