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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Many different musical instruments
Katsiaryna Pleshakova / iSt

In this episode of But Why, we hear music from Music for Sprouts' Mr. Chris, Drummer Seny Daffe, and cellist Emily Taubl and answer questions about strings, percussion, and the magic of music itself. Get ready to dance.

Melody Bodette / VPR

Why do turtles need shells and why do they move so slowly? Why do frogs hop? Why are frogs green? Are colorful frogs poisonous? Why do frogs inflate their throats? What are some of the biggest threats to amphibians and reptiles? We wade into a Vermont pond with herpetologists Jim Andrews and Kate Kelly! We also get a preview of the new Earth Rangers podcast.

A telescope on a tripod pointed up toward a night sky.
ClaudioVentrella / iStock

But Why explores the Big Bang, earth, stars and black holes in this call-in episode that aired live on Vermont Public Radio. Astronomer John O'Meara tackles the big bang, the origins of the universe and how we know humans landed on the moon. Plus, why is the earth round? What is space made out of? How are stars formed? Why do the stars shine so bright? What's beyond space?  How long does it take to get to outer space? Will humans ever be able to go to Mars?

Water has the power to shape the land around it.
Jane Lindholm / VPR

In this episode we want to introduce you to another show made at VPR that we think you're really going to like. It's called Timeline and it explores the history of western music. Host James Stewart has just made 4 special episodes exploring the elements fire, water, earth and air. We're bringing you the water episode!

Altayb / istock

But Why will be taking your space questions live on air on July 12! And you can participate from home, where ever you are!

Tom Remp / Billings Farm & Museum

But Why heads to the farm to answer a whole herd of animal questions: How do cows make milk? Why do cows moo? Why do some animals eat grass? Why do pigs have curly tails? Why do pigs have more teats than cows? Why do eggs in the fridge not hatch? How do chicks grow in their eggs? Why do roosters crow? Why do horses have hooves? Why do horses stand up when they sleep? Why are some fences electric?
We get answers at Billings Farm and Museum in Woodstock, Vermont.

Ants tend to live in large, specialized colonies where every individual has a job that benefits the whole community.
Cabezonification / iStock

Why do ants bite? Do both male and female ants have stingers? Do ants sleep? What do they do in the winter? In this episode we learn all about the fascinating world of ants with Brian Fisher, curator of entomology at the California Academy of Sciences. Fisher has identified about 1000 different species of ants!

Northern cardinals have distinctive colors and call to one another at dawn and dusk.
Tyler Pockette / courtesy

How fast can the fastest bird go (and what bird is it?) Why do birds have wings? How do they fly? Why are birds so colorful? And why do they sing at dawn and dusk? In the second part of our live show in April with Bird Diva Bridget Butler, we learn all about birds, and get some lessons in how to sing like our avian neighbors!

John Billingsley / VPR

How do owls eat? Why are owls nocturnal and how do they see in the dark? How do owls swivel their heads all the way around? Why do birds move their heads back and forth when they walk?

This episode was recorded live at The Mega Awesome Super Huge Wicked Fun Podcast Playdate in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Coprid / istock

Why is tape sticky? How do erasers erase? We'll tackle arts and crafts in this episode, answering not just those two questions but learning how to make paint out of rocks and spit!! Vermont artist and wildcrafter Nick Neddo joins us with some tips on how to create your own paint and art supplies.

Ethan Chandra has a condition called heterotaxy, and has gone through five heart surgeries before age 4.
Courtesy / The Chandra Family

After hearing our episode about hearts, 3yo Ethan Chandra, from Middlesex, NJ, wanted to share the story of his own heart. In this podcast extra, Ethan and his 5yo sister Zoe and their mother, Ali, talk about what it's been like for Ethan to live with a condition called heterotaxy.

BahadirTanriover / istock

How does your heart keep you alive? How does it pump blood? Why is blood so important? Why do children have heart surgeries? Why is a baby's heartbeat faster before it's born? Why does blood rush to your head when you're upside down? Why can you feel your heart in your head when you're lying still or under water?

In this episode of But Why, we're going talking about a very special muscle! It keeps us alive and it has its own special rhythm: the heart. Pediatric cardiologist Dr. Jane Crosson from Johns Hopkins Hospital answers questions about the heart.

Melody A / iStock

Why do we laugh? Why do you feel ticklish when someone tickles you? Why can't you tickle yourself? We learn about how humor develops with Gina Mireault of the Infant Laughter Project at Northern Vermont University.

But Why will be live at WBUR Boston's Mega Awesome Super Huge Wicked Fun Podcast Playdate Sunday, April 29! Here's how to come by and check us out!

Dreams are endlessly fascinating. Psychiatrist David Kahn describes dreams as the way your brain thinks while you're asleep.
maroznc / iStock

Why do people dream? Why do people have nightmares? How do dreams happen? Can people who are blind can see in their dreams?

In this episode of But Why, we're answering dreamy questions with psychiatrist Dr. David Khan of Harvard Medical School.

Getting enough sleep is really important for the development of your brain, muscles, and emotional health.
Victor Brave / iStock

Why do people need to sleep? How do we actually go to sleep? How does sleeping get rid of toxins in the brain? And how come when it's nighttime I don't want to go to sleep but when it's morning I don't want to wake up?! Those questions and more, all about sleep. We're joined by pediatric sleep psychologist Dr. Lisa Meltzer.

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.

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?

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