Brains On! Science podcast for kids
Brains On! Science podcast for kids
American Public Media
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.
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: ( and Sun Basket ( - promo code: brains on)
Mar 30
35 min
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: And, you can support the show at Or, you can also buy our book, complete with Mystery Photos, at or at your favorite local bookstore. Today’s episode was sponsored by: Sitka Salmon Shares ( Purple (
Mar 23
37 min
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 ( and the FDA (
Mar 16
35 min
What did dinosaurs sound like?
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 ( promo code: brainson) Mathnasium ( FDA (
Mar 9
30 min
Dino Edition: How do we know what dinosaurs looked like?
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 ( KiwiCo ( checkout code: BRAINSON)
Mar 2
29 min
What's in the COVID vaccine?
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: 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: This episode is sponsored by: Sitka Salmon Shares ( and ( promo code: brainson10)
Feb 23
28 min
What's behind the waves and tides?
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 ( and promo code BRAINSON)
Feb 16
27 min
Why do we have crushes?
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?"
Feb 9
35 min
Let's go bananas!
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! Today’s episode is sponsored by: KiwiCo ( code: BRAINSON) Purple ( promo code BRAINSON10)
Feb 2
36 min
A super special shot: All about coronavirus vaccines
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 (
Jan 26
36 min
Load more