But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids

But Why is a show led by you, kids! You 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.

Have a question?

Send it to us! Adults, use your smartphone's memo function or an audio app to record your kid's question (get up nice and close so we can hear). Be sure to include: your child's first name, age and town. And then email the audio file to questions@butwhykids.org.

But Why is hosted and produced by Jane Lindholm with help from producer Melody Bodette.

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United States Olympic Winter Games bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor poses for a portrait at the 2017 Team USA Media Summit Monday, Sept. 25, 2017.
Rick Bowmer / AP

What are Olympic medals made of? Why does every country have a flag? The 2018 Winter Olympics are underway in PyeongChang, South Korea. We reached out to medal-winning Olympians Elana Meyers Taylor, Andrew Weibrecht and Hannah Kearney to reflect on what winning a medal represents. And we learn about flags with vexillologist Scot Guenter from San Jose State University.  
 

There are three medals that get awarded to the top finishers in a race or a game: gold for first place, silver for second place and bronze for third place.

Jane Lindholm / VPR

But Why visits the New England Aquarium in Boston to get answers to those and other questions kids have sent us about fish.

Sabina Hahn / Circle Round

Instead of an episode of But Why, we're going to check out an episode of one of our other favorite podcasts.

Circle Round is a storytelling show from WBUR, a public radio station in Boston. On Circle Round, they find stories from all around the world and then get really interesting people to act them out.

This week we're sharing one of their episodes with you! This is one of our favorites. And it's actually about sharing. It's called 'The Lion's Whisker.'

Courtney Bonnell / AP

In this episode, we answer a question from 5-year-old Wyatt in Los Angeles and learn about ancient underground cities in Turkey, the subterranean passageways of Montreal and the dug-out houses of Coober Pedy, Australia. Also in this episode: Why is it so warm underground?

One of the crucial ingredients in the formation of a snowflake is a tiny speck of dust. Learn more about how snow forms in this episode of But Why.
Jane Lindholm / VPR

We're marking the winter solstice with an episode all about snow! Why do snowboards look like skateboards? We get an answer from Burton Snowboards. How is snow made? Why is snow white? Why are all snowflakes different? We'll hear from Jon Nelson, author of "The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter's Wonder." Also why does snow melt? And where is the deepest snow?

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Pennies were first introduced in 1793, when the United States established our system of money.
Darren415

In this episode of But Why we visit a credit union to learn what money is all about and Slate Money hosts Felix Salmon, Anna Szymanski and Jordan Weissman answer questions about why money plays such a big role in modern society. How was money invented? Why can't everything be free? How do you earn money? Why don't kids go to work? How was the penny invented? Why are dimes so small?

pixel_dreams / istock

What's the biggest number? Who was the first mathematician? Why is seven a lucky number? Why is fifth grade math so hard? We're tackling something new: questions about math! With us to offer some answers and some mind-blowing concepts is author Joseph Mazur.

CatLane / istock

Why do we have daylight saving time? And why are days longer in summer and shorter in winter?

Daylight saving time is really just a trick. At least, so says Michael Downing, author of Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time. He's our guest in this episode and he explains the reasons behind this semi-annual ritual of moving the clocks forward and back.

Kevin Smart / istock

On this special episode of But Why, we’re going to introduce you to some of our kids podcast classmates. We’ve all gotten together to create one big podcast episode that gives you a little flavor of what each one of us is all about. Enjoy!

Melody Bodette / VPR

Why do leaves change color in the fall? Why are leaves green? Why don't leaves turn all of the colors of the rainbow? In this episode of But Why, we're talking about fall leaves, and how trees go from green to fiery red, orange and yellow.

istock

This episode of But Why is a serious one. We're talking about death. Why do people die when they get too old? What happens to people when they die? What does it feel like when you're dead? Our guide is Jana DeCristofaro from the Dougy Center: The National Center for Grieving Children in Portland, Oregon, which supports children and families facing serious illness or coping with the loss of a family member.

In this 'But Why' episode - originally released in June 2016 - we look at how to talk to kids about violence in the news.
Allkindza / iStock

In the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history in Las Vegas on Sunday, we're re-releasing our special episode for parents. We speak with Dr. Robin Gurwitch about how to answer questions children may have about violence they hear in the news. She’s a child psychologist at the Duke University Medical Center and she has served on numerous commissions and committees about children and trauma, including the National Advisory Committee on Children and Disasters.

833789384 / istock

Is it OK to do something that you were told not to do and then never tell anybody? We tackle that question from 10-year-old Finn from Seattle. Also in this episode: why do people make really bad choices and want other people's lives to be harder?

RAINEX, 2005

In the last couple of weeks, two big hurricanes have hit parts of the United States and Caribbean islands. In this episode we answer questions from kids who have been hearing the news and wondering: How do hurricanes form? Why do hurricanes strike Florida? Why do hurricanes have names? We speak with atmospheric scientist Shuyi Chen of the University of Washington.

Ken Wiedemann / istock

How is glass made? Why does glass break? Why do bubbles pop? What's it like inside a bubble? We make everything clear in this episode! Our questions from kids in Arizona, Brazil, California and Cambodia.

Honeybees work together to store up honey to survive the winter. Honey is concentrated nectar from flowers.
Jane Lindholm / VPR

Why do bees pollinate? How do bees make honey? Why do bees have stingers? Why do bees die when they sting you? What's the difference between a bee and a wasp? Does honey have healing properties? Vermont farmer and beekeeper John Hayden of The Farm Between answers all of your bee questions! And we learn about one curious kid's app, which he hopes will help save pollinators.

Qvasimodo / istock

In this episode, we're answering some of our frequently asked questions, the questions we hear a lot from all of you: why are there so many different languages? Why do we get hiccups? Why do our fingers get wrinkly in the tub? Why are plants so many colors? Why do leaves change colors in the fall? Why is the sky blue?

Researchers aren't entirely sure, but the current prevailing theory is that flamingos stand on one leg to conserve energy.
Paul Rose / Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust

We’re answering ten questions as quickly as we can in this episode of But Why. Why do onions make you cry? How do hummingbirds hum? Why do flamingos stand on one leg? Do moths have veins in their wings? Do cats that share a home have the same meow? What was the first book? How do libraries get money if people borrow books for free? Why do people have fidget spinners? Why can't my stuffed animal get wet? And how do pigs poop? Can we do it all in 20 minutes?!

Helios8 / iStockphoto.com

How is bread made? Who made the first cake? Why shouldn't you touch raw eggs? On this episode of But Why, we're talking about baking. We get a lesson in bread making on a field trip to King Arthur Flour. Later, the Botanical Society of America weighs in on a recent episode where we talked about why some berries are poisonous.

Moths are fun to watch and easy to photograph in your own backyard. This is an Eastern Panthea Moth (Panthea furcilla).
Kent McFarland

In this episode we're celebrating the official return of summer to the northern hemisphere by answering some summertime questions! How do fireflies glow and can they control how they blink? Why are owls nocturnal? How do they swivel their heads around? And how do they hoot? Plus a few burning questions about why bug bites itch, why poison ivy and caterpillars and berries can all be poisonous, and how come we have to wear sunscreen!

We'll get answers from wildlife biologists Kent McFarland and Bryan Pfeiffer. Plus we hear an episode of one of VPR's other podcasts, Outdoor Radio.

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