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Brains On! Science podcast for kids
37 minutes | Sep 21, 2021
The invention of trash
A pair of ghost shoes visit Molly with a message: it's time to think about garbage. They predict that Molly will be visited by three visions of garbage, one from the past, one from the present and one from the future. Today, Producer Sanden Totten takes us on a time traveling journey to see how we started making all this trash in the first place. Plus: the Moment of Um answers the question: Are yawns contagious to animals? Next week, we'll be back with a look at the present and future of garbage. This episode was sponsored by: Mathnasium (Mathnasium.com)
34 minutes | Sep 14, 2021
Take a deep breath: How does breathing work?
Breathing is a really cool thing. We breathe automatically without thinking about it, but we can also control our breath and play with it. We'll learn how our lungs work and why our bodies need this air in the first place. We'll also hear from a singer and a free diver about how they've trained their breath to do remarkable things -- and how you can too! And we'll talk to a doctor about how deep breathing can help you feel less stressed and she'll teach us an exercise you can do whenever anxiety starts to creep up. Plus: Our Moment of Um answers the question: what is the smallest unit of measurement? This episode was sponsored by Mathnasium (mathnasium.com)
44 minutes | Sep 7, 2021
What does the giraffe say? Our animal mystery sound extravaganza!
When one of our listeners wrote in with an animal sound mystery (What sound does a giraffe make?) we set out to find an answer. We came back with lots of other fascinating animal sounds, so we decided it was time for an all-animal mystery sound extravaganza! Open up your ears and get ready to play! Plus, our Moment of Um answers the question: Why do daddy long legs have such long legs? Our sponsors: Indeed (Indeed.com/brainson) KiwiCo (KiwiCo.com/brainson)
40 minutes | Jul 27, 2021
Why do we lose teeth?
Today we’re looking at a phenomenon that happens to all of us: losing our baby teeth and getting new ones! So how do our teeth grow in and what makes them fall out? Naturally, a group of wandering teeth helps us explain. We'll also find out why we have two sets of teeth in the first place. A chatty tooth travel agent will introduce us to all the different ways to send our baby teeth off in style and we'll play a game that will test your knowledge of animal teeth. Plus, the Moment of Um answers the question "Why do bees make a buzzing sound?" You can support Brains On at brainson.org/fans — there you can donate, join our free fan club, check out our merch or buy our book! This episode was sponsored by: Indeed (indeed.com/brainson) Bobby Wonder podcast (gokidgo.com or subscribe to Bobby Wonder on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts)
38 minutes | Jul 20, 2021
What causes wildfires?
A fire can be super useful or cozy or even magical. But it can also be dangerous -- and in the case of wildfires, if they burn long and hot enough, they can destroy ecosystems and send lots of harmful smoke into the air. In this episode, we're going to find out why wildfires are getting bigger and why wildfire season is lasting longer now. We'll learn how the tribes who've lived in what is now called Northern California managed the forests and kept fire in check for thousands of years, and how those practices are being used today. We'll hear from a friendly house about how to stay safe from smoke inside and find out how firefighters work to contain fires once they've started. Plus, our Moment of Um answers the question: Is the name of a letter considered a word?This episode is sponsored by Bobby Wonder, a podcast from GoKidGo. You can support Brains On at brainson.org/fans — there you can donate, join our free fan club, check out our merch or buy our book!
21 minutes | Jul 15, 2021
Million Bazillion answers your questions about money
Today we’re sharing an episode with you from our friends at Million Bazillion, the podcast that answers the questions kids have about money. They help dollars make more sense and they’re back for a whole new season! In today’s episode, hosts Jed and Bridget answer a question from two curious listeners who want to know why we pay taxes. In answering the question, they come across the legendary Robin Hood, known for his hatred of taxes. Back in his day, tax-collecting sheriffs forced people to pay money to a king, who decided how those taxes were spent. These days our tax system works a bit differently. We get to vote for people who’ll spend that money on things we care about — like schools and libraries, health care for elderly people, police, parks, sewers and so on. With the help of a rambling troubadour and a tax policy expert, Jed and Bridget teach Robin Hood that the way tax dollars are spent today reflects what we prioritize as a society. Plus, we’ll ask random kids some not-so-random questions. Million Bazillion is a collaboration between Brains On and Marketplace. It’s hosted by Jed Kim and Bridget Bodnar. You can listen to more episodes here, or subscribe at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.
29 minutes | Jul 13, 2021
Why do mosquitoes bite? Scratching that itch
In this episode, we're tackling all the mosquito questions that have been bugging our listeners. Why do they bite? Why do the bites itch? Is scratching them a good idea? Why do some people seem to be more delicious to mosquitoes? How can we keep them away from us? And are mosquitoes good for the world? The Hoax Hunters make an appearance plus the Moment of Um answers the question, "What is a solar flare?" This episode was sponsored by: Indeed (Indeed.com/brainson)
32 minutes | Jul 6, 2021
Why do songs get stuck in our heads?
You know that feeling where you get a snippet of a song stuck in your head and it loops over and over? Those hard to shake songs are also known as earworms, and in this episode Molly has a particularly sticky one in her brain. We'll find out why some songs are catchier than others and, most importantly, scientifically-proven ways to get rid of them. Plus, we'll hear a mystery sound and a Moment of Um that answers the question: "Do spiders have bones?" Today’s episode is sponsored by KiwiCo (kiwico.com/brainson) and you can listen to Million Bazillion wherever you get your podcasts. You can support Brains On at brainson.org/fans — there you can check out our merch, join our free fan club, donate or buy our book!
35 minutes | Jun 29, 2021
Vaccines for kids and silver linings: Our second COVID summer
Adults around the world are getting vaccinated against the coronavirus, and now, in a handful of countries (including the U.S.) kids over 12 can get vaccinated too. We hear from a 13-year-old who participated in a clinical trial for a vaccine and get tips for how to navigate the world when only some people in your family are able to be vaccinated. Plus, Kara and Gilly share expert advice on how to handle big feelings as the world starts to open back up. And a new Moment of Um answers the question: What are eye boogers? Find out more about how mRNA vaccines and clinical trials work in our previous episodes: A super special shot: All about coronavirus vaccines: https://www.brainson.org/episode/2021/01/26/a-super-special-shot-all-about-coronavirus-vaccinesWhat’s in the COVID vaccine?: https://www.brainson.org/story/2021/02/23/whats-in-the-covid-vaccine-transcriptFind all our coronavirus coverage right here: https://www.brainson.org/page/coronavirusToday’s episode is sponsored by the podcast "Avatar: Braving the Elements”You can support our show at brainson.org/fans
33 minutes | Jun 22, 2021
Do dogs know they're dogs?
We treat dogs like they're part of the family. But do they know they are a different species, or do they think they're just short, four-legged people? In this episode, canine cognition researcher Alexandra Horowitz helps us puzzle out this question. We’ll also find out what happens (or doesn’t) when a dog looks in the mirror. Dogs are always dozing, and we’ll check in to see if they are dreaming too. And, we take a quick trip around the world in the language of barks. All that, plus a brand new Mystery Sound and a Moment of Um that answers the question: “Why does the moon follow us?” Today’s episode is sponsored by Hooked On Phonics (HookedOnPhonics.com/brainson). You can support the show at brainson.org/fans
44 minutes | Jun 15, 2021
Our 200th episode is SUN-sational!
There’s no better way to celebrate our 200th episode than with our own shining star: the sun! In this episode we speak with Dr. Nicola Fox, who leads a team of NASA scientists that sent a probe to collect data and zoom by the sun. We also hear some great listener suggestions on what new planet could be added to our solar system. We even get a chance to check in with The Sun and her weekly broadcast, That’s Hot. Our 200th episode wouldn’t be complete without a visit from some of our favorite pals: Bob, Gungador, Harvey and Elevator! Of course there’s a new Mystery Sound too. And the Moment of Um comes just in time for mosquito season, because it answers the question: Why do we itch? Thank you so much for helping us make 200 episodes! We could never have done it without your questions and encouragement, and we can’t wait to make 200 more! This episode was sponsored by: ID Tech (idtech.com/brainson) Sakara (sakara.com/brainson) GoHenry (gohenry.com promo code: brainson)
31 minutes | Jun 8, 2021
How far can a cloud travel?
We’ve all played the “what does that cloud look like” game. Maybe you saw a bunny… or an airplane… or a unicorn. What if that same cloud could also be seen by someone in a far off continent? That’s what a listener in Minnesota wondered. He wanted to know if the same cloud he saw in a park near his house could also be seen in Africa. We talk to Deanna Hence, one of our favorite weather experts, and she tells us about how clouds travel. We also dust off the Zoom Ray to learn about what is inside of a cloud. And have you ever noticed the similarities between cloud types, like cumulonimbus, and magic spells from Harry Potter? Well, we have, and we made a game out of it! We also have a brand new Mystery Sound for your guessing pleasure and a Moment of Um that answers the question: Why do pugs have such scrunchy faces? This episode was sponsored by: Indeed.com (indeed.com/brainson)
35 minutes | Jun 1, 2021
Totally Slothsome: All about sloths
There’s more to sloths than slowness. They’re great at saving energy, hanging upside down, and swimming! In this episode, Sloth Appreciation Society founder Lucy Cooke stops by to tell us all about these amazing animals. We also get into a sloth mystery: The Case of the Perilous Poop Journey. Luckily, there’s a sloth sleuth on the case. And sloths aren’t the only animals who aren’t in a hurry — a few others show off their slowest skills. There’s also a Mystery Sound for you to guess, and a Moment of Um: Why do ostriches stick their heads in the ground? This episode was sponsored by: Mathnasium (mathnasium.com) KiwiCo (kiwico.com Promo code: BRAINSON)
40 minutes | May 25, 2021
How do computers store so much info in such a tiny space?
If you translate “Hello! How are you?” to binary code, it looks like this: 01001000 01100101 01101100 01101100 01101111 00100001 00100000 01001000 01101111 01110111 00100000 01100001 01110010 01100101 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 00111111 This episode takes a look at how computers can do so much with such tiny parts. But computers weren't always small -- so we take a look at where computers came from. We visit Ada Lovelace, whose love of math and weaving paved the way for modern-day computers. And we hear about the material that let computers shrink from the size of a room to something that fits in our pockets. There’s also a visit from a yak and a ram, but you’re just going to have to listen to find out why. All that plus a new Mystery Sound and Moment of Um that answers the question: what is the flavor of root beer? This episode is sponsored by Mathnasium (Mathnasium.com) and Sun Basket (sunbasket.com promo code: brains on)
42 minutes | May 18, 2021
How does taste work? We react to our very first episode!
Brains On has a very special milestone coming up -- it’s almost our 200th episode! To celebrate, we're re-listening to our very first episode which was all about eating. We'll play the episode and chime in with commentary to give you some behind the scenes glimpses and backstories along the way. We’ll also hear an update from our very first co-host ever -- Ian Roberts, who is now a college student and an adult. Plus a brand new Moment of Um answers the question: Why do we have birthmarks? This episode is sponsored by: Mathnasium (mathnasium.com) GoHenry (gohenry.com promo code brainson)
31 minutes | May 11, 2021
Like bread and cheese? Thank fungus!
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)
36 minutes | May 4, 2021
Is mold alive? A look at fascinating fungus
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)
38 minutes | Mar 30, 2021
Is time travel possible?
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)
40 minutes | Mar 23, 2021
Mystery Sound Extravaganza 2021
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)
37 minutes | Mar 16, 2021
Why are smartphones so hard to put down?
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).
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