Logo for But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids

But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids

Vermont Public

But Why is a show led by kids. They 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. Know a kid with a question? Record it with a smartphone. Be sure to include your kid's first name, age, and town and send the recording to questions@butwhykids.org!

Vermont Public

But Why is a show led by kids. They 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. Know a kid with a question? Record it with a smartphone. Be sure to include your kid's first name, age, and town and send the recording to questions@butwhykids.org!

Vermont Public
100hr 51min
Thumbnail for "Where does the sky end?".
Where is the border between sky and space? That's what 5-year-old Matthias of Durham, New Hampshire wants to know. Alesandra, 3 of Bella Vista, Arkansas wants to know why we can't hold air. In this…
Thumbnail for "Why do we wear clothes? ".
Have you ever been threading one leg through a pair of pants in the morning and wondered…why do we wear clothes anyway? Or wondered why pockets in clothing designed for girls are sometimes smaller t…
Thumbnail for "Who invented pizza?".
How is pizza dough made? How does gluten-free dough rise? Who invented pizza? Is there pizza in every country? Is yeast alive?! Kids love pizza and they have questions! We get answers from Frank…
Thumbnail for "Why do oranges have peels?".
Why do oranges have peels? Why is the inside of an orange segmented? Why are lemons and limes so sour? Why do lemons have seeds but limes don’t? Why does fruit have juice? How many oranges are in a …
Thumbnail for "Do people eat bugs?".
Yes! In many parts of the world, insects are a regular part of people’s diets. Bugs are an efficient source of protein, and many cultures find them delicious. Some countries, like the US, don’t hav…
Thumbnail for "Why do cicadas come out every 17 years?".
This spring, trillions of periodical cicadas are emerging from the ground, where they’ve spent 13 or 17 years feeding on xylem (basically, tree juice).  The two specific broods emerging this year ha…
Thumbnail for "What's cool about cockroaches?".
That’s a question a lot of people have, honestly. But a kid named Rosie was bold enough to ask us to investigate why. So, in the latest episode, we dig in on why cockroaches get such a bad rap and why you might want to reconsider if you’re not a fan. 
Thumbnail for "How do crocodiles chomp?".
Why do lizards have scales? Why are reptiles cold-blooded? Why do lizards have long tongues? How do lizards grow their tails back? Are crocodiles dinosaurs? What’s the difference between an alligator and a crocodile? Why do crocodile eyes look like they have mirrors in the back? How do crocodiles chomp? Why do crocodile teeth stay sharp? Why are crocodiles green? Why do crocodiles swim? Answers to all of your crocodile and alligator questions with Venetia Briggs-Gonzalez, one of the researchers known as the Croc Docs at the University of Florida. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript
Thumbnail for "Why do ballerinas wear ballet shoes? ".
Why do people dance? Where did ballet come from? How do you make pointe shoes for ballet? How does practice make you better at things? But Why visited Dance Theatre of Harlem to get answers to these questions with company artists Derek Brockington and Lindsey Donnell.
Thumbnail for "What is a solar eclipse?".
A solar eclipse is coming to North America on April 8, 2024. The moon will line up perfectly between the Earth and the sun, blocking out the sun’s light and casting a shadow that will pass over parts of Mexico, the United States and Canada.
Thumbnail for "How do invasive species take over?".
Why are there Burmese pythons and chameleons in the Florida Everglades? We might not know how those animals arrived but they are causing damage to the natural ecosystem. An invasive species outcompetes native plants and animals in an ecosystem.
Thumbnail for "Can snowstorms have thunder?".
How is snow made and what’s it made out of? Why is it white and sparkly? Why do snowflakes look different? Can snowstorms have thunder? Why do some places, like mountains, get more snow than others? Answers to all of your questions about snow, with Seth Linden, who works for the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. Plus we hear what it’s like to live at the top of Mount Washington, famous for its extreme weather, from Alexandra Branton, a meteorologist who works at the observatory at the top of the mountain, even during the frigid winter.
Thumbnail for "Why do we need glasses? ".
How do glasses work? Why do some people need glasses and other people don’t? Why do we have different eye colors? We answer your questions about glasses and eyes in the second of two episodes with Dr. Sujata Singh, a pediatric ophthalmologist at the University of Vermont Medical Center. And we hear from Maggie, a kid with low vision, about what it’s like to need glasses.
Thumbnail for "Why do we have two eyes if we only see one image?".
What shape are our eyes? What are they made of? How do they work? What’s the point of having two eyes if we only see one image? Why do we blink? What’s the point of tears and why are they salty? We answer your questions about eyes in the first of two episodes with Dr. Sujata Singh, a pediatric ophthalmologist at the University of Vermont Medical Center.
Thumbnail for "What if the world started spinning backward?".
We’ve collaborated with our podcast friends at What If World to bring you the first (and only) episode of…But Why If World! In this episode we jointly answer some “what if” questions. What if cereal could talk to us? What if dinosaurs didn’t lay eggs? What if the world started spinning backwards? Take a listen to this curious collaboration.
Thumbnail for "What makes you happy?".
For our last episode of each year, we often like to ask our listeners around the world to send us something fun. This year, we wanted you to tell us what makes you happy and you had a lot to share on that topic!
Thumbnail for "What's it like to be bilingual?".
Almost half the people in the world speak at least two languages. And, it turns out, that includes a lot of But Why listeners! In this episode we talk about what it’s like to speak multiple languages and kids from around the world share phrases in many different languages so we can all learn something new! Plus, linguist and professor Anna Babel answers questions we’ve gotten about languages, including: What does it mean to be bilingual? Why do some people speak two or three languages? How many languages can someone learn?
Thumbnail for "How are electric guitars made? ".
How are electric guitars made? How are guitar strings made? And how, exactly, do guitars work? We’re answering questions about electric guitars with local luthier (guitarmaker) Lea in Burlington, Vermont. Creston gave us a tour of his studio–including his custom glitter room, to help us understand what goes into making an electric guitar.
Thumbnail for "Why are pandas black and white?".
For the past 50 years, visitors to the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C. were able to see giant pandas. But recently, China asked for those pandas back.
Thumbnail for "Why do we celebrate birthdays?".
Why do we celebrate birthdays? Why do we have birthday cakes? Why do we blow out candles on our birthdays? Why are our birthdays on the same date but a different day of the week each year? This episode has answers to all of your birthday questions - plus we hear about unique birthday traditions sent in by our listeners!
Thumbnail for "Why do we like being scared? ".
Why do some people like haunted houses and scary movies? What is fear? Why do humans have fear! Why do we get goosebumps, blink a lot and scream when we’re scared? Why are some of us afraid of what’s in our closet or under the bed at night?
Thumbnail for "How is meat made in a lab? ".
How is meat made in a lab? That’s what 10-year-old Nate in New Jersey wants to know! Scientists have figured out how to grow meat in laboratories. Some hope lab-grown meat will be able to help address issues like global food insecurity, agricultural pollution and animal cruelty.
Thumbnail for "Why do people get older?".
Younger people have lots of questions about older people, like: Why do we age? Why do people get gray or white hair?
Thumbnail for "How do birds fly?".
Why do birds fly? How do raptors soar? Why do some birds fly in the shape of a V? Why can’t some birds, like penguins, emus and ostriches fly? Why do hummingbirds fly so fast? We answer all of your questions about birds and flight with help from Anna Morris of the Vermont Institute of Natural Science and Bridget Butler, the Bird Diva.
Thumbnail for "What are sun bears?".
Have you heard of sun bears? They’re the smallest of the world’s 8 types of bear, about half the size of a black bear, and among the least well-known. We learn about sun bears with the head of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, and then explore why some other types of bears hibernate during winter months.
Thumbnail for "Why don't bicycles fall over?".
It's all about bikes in this episode of But Why? How come bicycles stay up when you're riding, but fall over once you stop? We turn to Andy Ruina, professor of engineering at Cornell University, for the scientific answer. We also learn how a bike chain works and Olympic mountain biker Lea Davison tells how to get started when riding.
Thumbnail for "How do we learn to read? ".
11-year-old Alaska (from Colorado) wants to know: why do some kids love reading while others don’t? We know there’s a lot of debate lately about the best ways to teach kids how to read. But in this episode we leave the pedagogy to adults and let kids share with one another why they love to read and their best tips for kids like them, who may be struggling to learn (and love) to read.
Thumbnail for "How are crickets so loud?".
How are crickets so loud? Why do they chirp at night?
Thumbnail for "Why do we have allergies?".
Why is it that some people have allergies when others don’t, even if they’re in the same family? Can you grow out of your allergies? And is anyone allergic to water? Allergy researcher Dr. Ruchi Gupta answers kid questions about allergies! Plus, promising treatments to help relieve allergy suffering.
Thumbnail for "What are eels?".
What are eels? And why are some eels electric? We head to Poughkeepsie, New York to learn about eels with Chris Bowser, Hudson River estuary educator with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. Plus we learn about electric eels.
Thumbnail for "Why is social media so addictive?".
Why do people spend so much time on social media? But Why answers kids' questions about social media and screen time and we learn about how to be a good citizen online with Devorah Heitner, author of Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World and Growing Up In Public: Coming of Age in a Digital World, coming in September.
Thumbnail for "Why do wolves howl?".
Why do wolves howl at the moon? Do wolves have different howls? How were wolves domesticated into dogs? How do wolves run fast for so long? What kind of habitats do wolves prefer?
Thumbnail for "Nine questions about nature in cities".
Do bears ever live in cities? Why do so many crows gather together on winter nights? How many raccoons are there in cities? What’s the deal with so many maple trees in Vermont? Why are flowers different colors? How are snakes born with venom? Why do some foxes turn white in the winter and others don’t?
Thumbnail for "Why aren’t babies just little adults?".
Why are babies small and grownups big? Why are babies so helpless, instead of little versions of adults? Do babies know they're babies? How do babies grow? How do babies learn to talk?
Thumbnail for "Why do we donate blood?".
One of the things that makes blood so special is we can share it with other people! Scientists and doctors have figured out safe ways to take the blood from one person and put it into the body of a different person who needs it. That’s called a transfusion. Why would someone need more blood?
Thumbnail for "Why do we have blood and what does it do?".
Why do people have blood, what is it, and what does it do? How do our bodies make new blood? Is it red or blue? Why does blood taste like metal? And why do we have different blood types? Our listeners have a lot of questions about blood. We learn about blood with UVM Medical Center and Larner College of Medicine pathologist Dr. Sarah Harm.
Thumbnail for "How do water slides work?".
How do water slides work and how are they built? Why do you have to be a certain age or height to go down a water slide? Where does the water in water parks come from? And which is easier to design and build: a water slide or a roller coaster?
Thumbnail for "Carrots give you night vision! And other things adults say".
In this episode: part two of parentisms- you know, the things adults like to say that may or may not be true. So many of these sayings have to do with food: Eating carrots will improve your vision. Drinking coffee will make you shorter. Don’t swallow watermelon seeds or they’ll grow in your stomach. We do a little fact checking on this generational eating advice with Dr. Nusheen Ameenuddin of the Mayo Clinic.
Thumbnail for "Don’t swallow gum! And other things parents say".
We wanted to hear about the conventional wisdom, parenting myths, and downright folksy falsehoods adults pass down to kids, and boy did we get a big response!
Thumbnail for "How do axolotls regrow parts of their bodies–including their brains? ".
In addition to having faces that look like a smiley emoticon, axolotls are as fascinating to scientific researchers as they are to kids because of their amazing ability to regenerate parts of their bodies, including their brains!
Thumbnail for "Why do bison run fast but walk slowly?".
What do bison, moose, Gila monsters, parrots and snails have in common? Well….nothing, except they all appear in this episode! We’re rounding up some of the animal questions you’ve sent us lately. Why do bison walk slow but run fast? What’s the thing hanging down from the neck of a moose? Why do Gila monsters bite? How do parrots talk? Why do snails have slime?
Thumbnail for "Jane and Melody’s favorite 2022 episodes".
As we close out 2022, Jane and Melody look back at some of their favorite episodes of 2002. Why do we have friends? Why are some people left-handed? Why do pigs oink? And why is Russia invading Ukraine?
Thumbnail for "How do boats float? ".
How do big cargo ships and ferries float, even though they are so heavy? Why do boats float but stones sink? How do paddles make boats move? What’s inside those enormous container ships? We learn about the physics of floating with Fahad Mahmood, professor of physics at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. If you do any of the activities we mention in the episode, send us your videos!
Thumbnail for "Why do armadillos have shells? Why are sloths slow? ".
Why do armadillos have shells? How do they roll into balls? Why are sloths so slow? Can sloths actually move fast? How do they defend against predators? Why do they have such long nails?
Thumbnail for "Who invented emoji? ".
Emoji are those little images you can send in text messages to friends and family. Nine-year-old Leila in New Jersey wants to know how they were invented.
Thumbnail for "How did dinosaurs leave tracks? ".
But Why has answers to your dinosaur questions! When did the dinosaurs live? How many species of dinosaurs were alive in the Cretaceous period? How do dinosaurs get their names (and why are they hard to say)? Why are dinosaurs extinct? We visit Dinosaur Valley State Park in Texas to see some actual dinosaur evidence: tracks left by two types of dinosaur 113 million years ago.
Thumbnail for "How is cheese made?".
Kids love cheese! (So do adults: Americans consume an average of 40 pounds of cheese per person per year.) In this episode we learn how cheese is made and answer all of your cheesy questions: Why are there different types of cheese? Why do cheeses have different flavors? How do you make Colby Jack cheese? How does cheese get its color? And why do we say cheese when we take a picture? We visit the Cabot Cheese factory and talk with Maegen Olsen and Panos Lekkas.
Thumbnail for "How do bees make honey and why do they sting?".
Why do bees pollinate? How do they make honey? Why do bees have stingers? Why do (some) bees die when they sting you? What's the difference between a bee and a wasp? Does honey have healing properties? Farmer and beekeeper John Hayden answers all of your bee questions!
Thumbnail for "Why do sharks have so many teeth?".
Why do sharks have multiple sets of teeth? Why do sharks lose so many teeth? Do sharks eat fish? How do sharks breathe underwater? Do sharks sleep? Give a listen to this totally jaw-some conversation about sharks with Dr. Kady Lyons, shark researcher at the Georgia Aquarium!
Thumbnail for "How do popcorn kernels pop?".
How do popcorn kernels pop? How do salmon know where to return to spawn? How do rabbits change colors? Why does television fry your brain? How do zippers zip stuff? Who was the fastest runner in the world? In this episode, we'll tackle all of these questions!
Thumbnail for "How do snakes slither? ".
Field trip time! Today we’re learning all about snakes while out on a search for timber rattlesnakes in New York with state wildlife biologist Lisa Pipino. Some of the questions we tackle: How do some snakes make venom? Why are some snakes venomous and others are not? Why do rattlesnakes have a rattle? How do snakes slither on the ground without legs? Why don’t snakes have legs?
Thumbnail for "Why do we feel pain? ".
Why do we feel pain when we get hurt? What is pain? Why do we cry when we get hurt? Why do we say ow or ouch? We’re learning about how pain works with Joshua Pate. He’s a physical therapist and author of a forthcoming children’s book series about pain.
Thumbnail for "Why do we have friends?".
Why do friends care about each other? How do you make friends? Can you have more than one best friend? How do you deal with a bully? We answer questions about friends and bullies with Dr. Friendtastic (also known as Eileen Kennedy-Moore), a psychologist and author of Growing Friendships: A Kids’ Guide to Making and Keeping Friends. And we get lots of advice from kids themselves about how to make friends and deal with bullies.
Thumbnail for "Why do crickets chirp?".
How are crickets so loud? Why do they chirp at night? How are they different from grasshoppers? We’re talking crickets today with Karim Vahed, a cricket and katydid expert and entomologist (bug scientist) at the University of Derby in the United Kingdom. Professor Vahed also takes on some of your pressing insect questions: Do insects have bones? What do baby bugs like to do? Do insects drink water? Why are bugs so important?
Thumbnail for "Who doesn’t love ice cream?".
That’s just one of the questions we answer in this week’s episode, which also includes instructions on how to easily make your own ice cream at home! We’ll also tackle the why and how of melting ice cream and why some flavors tend to melt faster than others! Our expert in this episode is ice cream entrepreneur Rabia Kamara, of Ruby Scoops in Richmond, Virginia. It's going to be sweet!
Thumbnail for "Do you have to be tall to play basketball? Questions for the Washington Mystics".
The Washington Mystics of the WNBA join us in this episode to answer all of your questions about the sport of basketball and what it’s like to be a professional athlete. How many basketballs does the team have? Who invented basketball? Why are basketballs orange with black lines? Why do people think sports are for boys? Do you get hated on for being a girl playing basketball? How do injuries impact professional careers? And do you have to be tall to play hoops?
Thumbnail for "Why are pandas black and white?".
For the past 50 years, visitors to the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C. have been able to observe giant pandas. It’s one of the few places in the United States to see these black and white bears. For our latest episode we took a field trip to the zoo to visit the three pandas currently living there and answer panda questions with zookeeper Mariel Lally.
Thumbnail for "Special Episode: How do you talk to kids about violence in the news?".
When there's mass violence in the news, especially when it involves children, it can be really hard to know how to speak to your kids about what is going on. In this special episode FOR ADULTS, we talk with a child psychologist about some recommended ways to approach these conversations. We first released this episode in 2016, and are heartbroken and angry that it remains so relevant.
Thumbnail for "What is climate change?".
What is climate change? What is causing climate change? How do you cool down the earth? How is climate change affecting the oceans? Kids are hearing about climate change and they have lots of questions. In this episode we explain the science of climate change and look at how humans will adapt to a rapidly warming planet. We speak with Dr. Claudia Benitez-Nelson, oceanographer at the University of South Carolina and Dr. Jola Ajibade, a geographer at Portland State University.
Thumbnail for "Why do flowers bloom? ".
Why do flowers bloom? How do flowers grow? Why are flowers different colors? Why do people find flowers beautiful? How are seeds made? Why do plants grow from seeds? Why do we put seeds in the garden? We’re answering your questions about seeds and flowers with garden writer Charlie Nardozzi and Hannes Dempewolf from The Crop Trust.
Thumbnail for "Why are some people left-handed?".
Why are some people right-handed and some are left-handed? And what’s up with some people being ambidextrous (equally good with both hands)? Why, in the past, did some people try to make left-handed people use their right hands? We talk with Chris McManus, professor and author of the book Right Hand, Left Hand: The Origins of Asymmetry in Brains, Bodies, Atoms, and Cultures. We’ll even find out how common left-handedness (or left-pawedness) is in other animals!
Thumbnail for "Why do pigs oink?".
Why do pigs snort? And why do we call their snorts “oink” in English? We’re taking our exploration of animal noises in two directions today. First we’ll learn about why we use different words to describe animal noises, depending on what language we’re speaking. And then we’ll examine what animals are actually saying when they oink or tweet or moo! Our guests are Arika Okrent and bioacoustic researcher Elodie Briefer, of the University of Copenhagen. Other questions we tackle in this episode: Do cows make different amounts of “moos” to say different words? Why do ducks make loud noises? Why do roosters cockadoodle-do in the morning? PLUS, so many kids sent us animal noises in different languages and we’ll hear them all!
Thumbnail for "How much does the moon weigh?".
We’re bringing back an episode from the archives, all about the moon: Why does the moon change shape? How much does it weigh? What color is it? Why does the Earth only have one moon? Why does it have holes? Where does it go when we can't see it? Why do we sometimes see it in the daytime? And why does the moon look like it's following you when you're in the car? Answers to your moon questions with John O'Meara, chief scientist at the W.M. Keck Observatory.
Thumbnail for "Why is Russia invading Ukraine? ".
The invasion of Ukraine has been the top story in the news for the last few weeks, and kids around the world are asking questions about what is happening and what it means for them. In this episode we ask Erin Hutchinson, Assistant Professor of Russian History at the University of Colorado Boulder, to help us understand the history behind this conflict.
Thumbnail for "How did people keep food cold in olden times? ".
Violet, 5, wants to know: what was life like before refrigerators? And Ellinor, 6, asks: how did they make ice in the old times? In this episode, we learn about the history of ice harvesting and the industry that built up around it, where ice cut from lakes in New England was shipped to as far away as India and the Caribbean. We hear more about this history from Gavin Weightman, author of The Frozen Water Trade.
Thumbnail for "Why is the heart a symbol of love?".
Why is the heart a symbol of love? Why do people draw hearts when they love someone? Why do we draw hearts the way we do when they're nothing like the hearts inside of your body? And do we need a heart to love or does the brain do it? We’re learning all about hearts and symbolism with Thomas and Stephen Amidon, authors of The Sublime Engine: A Biography of the Human Heart.
Thumbnail for "How are images chosen for coins?".
The U.S. Mint is producing a new series of quarters featuring American women. The first one, featuring poet Maya Angelou, has just been released. We're learning about coins are made and how images are chosen for money around the world. The US has a law preventing any living person from appearing on its money. Kenya has a new rule preventing any individual people on their money at all. Meanwhile, many countries with kings or queens have those leaders on their money while they’re still in power. Questions we tackle in this episode: How are coins made and how do they get their logos? How are presidents chosen for coins? Why does Lincoln have his shoulder in the picture while other presidents don’t? Why are coins different sizes? What are coins made of?
Thumbnail for "Why does the wind blow? ".
What causes wind? How is wind created? Why does the wind blow in different ways? How does the wind start blowing and what makes it stop? Why is it windy by the ocean? Why does it get windy when the weather is changing? How is it you can you feel and hear the wind but not see it? Why is the wind sometimes strong and sometimes cold? Answers to all of your wind questions with National Weather Service Meteorologist Rebecca Duell.
Thumbnail for "What would you invent? Ideas from kids".
We asked our listeners: if you could invent anything what would it be? And we got so many fantastic ideas from kids all over the world: a solar cooler, a chimney that changes carbon dioxide to oxygen, a slide that gives you an ice cream cone at the bottom, and more. Some kids would like to invent robots that do their chores, flying cars, teleporting devices to take them back in time, and even a bully behavior zapper.
Thumbnail for "Why do seasons change? ".
Why do seasons change? Why does it get darker earlier in the winter and why is there more daylight in the summer? Why are some seasons warm and some are cold and icy? Why do some places not have seasonal changes at all? We’re learning about solstices, equinoxes and seasons in this episode of But Why. Our guide is John O’Meara, Chief Scientist at Hawaii’s Keck Observatory. And kids around the world tell us what they like best about their favorite season. 
Thumbnail for "How are babies made?".
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. This is a conversation that welcomes all kinds of families as we answer questions about why babies don't hatch out of eggs, why boys have nipples, why girls have babies but boys don't and why some people look more like one parent more than the other. Later in the episode we also explore how we get our last names and how two people can have the same last name when they're not related. We made this episode with our youngest listeners in mind, but parents may want to preview this episode on their own or listen with their kids.
Thumbnail for "Do skyscrapers scrape the sky?".
Why is the Burj Khalifa so tall? That’s what 5-year-old Simon wants to know. The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world and it’s located in Dubai. 6-year-old Isabel, who lives in Dubai, visited the tower and gives us the bird’s eye view in this episode! Plus, Janny Gédéon, architecture educator and founder of ArchForKids answers lots more questions about tall buildings: How are tall buildings built? How do they stay up? Why are so many buildings squares or rectangles? How do they make buildings that are taller than cranes? 
Thumbnail for "How do squirrels climb trees? ".
Squirrels are everywhere. Three hundred or so species of these often adorable rodents live on every continent except Antarctica. No matter where you live, city or country you’re bound to have squirrels nearby. How much do you know about our bushy-tailed neighbors? How fast do squirrels and chipmunks run? Why do squirrels have big bushy tails? Do squirrels get sick? Why do they like nuts better than berries? How do squirrels eat acorns? How do squirrels sleep? Are squirrels nocturnal? Answers to your squirrel questions with Ben Dantzer, scientist at University of Michigan. Plus some observational activities you can do to learn more about squirrel behavior!
Thumbnail for "Why is it a shot? Kids’ questions about COVID vaccines".
On October 26th, an FDA advisory panel will meet to discuss whether or not to recommend the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11. With potential approval coming soon, we’re answering questions from kids and parents about the vaccine, including: Why does it have to be a shot? How do vaccines work? How does a vaccine trial work? Should an 11.5yo get the shot as soon as it’s available or wait until age 12 to get the larger dose?
Thumbnail for "How Do Apples Grow? ".
Why do apples have stems? Why do fruits start out as flowers? How did the first apple grow when no one was there to plant its seed? Why can you make a seedless grape and not a seedless apple? Why are apples so juicy? How is apple juice made? Why are apples hard and pears soft? In this episode we take a field trip to Champlain Orchards in Shoreham, Vermont to learn more about apples. Our guides are 10-year-old Rupert Suhr, his father, Bill, and apple expert Ezekiel Goodband.
Thumbnail for "How Deep Is The Ocean? ".
We’re exploring a part of the world that not much is known about—in fact, you could be one of the people who help us understand and learn more about this very important, and very large, part of our earth.
Thumbnail for "Why Do Americans Use The Word ‘Soccer?’ ".
Kala wants to know why we say soccer in the United States, when the rest of the world calls the game "football." In this episode we hear from people who make their living in the game, including coaches and commentators and former pros Alexi Lalas and Alejandro Moreno.
Thumbnail for "Who Invented Money?".
In this episode of But Why we visit a credit union to learn what money is all about. And Felix Salmon, Anna Szymanski and Jordan Weissman from Slate Money 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? How was the penny invented? Why are dimes so small?
Thumbnail for "What If You’re Scared To Start School? ".
Five-year-old Odin in Wyoming is about to start school and he sent us this question: If I’m terrified about kindergarten do I have to go? What should I do if I’m scared? What if kids are mean to me? In this episode, tips and suggestions from our listeners for kids returning to school, along with answers from guidance counselor Tosha Todd and National Teacher of the Year Juliana Urtubey.
Thumbnail for "Why Do We Wear Clothes? ".
Have you ever been threading one leg through a pair of pants in the morning and wondered…why do we wear pants anyway? Or wondered why pockets in clothing designed for girls are sometimes smaller than the pockets in clothing designed for boys? In this episode we’ll tackle your questions about clothes with fashion historian and writer Amber Butchart. 
Thumbnail for "What's the Cleverest Thing A Hippo Can Do?".
What is the cleverest thing hippos can do? This week we’re answering seven quirky questions about animals! Why do elephants like peanuts? Why do cows put their tongues up their noses? Has anyone ever ridden a tiger? How do woodpeckers cling to trees? Why is some bird poop black and some is white? Why do people make animals like sharks and bears sound way scarier than they are?
Thumbnail for "Why Are Fireworks Bright? ".
What are fireworks made of, why are they bright and loud, and how do people make them? And, why do Americans celebrate the 4th of July with fireworks? We learn about pyrotechnics with licensed fireworks professional John Steinberg. And David Chavez, an explosives expert at Los Alamos National Laboratory tells us how changes to the materials used in fireworks can make them better for the environment and unleash new, more vibrant colors in the night sky. We also address firework safety and how to impress your friends by knowing what kinds of metals are in the fireworks you’re watching or the sparklers you’re playing with.
Thumbnail for "Who Invented Noodles?".
This week, we answer a question from 4-year-old Hugo in Burlington, Vt. Hugo wants to know how noodles are made. We visit M.Y. China, a restaurant in San Francisco, CA to watch executive chef Tony Wu hand-pull 16,000 noodles and hear from the restaurant's owner, chef Martin Yan, host of the PBS show Yan Can Cook. And to give us some historical context, Jen Lin-Liu, author of On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome with Love and Pasta, shares her insight.
Thumbnail for "Are Seeds Alive? ".
Are seeds alive? What are they made of? Here in Vermont it's planting time, and we've been getting a lot of questions about seeds from kids around the world. In this episode we'll explore the importance of preserving seed diversity with Hannes Dempewolf of the Global Crop Diversity Trust. Plus, ethnobotanist and Abenaki scholar Fred Wiseman shares a little bit about a project called Seeds of Renewal, which aims to find seeds traditionally grown by Abenaki people in our region and return them to cultivation.
Thumbnail for "How Are Words Added To The Dictionary?".
Our guest this week is a lexicographer. That's someone who studies words and, in this case, edits dictionaries. Emily Brewster is a senior editor at Merriam-Webster and host of the podcast Word Matters.
Thumbnail for "How Do You Whistle? ".
How do people whistle? How does whistling make a sound? Why does your tongue change a whistle higher or lower? Can you get a trophy for whistling? Can people with laryngitis whistle? Get ready, we learn all about whistling with musician and champion whistler Emily Eagen and musician Yuki Takeda. And who whistles our theme song? We'll hear from musician Luke Reynolds, and a kid whistling chorus from our listeners!
Thumbnail for "How Are Rocks Formed? ".
How are rocks made? Why are some rocks hard and others soft? How do rocks shine? How are geodes and crystals made? Why do some rocks have gems in them? Answers to your rock questions with Hendratta Ali, rock doctor! Ali is a geologist who studies and teaches at Fort Hays State University in Kansas.
Thumbnail for "Ethics: Is It OK To Break A Rule?".
Is it OK to do something that you were told not to do and then never tell anybody? In this episode we tackle that thorny question from 10-year-old Finn from Seattle. We'll also wrestle with the question, "Why do people make really bad choices and want other people's lives to be harder?"
Thumbnail for "Why Do We Compete? ".
3-year-old Kai from Tokyo, Japan asks: "Why do we need to compete with other people, especially friends, for example on a sports day or at gym class?"
Thumbnail for "Why Are Mammoths Extinct? ".
In the ice age, megafauna roamed North America: mammoths, saber-toothed cats, even giant land sloths! What happened to them? In this episode we answer questions about the ice age: What was it? Did birds live during that time period? How about giraffes? Did people live with woolly mammoths? Why did mammoths go extinct? We'll answer your questions with Ross MacPhee, senior curator at the American Museum of Natural History.
Thumbnail for "What’s Your Idea To Clean Up The Great Pacific Garbage Patch? ".
In 2019, we answered a question about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a huge mass of plastic and other trash swirling around in the Pacific Ocean. Mary James heard that episode and was so inspired, she created a device to help clean up the plastic in the ocean. In this episode of But Why, we learn about her invention, the mermicorn!
Thumbnail for "What Are Robots Doing On Mars?".
On Thursday, February 18th, a robot called a rover is expected to land on the surface of Mars and begin collecting information scientists hope will help us learn if life ever existed on that planet! We answer your Mars questions with Mitch Schulte, NASA program scientist for the Mars 2020 mission.
Thumbnail for "Cool Beans: How Chocolate And Coffee Get Made ".
How is chocolate made? Why can't we eat chocolate all the time? Why is chocolate dangerous for dogs? Why do adults like coffee? In this episode, we tour Taza Chocolate in Somerville, Massachusetts to learn how chocolate goes from bean to bar. Then we visit a coffee roaster in Maine to learn about this parent-fuel that so many kids find gross! And we'll learn a little about Valentine's Day.
Thumbnail for "Why Are Cactuses Spiky? ".
What makes a cactus a cactus? And what are you supposed to call a group of these plants--cacti, cactuses, or cactus?! We'll find out in today's episode, as we learn more about the cactus family with Kimberlie McCue of the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona.
Thumbnail for "What's A Screaming Hairy Armadillo? How Animals Get Their Names".
Why are whale sharks called whale sharks? Why are guinea pigs called pigs if they're not pigs? Why are eagles called bald eagles if they're not bald? You also ask us lots of questions about why and how animals got their names. So today we're going to introduce you to the concept of taxonomy, or how animals are categorized, and we'll also talk about the difference between scientific and common names.
Thumbnail for "Hopes And Dreams For 2021 From Kids Around The World".
As the new year dawns, what are you hopeful for in 2021? Even though the change of the calendar year is mostly symbolic, New Year's Day is often a time for looking back on the year that just passed and setting goals for the year ahead. We asked you to share your hopes and dreams for 2021, from the end of the COVID-19 pandemic to your own personal goals. In this episode, more than 100 kids from around the world offer New Year's resolutions.
Thumbnail for "Why Do Things Seem Scary In The Dark? ".
Lots of people are afraid of the dark, including many kids who have shared that fear with us. In today's episode we explore the fear of the dark with Daniel Handler, better known as Lemony Snicket, the author of the Series of Unfortunate Events books, and a picture book for young kids called The Dark.
Thumbnail for "Why Aren’t Babies Just Little Adults? ".
Why are babies small and grownups big? Why are babies so helpless, instead of little versions of adults? Do babies know they're babies? How do babies grow? How do babies learn to talk? Kids have been sending us lots of questions about babies! This week we’re learning more about the development of the human brain with Celeste Kidd, professor of psychology and primary investigator at the Kidd Lab at the University of California Berkeley.
Thumbnail for "Why Are We Still Talking About The Election?".
A few weeks ago we talked about why kids can't vote and we also answered some questions about the U.S. Presidential Election. It's been two weeks since the November 3rd election, but we're still getting questions about it! We get answers from NPR political reporter Ayesha Rascoe.
Thumbnail for "Why Do Whales Sing? ".
In our most recent episode, we answered questions about  really big animals: whales! We covered a lot when it comes to these huge aquatic mammals but there was one big topic we didn't get to: and that's how whales communicate. 
Thumbnail for "Why Are Whales So Big?".
How do whales spray water? Why are humpback whales so fat and blue whales so long, and why are blue whales blue?
Thumbnail for "Why Can't Kids Vote? ".
In the United States, where But Why is based, we have a big election coming up. Election Day is officially on November 3rd.
Thumbnail for "Why Are Some Animals Pets And Others Are Lunch?".
This episode may not be suitable for our youngest listeners or for particularly sensitive kids.
Thumbnail for "Why Do Dogs Have Tails? ".
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? W
Thumbnail for "Why Do Cats Sharpen Their Claws? ".
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?
Thumbnail for "Vaccines, Masks and Handwashing: A Coronavirus Update".
In this installment, we follow up on our March episode about the novel coronavirus now that we know more about COVID-19 and how it spreads. Dr. Krutika Kuppalli, assistant clinical professor of infectious diseases at the Medical University of South Carolina, returns to answer questions about the things we can do to keep ourselves and those around us safe.
Thumbnail for "How Do You Make Ice Cream? ".
How is ice cream made? Why does it make you thirsty? Why does ice cream melt?
Thumbnail for "What Happens To The Forest After A Fire? ".
Why do forest fires happen? What happens to the forest after a fire? Sometimes you send us questions about things you've heard about, and sometimes you send us questions about your experiences.
Thumbnail for "Why Do Ladybugs Have Spots? Do Dragonflies Bite?".
This week, we're getting out our bug nets and talking about dragonflies and ladybugs!
Thumbnail for "But Why Live: A Musical Celebration".
In this special live episode But Why had a musical celebration with Mister Chris, the Junkman and May Erlewine, and we heard your songs.
Thumbnail for "But Why Live: A Discussion About Race And Racism".
In this special live episode But Why held a discussion about race and racism with the authors of ABCs of Diversity, Y. Joy Harris-Smith and Carolyn Helsel.
Thumbnail for "But Why Live: Trees".
In this special live episode learned about trees and tree communication with scientists Alexia Constantinou and Katie McMahen of the Simard Lab at the University of British Columbia.
Thumbnail for "But Why Live: Kid Press Conference with Governor Phil Scott".
In this special live episode we held a kid press conference with Vermont Governor Phil Scott.
Thumbnail for "Why Do Spiders Have Eight Legs?".
Why don't spiders stick to their own webs? How do spiders walk up walls and on ceilings without falling? Why do spiders have eight legs and eight eyes? How do they make webs? And silk?
Thumbnail for "But Why Live: Words and Language".
In this special live episode we learn about words and language with linguist John McWhorter, host of the podcast Lexicon Valley.
Thumbnail for "But Why Live: Space Exploration".
In this special live episode we learn about space and space exploration with Jim Green, NASA's Chief Scientist.
Thumbnail for "How Does Slime Work?".
What is slime and how do you make it? What makes glue sticky? Why does mixing diet coke and Mentos make an explosion? How does glow in the dark stuff glow without batteries?
Thumbnail for "But Why Live: Poetry".
In this special live episode we learn about poetry and writing with Poetry Guy Ted Scheu, Rajnii Eddins, and we hear your poems! Get your pencils ready; we’ll be doing some fun writing exercises as w…
Thumbnail for "But Why Live: Bats and Beavers".
In this special live episode, we learn about bats and beavers! First up, all about bats with Barry Genzlinger of Vermont Bat Center.
Thumbnail for "Where Does The Sky End?".
Where is the border between sky and space? That's what 5-year-old Matthias of Durham, New Hampshire wants to know. Allesandra, 3 of Bella Vista, Arkansas wants to know why we can't hold air.
Thumbnail for "Circle Round: The Fallen Sparrow".
We're sharing a new episode from one of our favorite podcasts, Circle Round. Jane Lindholm co-stars with Molly Bloom (Brains On!, Smash Boom Best) as twin sisters who reap what they sow.
Thumbnail for "Why Do Cookies Taste Better With Salt? And Other Cooking Questions".
We head to the kitchen to answer cooking and food questions. Why does food taste better with salt? Why do we need salt to make sweet things like cookies?
Thumbnail for "Why Do Baby Teeth Fall Out?".
We're talking about teeth with a friendly dentist! How do teeth become loose? Why do our baby teeth fall out? Why do people only have two sets of teeth?
Thumbnail for "'Are Llamas Ticklish?' And Other Silly Questions".
We're answering 9 questions that put a smile on our faces, and we hope they make you chuckle, too. Plus, you might actually learn something from some of the answers!
Thumbnail for "Brave Little State: Tips From A Homeschooling, Remote-Working Mom".
We’re sharing an episode of a Vermont Public Radio's Brave Little State.
Thumbnail for "Coronavirus For Kids, And The Science Of Soap".
As COVID-19 spreads across the globe, the World Health Organization has declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic. We’re answering questions about the virus.
Thumbnail for "Why Do People Have Nightmares?".
Why do people dream? Why do people have nightmares? How do dreams happen? Can people who are blind can see in their dreams? We're listening back to our episode about dreams.
Thumbnail for "How Do We Fall Asleep?".
Why do people need to sleep? How do we actually go to sleep? How does sleeping get rid of toxins in the brain?
Thumbnail for "What Happens When A President Is Impeached?".
Curious kids are hearing about the impeachment trial of US President Donald Trump. So But Why is helping them understand what impeachment is and what happens when a president is impeached.
Thumbnail for "Do Animals Get Married?".
Do animals get married? Do they fall in love and have friends? Do they laugh when they're happy and cry when they're sad? When you talk to your pets, can they understand you?
Thumbnail for "Why Do Lions Roar?".
Why do lions roar? Why do crickets chirp? Why do bucks shed their antlers every year? How can porcupines and hedgehogs avoid poking themselves? Do fish pee? What is the fastest fish?
Thumbnail for "How Do We Taste Food?".
Why do we like to eat certain foods? Why do some people like to eat spicy food? And what's up with kids not liking vegetables?
Thumbnail for "Why Are Some Words 'Bad'?".
In this episode, we tackle why some words are "bad". Plus: Why do people say bad words? Why aren't kids allowed to say cuss words? Why is the middle finger bad?
Thumbnail for "Ice, Ice, Baby: Why Is Ice Slippery?".
How does water turn into ice? Why is ice sometimes slippery and other times sticky? Why is it so cold? Why does it float? How are icicles made?
Thumbnail for "How Do Meteorologists Predict The Weather?".
How do weather people predict the weather and know what's going to happen tomorrow? Why is a meteorologist called a meteorologist?
Thumbnail for "Are Unicorns Real?".
Are unicorns real? Who made them up? Where do they come from? What do they eat, how big are they, and do they have rainbow manes?
Thumbnail for "Are Jellyfish Made Of Jelly?".
In this episode we're answering a few short questions about animals! Are jellyfish made of jelly? Do fish stink in the water or on land? Where do fish sleep?
Thumbnail for "Why Do We Have To Go To School?".
Why does school exist? When did kids start going, and why is it mandatory? Why are there 12 grades in school? Why do we call teachers by their last names?
Thumbnail for "How Are Noodles Made?".
This week, we answer a question from 4-year-old Hugo in Burlington, Vt. Hugo wants to know how noodles are made. But he's about to get more than he bargained for!
Thumbnail for "How Is Paper Made?".
How is paper made from trees? Why does paper fall apart when it gets wet? Why does it lose color in the sun? Who invented paper?
Thumbnail for "What Do Mosquitoes Do In Winter?".
This episode is all about bugs! We've gotten a lot of questions from you about insects and other critters.
Thumbnail for "Why Do Earthquakes Happen?".
Why do earthquakes happen? How do the tectonic plates move underground? How do we stay safe during an earthquake? Why are continents so far apart?
Thumbnail for "How Do Circuits Work?".
How do circuits work? How do electric plugs work? Why do some things conduct electricity and some things do not?
Thumbnail for "What Is Electricity?".
Where does electricity come from? What is electricity made of? Who invented it? How does electricity work? What are electrons made of?
Thumbnail for "Why Do Trains Run On Tracks?".
How do trains work? What about electric trains? Steam trains? Bullet trains? Why do they have to go on tracks? How can trains go so fast even though they're so heavy?
Thumbnail for "Why Are Boys Boys And Girls Girls?".
This week we're answering questions about gender. We've gotten a lot of questions about the differences between boys and girls so we're tackling them with Vanderbilt anthropologist Anna Catesby Yant.
Thumbnail for "How Do Mussels Get Their Shells?".
We're heading to the coast of Maine to learn a little bit about why the sea is salty and how mussels get their shells with Zach Whitener, a research associate at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute.
Thumbnail for "Why Am I Afraid Of The Dark?".
Lots of people are afraid of the dark, including many kids who have shared that fear with us. In today's episode we explore the fear of the dark with Daniel Handler, better known as Lemony Snicket.
Thumbnail for "Why Is Sugar Bad For You?".
Why do we need to eat and how does food give us energy? Why do you have to eat vegetables? Why does junk food taste so good? So many questions about food and nutrition. We get answers from Wesley…
Thumbnail for ""Do Skunks Like Their Own Smell?" And Other Stumpers!".
Today, 10 questions with one answer in common: "That's a good question!" We've picked 10 stumpers, like: Why don't we suffocate in cars when we're driving?
Thumbnail for "Who Makes The Laws?".
Who makes the laws? That's what 5-year-old Paxton from Kelowna, British Columbia wants to know!
Thumbnail for "Still Funny: Why Do We Laugh?".
Why do we laugh? Why do you feel ticklish when someone tickles you? Why can't you tickle yourself?
Thumbnail for "How Is But Why Made? What Is Sound?".
In this episode of But Why, we're answering your questions about...us! Why do you make But Why? How are podcasts made? And we're answering questions about the physics of sound and radio.
Thumbnail for "Why Is There A Big Patch Of Garbage In The Pacific Ocean?".
Why is there a big patch of garbage in the Pacific Ocean? Four-year-old Leon has heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and he wants to know what the deal is.
Thumbnail for "Why Do Elephants Have Trunks? Why Do Giraffes Have Purple Tongues?".
We're exploring two different animals in today's episode. One has a long neck and the other has a long trunk!
Thumbnail for "Why Do Days Start At 12 O'Clock?".
How was time created? How did one minute become 60 seconds and one hour became 60 minutes? Why is time segmented into 12-hour periods? How do clocks work? Why is a year 365 days?
Thumbnail for "Why Do We Sometimes See The Moon During The Day?".
Why does the moon change shape? How much does the moon weigh? What color is the moon? Why does the Earth only have one moon? Why does the moon have holes?
Thumbnail for "What Is It Like To Be An Adult?".
What is it like to be an adult? It's a big question from a young mind! We invited adults who listen to share their perspectives and Nora McInerny, host of the podcast Terrible, Thanks for Asking.
Thumbnail for "Why Do We Poop And Fart?".
How does your body make poop? How many germs are in an ounce of poop? Why do people fart and why are farts stinky?
Thumbnail for "Circle Round: 'Armadillo's Song'".
This week, instead of a normal episode, we're bringing you an episode from one of our podcast friends, Circle Round, from WBUR in Boston.
Thumbnail for "Why Don't Spiders Get Stuck In Their Webs?".
Why don't spiders stick to their own webs? How do spiders walk up walls and on ceilings without falling? Why do spiders have eight legs and eight eyes? How do they make webs? And silk?
Thumbnail for "Why Do We Celebrate Halloween?".
Why do we celebrate Halloween? Who created this holiday? Where do pumpkins come from and why do we carve them?
Thumbnail for "Living With A Brain Tumor: 11-Year-Old Twins Share Their Story".
In today's episode we're not answering any questions. Instead, we're going to talk with 11-year-old twins Isabelle and Sophie Posner-Brown. When Sophie was two, she was diagnosed with a malignant…
Thumbnail for "Why Do People Get Cancer?".
A cancer diagnosis can be scary, and for kids it can be bewildering.
Thumbnail for "Kangaroos, Koalas, and Wombats! Why Don’t They Live In Cities?".
We'll learn about the kinds of animals that live in urban environments and the challenges they face!
Thumbnail for "Why Is Fire Orange?".
We visit Fireman's Hall Museum in Philadelphia and get answers to a dozen questions about fire from Philly firefighter Lisa Desamour.
Thumbnail for "Why Do People Like Different Types Of Music?".
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.
Thumbnail for "Why Do Turtles Need Shells? Why Do Frogs Hop?".
Why do turtles need shells? Why do turtles move so slowly? Why do frogs hop? Why are frogs green? Why are colorful frogs poisonous? Why do frogs inflate their throats?
Thumbnail for "How Was The Universe Created?".
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.
Thumbnail for "An Introduction To VPR's Timeline".
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.
Thumbnail for "Why Is Milk White?".
'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?
Thumbnail for "Why Do Ants Bite?".
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.
Thumbnail for "Hoots And Screeches And Whistles, Part 2".
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…
Thumbnail for "Hoots And Screeches And Whistles, Part 1".
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?
Thumbnail for "Why Is Tape Sticky?".
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!!
Thumbnail for "Podcast Extra: Heterotaxy and Hearts".
After hearing our episode about hearts, 3yo Ethan Chandra, from Middlesex, NJ, wanted to share the story of his own heart.