Cover image of Brains On! Science podcast for kids

Brains On! Science podcast for kids

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.

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What makes gross things gross?

Fair warning: Today we’re gonna get gross! We’re talking sounds, smells, and tastes that some people might find repulsive. But we're asking: why? What's the purpose of disgust? Is it something we're born knowing or do we learn to dislike things? When will entomophagy (the eating of insects) catch on everywhere? Plus: The Moment of Um answers the question "Why do worms come out when it rains?"Today’s episode is sponsored by KiwiCo (kiwico.com/brainson), Ancestry (ancestry.com/brainson) and How to Raise Successful People (RaiseSuccessfulPeople.com). You can support Brains On at brainson.org/fans. And find out more about our book at bit.ly/brainsonbook.


25 Aug 2020

Rank #1

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Happy: All about feelings, pt. 1

Where do feelings come from? And why do we have them? In this four-part series, we're digging deep into our emotions. In this first episode, we're getting happy! We'll get a play-by-play of the chemicals in our brain that trigger joyful feelings, and use the zoom ray to see what good vibes do for our bodies. We'll also hear about how each of us have different emotional thermostats and why thinking about our feelings can help us figure out what to do with them. At the end of this episode -- and every episode in this series -- Mallika Chopra shares a meditation that can help us manage our feelings. For more on meditation and mindfulness, you can check out Mallika Chopra’s book for kids, Just Breathe. This episode is sponsored by Old El Paso, Rebel Girls the Podcast (rebelgirls.co/podcast), Relay (relaygo.com/BRAINS for 15% your Relay purchase on Amazon) and New Cloud Control Cat Litter by Arm & Hammer.


4 Jun 2019

Rank #2

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Could it rain lemonade?

If you filled a lake with lemonade, would it rain lemonade? This delicious head-scratcher does not have a straightforward answer. It’s one-part water cycle, one-part delicious drink and if we’re lucky, one-part lemonade rain.


11 Oct 2016

Rank #3

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Introducing: Julie's Library

We're very excited to share an episode of a brand new podcast we've been working on called Julie's Library. It’s hosted by the legendary, the one and only, Julie Andrews. Every week, she and her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton read from their favorite children’s books. The featured book in this episode is Marilyn’s Monster by Michelle Knudsen, and illustrated by Matt Phelan. You can listen to more episodes and subscribe at Apple Podcasts (https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/julies-library-story-time-with-julie-andrews/id1507980417), Spotify (https://open.spotify.com/show/7l9G5ddvRI3BqLf2WVCOS7), Google Podcasts (http://tiny.cc/wrhrpz), or wherever you usually listen. Find out more at julieslibraryshow.org


26 May 2020

Rank #4

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Why do kids have more energy than adults?

We’re taking on an age-old question today: Do kids have more energy than adults? Breakfast tacos, caffeine, an energized DJ and an epic battle between a girl and her parents. This episode has all that and then some. Discover how we turn food into energy at an awesome taco party. Then pump up the jams with DJ Thyroid. Speaking of music, get ready for a song from Lake Street Dive’s Mike Olson. And just when you think the show might be out of energy, we engage in an out-of breath competition between a kid and her parents. Plus, there’s a brand new Mystery Sound and a Moment of Um about why we lose our voices sometimes. This episode is sponsored by Laurel Springs Online School (laurelsprings.com/brainson) and KiwiCo (kiwico.com/brainson)


30 Jun 2020

Rank #5

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Dreams: The science of a sleeping brain

You dream every night, even if you don't remember them. But why? We'll hop on a wild ride to go inside the brain and see which parts help create these often fantastical images and storylines. We'll also learn how to take control of our dreams and how they make us more creative. Plus: a new mystery sound and a Moment of Um answers the question "How do octopuses make ink?" Today’s episode is sponsored by Insectlore.com Shopify.ca/brainson – for a free 14 day trial and full access to Shopify’s entire suite of features Galileo-camps.com – use code FUNSUMMER2022 for $100 off camp PINNA.FM/BRAINSON and use promo code BRAINSON for 50% off your first payment when you sign up for Pinna full access You can support the show at brainson.org/donate, check out our merch at brainson.org/shop or buy our books at brainson.org/books. You can also join our free fan club at brainson.org/fanclub


17 May 2022

Rank #6

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Coronavirus: How to be a helper from home

We’re all doing our best to stay safe from coronavirus, but is there anything we can do for others as well? In this episode we look at some ways you can help from home, like by making masks, donating to food banks or writing letters. Two stars of the World Handwashing Federation stop by to explain the science of how water actually dries out our hands. Plus, Kara and Gilly interview science journalist Carl Zimmer on the weird world of viruses, including some viruses that help people! There’s a listener-submitted mystery sound and this week’s Moment of Um tackles the question: how do seashells get their shape? This episode is sponsored by Betty Crocker bettycrocker.com and Care.com promo code: BRAINS


19 May 2020

Rank #7

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Flavor facts: Why food is so delicious

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).


26 Nov 2019

Rank #8

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Books: How they're made and how your brain reads them

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.


5 Nov 2019

Rank #9

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Flush! Where does our poo and pee go?

Every time you flush, your poo and pee start an epic journey. From the toilet, to the sewers, to a treatment plant, our waste travels quite a distance only to end up cleaner by the end. We'll hear from a "PooTube" star about her experience with "the flush." We'll also hear about ancient sewers, a "fatberg" under London and a toilet that cleans waste on site. Plus, our Moment of Um answers why you can feel your heart beating in your neck of all places. This episode was sponsored by: Indeed (Indeed.com/BRAINS - For a $100 sponsored job credit Terms and conditions apply. Offer good for a limited time.) Shopify (Shopify.com/brainson - For a free 14-day trial and full access to Shopify's entire suite of features.)


8 Nov 2022

Rank #10

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Dolphins vs. Octopuses: Showdown in the sea!

Two of our planet’s most amazing animals go head to head in our latest debate. We’re asking you to decide which animal reigns supreme. Is it the eight-armed, three hearted, shape-shifting octopus? Or the speed-swimming, echolocating, super-jumping dolphin? Listen along as Marc argues for #TeamOctopus and Sanden fights for #TeamDolphin. We’ll learn amazing facts about both sides along the way. Which side are you on? Vote here! Plus an aquatic Mystery Sound, some deep-sea stand up comedy and a Moment of Um answering why flamingos are pink featuring Flora Lichtman from Gimlet Media’s Every Little Thing. You can also share your opinions and your drawings of dolphins and octopuses in the workplace by emailing them to hello at brainson dot org. Can’t wait to see your drawings and hear your thoughts!


30 Jan 2018

Rank #11

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Mermaids, Kraken and the Loch Ness Monster: Making Sense of Myths, pt. 3

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!


24 Dec 2019

Rank #12

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Narwhals: Unicorns of the sea?

Narwhals are whales, and super cool ones at that. But that cool thing coming out of their heads is a tusk, not a horn. Which means it’s a tooth! And it’s the only known spiral tooth to boot! In this episode, we learn all about narwhals (what that tusk is for and how they’re connected to the myth of the unicorn) and the evolution of teeth (from scale-like nubbins to the versatile chompers we have today). Plus our Moment of Um explores whether or not water has a taste. Today’s episode is sponsored by KiwiCo (kiwico.com/brainson), Khan Academy Kids (khan.co/freekidsapp) and iD Tech (idtech.com/brains). Brains On is a non-profit public radio podcast. You can support Brains On at brainson.org/fans.


17 Mar 2020

Rank #13

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Can you dig to the center of the Earth?

Like an onion, the Earth has layers. In this episode we’ll see if you can dig through those layers to get to the center of the planet. We’ll also hear about the Danish scientist who discovered more about Earth’s core by studying earthquakes. Plus, we investigate the phrase “dig a hole to China.” Children’s book author and illustrator Oliver Jeffers stops by to talk about the Earth’s crust. “Here We Are,” his book about our vast and wonderful planet, was just turned into a movie (you can find it on Apple TV+). And our Moment of Um answers the question: do fish have tongues? All that and a Mystery Sound in this very layered episode! This episode is sponsored by KiwiCo (kiwico.com/brainson) and Skylight Frame (skylightframe.com/brains). You can support the show at brainson.org/fans


21 Apr 2020

Rank #14

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Animal farts: A mighty wind

Most animals fart. And some animals put those farts to work.


29 Aug 2017

Rank #15

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Deep Sea vs. Outer Space

It’s time for the next Brains On debate! This intense matchup brings us to the depths of darkness, under the water and beyond our earth’s atmosphere. Who will prevail?


18 Jul 2017

Rank #16

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We have some questions about sleep: It’s ok to stay up late, right? Is it possible to control your dreams? Do all animals sleep? Why do we need to sleep anyway?


1 Aug 2013

Rank #17

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How do pianos work?

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


3 Dec 2019

Rank #18

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Brains On! + The Story Pirates: What makes fun things fun?

We're teaming up with our pals The Story Pirates to learn about the science of having fun! Our experts tell us what makes something fun and why we're so geared toward seeking a good time. Plus, the Story Pirates share their song "Pizza Revenge." We've also got a fun-tastic Mystery Sound and a Moment Of Um all about pirates. How fun is that? Still want more fun? Head over to the Story Pirates to hear more (plus the punchline to a Brains On joke) - apple.co/2wwlgDE Today’s episode is sponsored by Vamousse (vamousselice.com) and Roshambo Baby (roshambobaby.co and offer code BRAINS)


28 Aug 2018

Rank #19

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How do elevators work?

Elevators are like magic. You walk in, the door shuts and when it opens again, you are suddenly someplace new! Ta da! But it’s not magic that does this trick, it’s science and engineering. In this episode we explain how elevators work and we talk about how they’ve changed over time. For instance, did you know the first elevators had no walls? We also speak with historian Lee Gray about two elevator innovators who both happen to be named Otis. Speaking of Otis, Vijay Jayachandran with the Otis Elevator company, joins us to drop some high level elevator facts. Plus, we hear your ideas for the elevators of the future! And listen to the end to our Moment of Um for an answer to this question: Why do crickets chirp?This episode is sponsored by Old El Paso, Sun Basket (sunbasket.com/brains), Panama City Beach (VisitPanamaCityBeach.com) and The Great Courses Plus (thegreatcoursesplus.com/brainson). You can support the show at brainson.org/donate


13 Aug 2019

Rank #20