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But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids

Kids & Family Podcasts

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 questions@butwhykids.org!

Location:

United States

Description:

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 questions@butwhykids.org!

Language:

English


Episodes

Can snowstorms have thunder?

2/23/2024
How is snow made and what’s it made out of? Why is it white and sparkly? Why do snowflakes look different? Can snowstorms have thunder? Why do some places, like mountains, get more snow than others? Answers to all of your questions about snow, with Seth Linden, who works for the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. Plus we hear what it’s like to live at the top of Mount Washington, famous for its extreme weather, from Alexandra Branton, a meteorologist who works at the observatory at the top of the mountain, even during the frigid winter. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slides | Transcript

Duration:00:32:49

Why do we need glasses?

2/9/2024
How do glasses work? Why do some people need glasses and other people don’t? Why do we have different eye colors? We answer your questions about glasses and eyes in the second of two episodes with Dr. Sujata Singh, a pediatric ophthalmologist at the University of Vermont Medical Center. And we hear from Maggie, a kid with low vision, about what it’s like to need glasses. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript

Duration:00:26:22

Why do we have two eyes if we only see one image?

1/26/2024
What shape are our eyes? What are they made of? How do they work? What’s the point of having two eyes if we only see one image? Why do we blink? What’s the point of tears and why are they salty? We answer your questions about eyes in the first of two episodes with Dr. Sujata Singh, a pediatric ophthalmologist at the University of Vermont Medical Center. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript

Duration:00:29:51

What if the world started spinning backward?

1/12/2024
We’ve collaborated with our podcast friends at What If World to bring you the first (and only) episode of…But Why If World! In this episode we jointly answer some “what if” questions. What if cereal could talk to us? What if dinosaurs didn’t lay eggs? What if the world started spinning backwards? Take a listen to this curious collaboration. Download transcript

Duration:00:24:24

What makes you happy?

12/29/2023
For our last episode of each year, we often like to ask our listeners around the world to send us something fun. This year, we wanted you to tell us what makes you happy and you had a lot to share on that topic! Our listeners find happiness in spending time with friends, family, and pets and in doing activities they love: playing with friends, toys, arts and crafts, participating in sports, watching movies, and riding bikes. Two people say the special sandwiches their adults make them are what bring them happiness. And some kids told us learning new skills is especially exciting for them. In this episode: a happiness bonanza with all the responses we got. Plus we talk with a happiness expert: Gretchen Rubin. She’s the author of the Happiness Project and host of a podcast called Happier with Gretchen Rubin. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide

Duration:00:53:36

What's it like to be bilingual?

12/15/2023
Almost half the people in the world speak at least two languages. And, it turns out, that includes a lot of But Why listeners! In this episode we talk about what it’s like to speak multiple languages and kids from around the world share phrases in many different languages so we can all learn something new! Plus, linguist and professor Anna Babel answers questions we’ve gotten about languages, including: What does it mean to be bilingual? Why do some people speak two or three languages? How many languages can someone learn? Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript

Duration:00:34:57

How are electric guitars made?

12/1/2023
How are electric guitars made? How are guitar strings made? And how, exactly, do guitars work? We’re answering questions about electric guitars with local luthier (guitarmaker) Lea in Burlington, Vermont. Creston gave us a tour of his studio–including his custom glitter room, to help us understand what goes into making an electric guitar. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide

Duration:00:24:31

Why are pandas black and white?

11/17/2023
For the past 50 years, visitors to the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C. were able to see giant pandas. But recently, China asked for those pandas back. (Technically, all pandas in the United States are considered “on loan” from China.) With pandas in the news, we’re bringing back the episode from our 2022 field trip to the zoo. Zookeeper Mariel Lally answered all of your panda questions. Among the questions we tackled: Why do animals live in the zoo? Why are pandas black and white? Do pandas hibernate? How can we save the pandas? Check out our social media pages for lots of pictures! Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript

Duration:00:25:55

Why do we celebrate birthdays?

11/3/2023
Why do we celebrate birthdays? Why do we have birthday cakes? Why do we blow out candles on our birthdays? Why are our birthdays on the same date but a different day of the week each year? This episode has answers to all of your birthday questions - plus we hear about unique birthday traditions sent in by our listeners! Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript

Duration:00:17:44

Why do we like being scared?

10/20/2023
Why do some people like haunted houses and scary movies? What is fear? Why do humans have fear! Why do we get goosebumps, blink a lot and scream when we’re scared? Why are some of us afraid of what’s in our closet or under the bed at night? We look at fear, and the fun side of fear with Marc Andersen, who co-directs the Recreational Fear Lab at Aarhus University in Denmark. He studied fear and play and how they intersect. Turns out, moderate and controlled fear can actually have benefits to our mental health! Download our learning guide: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript

Duration:00:25:40

How is meat made in a lab?

10/6/2023
How is meat made in a lab? That’s what 10-year-old Nate in New Jersey wants to know! Scientists have figured out how to grow meat in laboratories. Some hope lab-grown meat will be able to help address issues like global food insecurity, agricultural pollution and animal cruelty. But 5-year-old Lorenzo in California wants to know why people have to eat meat anyway? But Why visits scientist Rachael Floreani of the Engineered Biomaterials Research Laboratory at the University of Vermont to learn more about how and why lab-grown meat is being developed. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript

Duration:00:20:46

Why do people get older?

9/22/2023
Younger people have lots of questions about older people, like: Why do we age? Why do people get gray or white hair? Why do older people have wrinkles? Why do older people have veins that stick up? Why are older people more tired? Why do some people get shorter as they get older? Dr. Suvi Neukam, a geriatrician at Oregon Health and Sciences University, answers kids’ questions about aging in this episode. Download our learning guide: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript

Duration:00:26:39

How do birds fly?

9/8/2023
Why do birds fly? How do raptors soar? Why do some birds fly in the shape of a V? Why can’t some birds, like penguins, emus and ostriches fly? Why do hummingbirds fly so fast? We answer all of your questions about birds and flight with help from Anna Morris of the Vermont Institute of Natural Science and Bridget Butler, the Bird Diva. And we get a preview of our new education series But Why: Adventures! Northeast Nature. Educators: learn more about But Why: Adventures! Northeast Nature and sign up for free access to the series! Download our learning guides: Video | PDF | Transcript

Duration:00:24:40

What are sun bears?

8/25/2023
We’re thinking about bears! Actually one specific type of bear: sun bears! Have you heard about this type of bear? They’re the smallest of the world’s bears, about half the size of a black bear. They live throughout southeast Asia and have a yellow or white crescent-shaped marking on their chests. We learn about sun bears with Wong Siew Te, a scientist and researcher who runs the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre in Malaysia. Also in this episode: Do bears live in caves? Why do they climb trees? Why do bears hibernate in winter? Naturalist Mary Holland answers questions about hibernation. And we are treated to A Bear Song by Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke! Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript

Duration:00:21:56

Why don't bicycles fall over?

8/11/2023
It's all about bikes in this episode of But Why? How come bicycles stay up when you're riding, but fall over once you stop? We turn to Andy Ruina, professor of engineering at Cornell University, for the scientific answer. We also learn how a bike chain works and Olympic mountain biker Lea Davison tells how to get started when riding. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript

Duration:00:21:23

How do we learn to read?

7/28/2023
11-year-old Alaska (from Colorado) wants to know: why do some kids love reading while others don’t? We know there’s a lot of debate lately about the best ways to teach kids how to read. But in this episode we leave the pedagogy to adults and let kids share with one another why they love to read and their best tips for kids like them, who may be struggling to learn (and love) to read. Plus, guest Fumiko Hoeft, medical doctor and professor at the University of Connecticut and at the University of California San Francisco, lifts the lid on our brains to explain what’s happening inside us when we learn to read. Dr. Hoeft runs a brain imaging research program and a lab called BrainLENS. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript

Duration:00:35:27

How are crickets so loud?

7/14/2023
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) in England who works with BugLife, the Invertebrate Conservation Trust. In this episode, Professor Vahed takes on some of pressing general insect questions as well: 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

Duration:00:26:43

Why do we have allergies?

6/30/2023
Why is it that some people have allergies when others don’t, even if they’re in the same family? How do allergies work? Can you be allergic to water? Why are some people allergic to cats and dogs? Can you grow out of your allergies? We’re joined by pediatrician and allergy researcher Dr. Ruchi Gupta to answer the dozens of questions kids have sent us on this topic. Plus we learn about promising treatments being developed to help relieve allergy suffering. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript.

Duration:00:30:28

What are eels?

6/16/2023
What are eels? And why are some eels electric? We head to Poughkeepsie, New York to learn about eels with Chris Bowser, Hudson River estuary educator with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. Plus we learn about electric eels. Electric eels have captured the imagination of many people, but they’re not actually considered eels by the scientific community. They’re a type of knife fish, more closely related to catfish and carp. But they are electric! So we’ll tackle why they’re electric and how they create electricity. David de Santana, of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, tells us what it’s like to study electric eels in the Amazon. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slides

Duration:00:23:02

Why is social media so addictive?

6/2/2023
Why do people spend so much time on social media? But Why answers kids' questions about social media and screen time and we learn about how to be a good citizen online with Devorah Heitner, author of Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World and Growing Up In Public: Coming of Age in a Digital World, coming in September. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript

Duration:00:19:51