But Why

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?!

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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.

We learn about how babies are made with Cory Silverberg, author of What Makes a Baby.
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How are babies made? We speak with Cory Silverberg, author of What Makes A Baby, for answers to questions about how we all come into the world.

We recently did an episode all about dogs. But after that came out, Nash, from Fort Dodge, IA, sent us a question wondering if dogs ever get strep throat. So we reached back out to Jessica Hekman to get an answer!

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This episode may not be suitable for our youngest listeners or for particularly sensitive kids.

We're discussing animal ethics with author Hal Herzog. In a follow up to our pets episodes, we look at how we treat animals very differently depending on whether we think of them as pets, food, or work animals. Why do some cultures eat cows and others don't? Why do some cultures not have pets at all? And is it okay to breed animals like dogs that have significant health problems even though we love them? Herzog is the author of Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It's So Hard to Think Straight About Animals.

Jane Lindholm / VPR

Why do dogs have whiskers? Why are dogs' eyesight black and white? Why do dogs have so many babies? Why do dogs have tails and we don't? Why are dogs thumbs so high on their paw? Why don't dogs sweat? Why do dogs roll in the grass? Why aren't dogs and cats friends? Veterinarian and dog scientist Jessica Hekman has answers.

Jane Lindholm / VPR

Why do cats purr? How do cats purr? Why can't we purr? Why do cats "talk" to people, but not other cats? Why do cats sharpen their claws? Are orange cats only male? Why do cats like milk and not water? Why are some cats crazy? Can cats see color? All of your cat questions answered with Abigail Tucker, author of The Lion in the Living Room.

Tkgd2007 for Wikipedia / Wikimedia Commons

Who was the first person? Paleoanthropologist Adam Van Arsdale answers one of the most frequent questions we get here at But Why. Also: how does evolution work? Was there a first of every living thing? How did the first animal come alive? How did monkeys turn into people? And what did cavemen eat that we still eat today?

Chris and Martin Kratt chat with Jane Lindholm at the VPR studios.
Meg Malone / VPR

For 20 years, brothers Chris and Martin Kratt have been taking kids on adventures around the world through their TV shows, including Wild Kratts, Zoboomafoo, and Kratts' Creatures. They spent many childhood summers exploring the wilds of Vermont. In this special episode, we are sharing a Vermont Edition interview Jane did with the Kratts for her other radio show.

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