Cover art for podcast Brains On! Science podcast for kids

Brains On! Science podcast for kids

100 EpisodesProduced by American Public MediaWebsite

Brains On!® is a science podcast for curious kids and adults from American Public Media. Co-hosted each week by kid scientists and reporters from public radio, we ask questions ranging from the science behind sneezing to how to translate the purr of cats, and go wherever the answers take us. @Brains… read more

episodes iconAll Episodes

Aliens and UFOs: Making Sense of Myths, pt. 4

December 31st, 2019


In the final episode of our series about myths and legends, we’re launching our imaginations into outer space!

Monster expert Emily Zarka tells us about her favorite alien and why aliens fascinate so many people. In …

Mermaids, Kraken and the Loch Ness Monster: Making Sense of Myths, pt. 3

December 24th, 2019


What’s lurking in the depths of the ocean? Or your local loch? We’re diving deep into the world of water-dwelling mythical creatures in part three of our series on myths. We’ll talk with monster expert Emily Zarka and …

Lost Cities: Making Sense of Myths, pt. 2

December 17th, 2019


Was Atlantis a real city? If not, why have so many people gone looking for it? In part two of our series on modern myths and legends, we’re searching for lost cities.

We’ll trace the origins of El Dorado, and head to …

Bigfoot, Unicorns and Dragons: Making Sense of Myths, pt. 1

December 10th, 2019


Where do stories of unicorns, mermaids and Bigfoot come from? And do they have any truth to them? In this four-part series, we're tackling listeners' biggest questions about modern myths and legends.

Today's episode …

How do pianos work?

December 3rd, 2019


Behind every piano’s polished exterior are thousands of parts. From keys to strings, they work together to produce a sound.

In this episode, we take …

Flavor facts: Why food is so delicious

November 26th, 2019


You might think flavor is what happens on your tongue – and it is. But it’s also so much more.

Flavor is influenced by all the senses. How food looks, smells and feels can make a difference. Even the sounds you hear …

What was the first life on earth?

November 20th, 2019


What was the first lifeform like? What was the first fish or mammal? Is it even possible to know? In this episode, we look to the fossil record to help us trace our roots back to the Last Universal Common Ancestor. …

Ask-A-Scientist: Bird Bonanza!

November 12th, 2019


In this special episode, we've asked two rock star ornithologists to answer a flock of listener questions about birds. Drew Lanham and Corina Newsome …

Books: How they're made and how your brain reads them

November 5th, 2019


There is so much happening in your brain when you read. From recognizing shapes as letters to discovering empathy, our brains really get a workout when we read books.

In this episode, Ben Bergen from the Language and …

Why do we like getting scared?

October 29th, 2019


Spooky stuff may make you cover your eyes in fright, but many of us find ourselves peeking through our fingers to get another glimpse. Why are we drawn to things that make us jump? In this episode, we'll find out how …

Wonderful Wool: The secrets of this amazing fluff

October 22nd, 2019


Wool is warm, absorbs water and odors, plus it’s flame resistant. In short, wool is amazing!

In this episode we explore how wool is different from …

How does the internet get to us?

October 15th, 2019


In this episode, we find out how a system of cables around the globe (and deep in our oceans) brings websites, songs, videos and podcasts to our phones and computers, almost at the speed of light. The internet can seem …

How do flu vaccines work?

October 8th, 2019


The flu shot changes every year. But why is the flu special, if other illnesses have much longer-lasting vaccines? This episode takes us into the world of viruses and immunity.

A friendly lymphocyte fills us in on how …

Why do we lie?

October 1st, 2019


Most of us think we’re good at detecting lies, but it turns out humans only get it right about half the time. And why do we do it anyway? What makes us want to deceive other people? In this episode we get to the truth …

The secrets of the spectacular spacesuit

August 27th, 2019


Never explore the final frontier without your trusty, white, puffy space suit! But why is it puffy and white? And why do astronauts need them? Turns out space is super dangerous and these suits can save your life.

What is dyslexia? And how do our brains read?

August 20th, 2019


Have you heard the word dyslexia before? It's a term used to describe when people have a hard time learning to read. It's actually very common because reading is a fairly new skill that humans have developed.

In this …

How do elevators work?

August 13th, 2019


Elevators are like magic. You walk in, the door shuts and when it opens again, you are suddenly someplace new! Ta da! But it’s not magic that does this trick, it’s science and engineering.

In this episode we explain how …

Hey, where did you get those genes?!?

August 6th, 2019


Today we’re talking genes - the recipe for you! We’ll go microscopic and check out how traits like hair color are passed down through your family. …

Plastic: Why it's everywhere

July 30th, 2019


Human-made plastics are super useful -- they're lightweight, can be molded into anything, and they don’t break down. And because plastic is so …

Ants: Who's in charge here?

July 23rd, 2019


We have a lot to learn from ants. This episode digs into the hierarchy of ant colonies (spoiler alert: there is none) and why they walk in a straight …

Tree, Myself and I: All about our leafy green friends

July 16th, 2019


Trees are the strong, silent type but that doesn’t mean they can’t communicate. In this episode we’ll explore how trees send each other messages above ground and below. Plus we’ll learn how a seed goes from a tiny …

Do insects see the world in slow motion? Looking through animal eyes

July 9th, 2019


Do insects see the world in slow motion? Do animals see the same rainbow we do? How do eagles see so far away? Our listeners have a lot of questions about the way animals see the world, and this episode tackles lots of …

Going underground at Wind Cave National Park

July 2nd, 2019


What wonders are hiding underground? Producer Marc Sanchez finds out what it’s like to explore one of the biggest networks of caves in the world — and scientists are still discovering unmapped branches. Marc will show …

Nervous: All about feelings, pt. 4

June 25th, 2019


(This is the final installment in our series about feelings. Check out the first three if you haven't yet.) You know that feeling when you have butterflies in your stomach? Or maybe you get sweaty and hot? Or maybe you …

Angry: All about feelings, pt. 3

June 18th, 2019


This is the third of our four-part series on feelings. Today we're learning why we all get angry and what to do with that emotion. We'll get in touch with our inner Super You Person and learn what physical reactions …

Sad: All about feelings, pt. 2

June 11th, 2019


This is the second episode in our four-part series on feelings! In this episode, we're covering the small and big parts of sadness.

Because this episode touches on some heavy pieces of sadness -- we recommend kids …

Happy: All about feelings, pt. 1

June 4th, 2019


Where do feelings come from? And why do we have them? In this four-part series, we're digging deep into our emotions.

In this first episode, we're getting happy! We'll get a play-by-play of the chemicals in our brain …

Thinkin stinkin: Why we smell

April 30th, 2019


You may have noticed some strong smells coming from your feet, your friend's breath, or your brother's armpit. Where do these body odors come from? We'll meet the microscopic organisms responsible and visit the kingdom …

Forever echo: Can a sound wave go on forever?

April 23rd, 2019


Today we shout out our love for the ECHO! (echo echo) Discover how these curious callbacks happen and why we hear them in some places but not others. We'll also play you the longest echo in the world and take you to an …

The hows and whys of hair

April 16th, 2019


The hair on our heads is on our minds. We have fun with follicles and learn about how they make hair. Our experts help us decipher what makes hair …

Why are smartphones so hard to put down?

April 9th, 2019


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 …

Mystery Sound Extravaganza 2019

April 2nd, 2019


This episode is an ear-tickler! Guess your way through eleven mystery sounds — one from a scientist, and ten from listeners like you! Plus, another mystery: what’s making Marc and Sanden dance to the sounds of a door …

Carnivores: Plants and animals that bite back

March 26th, 2019


Most plants get the energy and nutrients they need from water, sunlight, air and soil. But carnivorous plants get key nutrients from a different source: bugs. We’ll find out how they do it and talk about the mystery of …

Flush! Where does our poo and pee go?

March 20th, 2019


Every time you flush, your poo and pee start an epic journey. From the toilet, to the sewers, to a treatment plant, our waste travels quite a distance only to end up cleaner by the end. We'll hear from a "PooTube" star …

Black Holes, Wormholes and Donut Holes

March 12th, 2019


Black holes happen when you have a super huge, mega-giant amount of stuff --- crammed into a super-tiny, infinitely-small amount of space. AND THEY …

Walking on walls: How ants and spiders do it

March 5th, 2019


Ants and spiders are able to defy gravity -- but how do they do it? We'll learn about how awesome their feet are and how one predator takes advantage of these powers. Plus: A very challenging mystery sound and a Moment …

My air came from where?! How oxygen gets around

February 26th, 2019


Oxygen is quite the savvy traveler. We explore how this gas travels all around the world and ends up pretty much everywhere for us to breathe. Plus we'll look at how plants and others make the stuff. And we learn how …

How do airplanes fly?

February 19th, 2019


How do planes stay in the air? And how did humans figure out that it wasn’t enough to just strap wings to our arms and flap them like birds?

We’ll find out about the invention of airplanes and our co-hosts will share …

Memory and deja vu

February 12th, 2019


In this episode, we take a trip down memory lane. We visit a campus full of hippos to learn how memories are stored, and drop in on a badger trainer …

Are we still evolving?

February 5th, 2019


In this episode, we climb up, down and all around our evolutionary family tree. When did we branch off from our more ape-like ancestors? And will we …

Brains On: Behind the scenes

January 30th, 2019


This is a special fundraising episode, where we peek behind the curtain of Brains On!

Earthrise: The picture of our planet that changed the world

December 25th, 2018


50 years ago NASA astronauts took a picture that changed the world. It was a full color photo of planet Earth as seen from space. This image inspired …

Soil: Can you dig it?

December 18th, 2018


We’re ready to get our hands dirty as we explore the stuff beneath our feet. Clay, sand, mud — soil is everywhere. And it’s alive! We’ll find out how it helps plants grow and learn about all the little organisms that …

Dreams: The science of a sleeping brain

December 11th, 2018


You dream every night, even if you don't remember them. But why? We'll hop on a wild ride to go inside the brain and see which parts help create these often fantastical images and storylines. We'll also learn how to …

Voices: How do we make sound?

December 4th, 2018


We are very vocal about this episode, and that’s because it’s all about voices. We look into how our bodies produce sound and talk to a voice recognition expert. And we find out what’s happening when helium enters the …

Roller coasters: from dream to extreme

November 27th, 2018


How do roller coaster designers go from dream to reality? World-renowned roller coaster designer Alan Schilke tells us how he does it. Also — why do …

Finding your way without a map

November 20th, 2018


If your GPS suddenly stopped working, would you still be able to find your way?

In this episode we'll teach you tricks and tips to navigate on your …

Video Games: A Tale of Two Pongs

November 13th, 2018


Introducing our brand new history show, Forever Ago! Join host Joy Dolo and kid co-host Kai on an epic quest through history to figure out how video …

Do dogs know they're dogs?

November 6th, 2018


We treat dogs like they're part of the family. But do they know they are a different species, or do they think they're just short, four-legged people?

In this episode, canine cognition researcher Alexandra Horowitz …

Body Bonanza: Yawns, hiccups, goosebumps and more!

October 30th, 2018


Brains On listeners have LOTS of questions about the human body so we’ve decided to answer nine – count em NINE – of these questions in one go. The terrific topics tackled: Hiccups, yawns, getting dizzy, goosebumps, …

How to find the facts (Prove It: Part 4)

October 23rd, 2018


Today information is everywhere, but what should you trust? Can you spot the difference between well researched articles and stories full of opinion, …

The scoop on journalism (Prove It: Part 3)

October 16th, 2018


Fair and fact-based news helps people make good decisions. That's why journalists work hard to get their facts straight. In the third installment of our series "Prove It: How to find the facts," we'll hear how one …

Science under the microscope (Prove It: Part 2)

October 9th, 2018


Science is a powerful fact-finding tool -- but how does it work? In this second installment in our series "Prove It: How to find the facts," we look …

A Brief History of Facts (Prove It: Part 1)

October 2nd, 2018


We’d be nothing without facts. They ground us in reality, help us make new discoveries and allowed us to build the modern world. In this episode we …

Brains On! + The Story Pirates: What makes fun things fun?

August 28th, 2018


We're teaming up with our pals The Story Pirates to learn about the science of having fun! Our experts tell us what makes something fun and why we're so geared toward seeking a good time. Plus, the Story Pirates share …

What makes gross things gross?

August 21st, 2018


Fair warning: Today we’re gonna get gross! We’re talking sounds, smells, and tastes that some people might find repulsive. But we're asking: why? …

Keeping water healthy, one clue at a time

August 14th, 2018


Last week, we heard about the tale of the Cuyahoga River -- a river in Ohio that caught on fire multiple times because it was so polluted. The river …

Burning rivers of fire

August 7th, 2018


Rivers are known for being wet. So how did a river in Ohio suddenly catch fire, not once, but several times last century? In part three of our water series, we'll explore the shocking tale of the Cuyahoga River. We'll …

How does GPS know where you are?

July 31st, 2018


Without GPS, we’d be lost. Literally. Thanks to these radio transmissions from space though, we’re able to pinpoint our location and find our way home. Join us as we learn all about satellites, how the robot voice of …

Salty snack science: Popcorn, nachos and the origins of salt

July 24th, 2018


We're having a snack attack in this episode and we're using it as an excuse to delve into the facts and history of some of our favorite snacks. How does popcorn pop? Who invented nachos? And where does salt come from? …

Wanna see Mars' close approach? Just look up!

July 17th, 2018


The Red Planet is putting on a show this July. It'll be closer to Earth than it’s been in 15 years and that means at night it'll appear bigger and …

Smash Boom Best: Books vs Movies

July 10th, 2018


Today, we’re sharing another epic showdown from our brand new debate show, Smash Boom Best. Each episode, we pit our favorite things against each other, like bats versus owls! Or pizza versus tacos! And we ask you to …

How to cook for an alien

July 3rd, 2018


The aliens are coming to dinner! In this episode we wonder what food aliens might eat and talk to real scientists who've thought long and hard about this question. Plus, our friends at America's Test Kitchen show us how …

Mix: The science cooking, pt. 4

June 26th, 2018


Are you ready to mix it up? In this episode, we find out why oil and vinegar are like bickering siblings in the back seat of a car, what delicious food inspired the invention of the blender, and the most effective …

Chop: The science of cooking, pt. 3

June 19th, 2018


Our knives are drawn and ready to mince and dice our way through the science of chopping. In this episode we'll find out what happens to that carrot …

Chill: The science of cooking, pt. 2

June 12th, 2018


From ice cubes to ice cream, cold things are a crucial part of cuisine. How do we use chill to our advantage? This is part two of our series on the …

Heat: The science of cooking pt. 1

June 6th, 2018


We’ve teamed up with America’s Test Kitchen Kids to delve into the scrumptious science of cooking. You’ve sent in so many great cooking questions that we had to spread the answers over four episodes. This is our first …

Boogers and sun sneezes: Know your nose

May 29th, 2018


In this encore mash-up episode, we revisit some fascinating facts that will help you get to know your nose. Why does the sun make some people sneeze? And where do boogers come from anyway? Plus: A brand new moment of um …

The wonderful weirdness of water

May 22nd, 2018


One of the weirdest substances in the universe is right under your nose. No, not boogers. Water! Water seems ordinary, almost boring, but take a …

Smash Boom Best: Bats vs. Owls (new show alert!)

May 15th, 2018


For the past few months, we’ve been working on a top secret project and we’re so excited we finally get to share it with you! It’s a new show called Smash Boom Best and it’s nothing but debates. Sort of like the ones …

Robots take over (the show)! Live from Robotstravaganza

May 8th, 2018


What was the first robot? What is artificial intelligence? How do robots "learn?" In this special episode, we have pieces from our live Robotstravaganza show in Boston. We meet some awesome robots (including one that's …

What's in your water?

May 1st, 2018


What’s in your water, and how did it get there? Clean water is a must, but modern living can put a lot of bad stuff in it. Road salt, fertilizer, dog doo-doo, heavy metals - how do these things get in our water? Why …

What makes paint stick?

April 24th, 2018


Paint goes on wet, then it dries — and it’s stuck there. But how does it stick? We’re going to zoom way in to find out. We’ll visit a forensic chemist, a painter who makes his own paint and a party happening at the …

Allergy Attack: How our bodies can overreact

April 9th, 2018


Pollen, peanuts, dust mites. These things aren't poisonous - so why do some people's bodies act like they are? In this episode, we'll find out what …

Mystery Sound Extravaganza 2018

April 3rd, 2018


Sounds abound all around. Do you think your ears are up to the task? We have an episode chock full of nothing but mystery sounds to challenge and …

How do animals breathe underwater?

March 26th, 2018


Our lungs are great at getting oxygen out of the air, but if we needed to do that underwater, we'd be sunk. So how do fish, shrimp, jellyfish and other marine animals breathe underwater? And what happens when there is …

'The Rice Cakes and the Oni': A story from Circle Round

March 20th, 2018


Sometimes we're in the mood for a good story, so we're turning our show over to Circle Round this week. It's a podcast produced by WBUR in Boston …

Circadian rhythm pt. 2: Beyond human

March 13th, 2018


Circadian rhythms keep our bodies on schedule. But what about the rest of the animal and plant world? Turns out, most living things run on similar …

From 8-bit to orchestras: How does video game music affect you?

March 5th, 2018


If you’ve ever played a video game, you know how important music can be when it comes to gaming. But what if you choose to play without music? How …

The tick-tock of our circadian clock

February 27th, 2018


The near 24-hour-cycle that keeps us on track is conducted by the suprachiasmatic nucleus. It’s a tiny part of our brains, but it’s super, super important.

‘Is it opposite day?’ and other mind-bending paradoxes

February 20th, 2018


Think about it: the answer to the question “Is it opposite day?” will always be no. So how do you figure out if it is, in fact, opposite day?

Our 100th episode! What's the big deal?

February 13th, 2018


In this milestone of an episode, we ask why people seem to love the number 100 so much. We also learn some amazing tricks involving the number 100 …

Meet Sandy, the left-handed mutant snail

February 6th, 2018


For humans, being left-handed or right-handed can definitely affect the way we experience life. Usually, that mismatch is just a minor nuisance — but sometimes, sidedness can change the future of an entire species, as …

Dolphins vs. Octopuses: Showdown in the sea!

January 30th, 2018


Two of our planet’s most amazing animals go head to head in our latest debate.

We’re asking you to decide which animal reigns supreme. Is it the eight-armed, three hearted, shape-shifting octopus? Or the speed-swimming, …

Dogs: What's the secret of their sense of smell?

January 23rd, 2018


If you’ve ever seen a dog, you know they like to sniff — the ground, people, each other’s butts. They like to smell just about everything. But why? We’re digging into the science of smell and how dogs are able to decode …

Mary Shelley and the science of Frankenstein

January 16th, 2018


As we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the novel’s publication, we look at how Mary Shelley was inspired by science and how the lessons of the book still resonate with the scientific world today.

Super-size-asaurus: How did dinosaurs get so big?

January 9th, 2018


  Ancient dinosaurs were some of the biggest creatures to ever stomp the Earth. But how and why did they get so giant? Was there more food to help them grow? Was the planet itself somehow different, allowing them to …

Mysteries of the universe: Expansion and gravity

January 2nd, 2018


In this episode we ponder some big questions from Brains On listeners about the vastness of space.

The nerve! Electricity in our bodies

December 26th, 2017


Your body is making and using electricity all the time — but how do we do it? We’ll take a look at how bioelectricity helps our brain sends signals and our hearts pump blood. And we’ll learn about some amazing animals …

Charged up! The science of batteries

December 19th, 2017


Batteries are everywhere — they’re in our phones, our computers, our cars, our toys. But how do they work? To find out, we talk to a scientist who’s making really big batteries to store renewable energy, another who’s …

High voltage! How electric power reaches your outlet

December 12th, 2017


We use electricity all the time, but where exactly does it come from? How does it get to our homes? It’s a fascinating journey that can start hundreds of miles from your outlet.

Shocking! The science of static (Electricity series pt. 1)

December 5th, 2017


What makes your hair stand on end? Why does your skirt stick your tights? Why do you get zapped by electric shocks when you go to touch a doorknob?

Where did language come from?

November 27th, 2017


Where did language come from? Is it possible to know without traveling back in time? And how do babies learn to speak? Plus: We’ll hear how the word …

Smash: When continents collide!

November 21st, 2017


How are mountains made? What causes an earthquake? How does hot lava come bubbling up? The answer in each case is…tectonic plates!

Curio: Flies on the bus

November 14th, 2017


A few weeks ago, we got two emails that were so similar and so intriguing we had no choice but to investigate.

What's smaller than an electron?

November 7th, 2017


The natural world can be broken down into atoms. And those atoms can be broken down even further. Will the discovery of smaller and smaller particles ever stop?

Healing skin and regrowing limbs: The science of regeneration

October 30th, 2017


What superpowers does our skin have to repair itself? And what about other animals like salamanders that can do some pretty extreme healing? We’re going under the skin for this one.

What is Down syndrome?

October 24th, 2017


You may have heard of Down syndrome, but what is it exactly? In this episode, we'll break down the science of chromosomes and how having an extra one leads to this fairly common condition. Plus, we'll learn some tips …

Bonus: Kidcast sampler

October 22nd, 2017


Looking for more awesome podcasts to listen to? We're bringing you a special bonus episode today to let you know about some of the other podcasts that you might want to check out. And if you want to find lots of other …

Curio: Vampire of the Great Lakes

October 17th, 2017


The sea lamprey, with its concentric rows of sharp teeth, is part vampire and part alien invader. Would you let it suction to your arm? Reporter Dan …

Loading ...

Are you the creator of this podcast?

Verify your account

and pick the featured episodes for your show.

Listen to Brains On! Science podcast for kids


A free podcast app for iPhone and Android

  • User-created playlists and collections
  • Download episodes while on WiFi to listen without using mobile data
  • Stream podcast episodes without waiting for a download
  • Queue episodes to create a personal continuous playlist
RadioPublic on iOS and Android
Or by RSS
RSS feed

Connect with listeners

Podcasters use the RadioPublic listener relationship platform to build lasting connections with fans

Yes, let's begin connecting
Browser window

Find new listeners

  • A dedicated website for your podcast
  • Web embed players designed to convert visitors to listeners in the RadioPublic apps for iPhone and Android
Clicking mouse cursor

Understand your audience

  • Capture listener activity with affinity scores
  • Measure your promotional campaigns and integrate with Google and Facebook analytics
Graph of increasing value

Engage your fanbase

  • Deliver timely Calls To Action, including email acquistion for your mailing list
  • Share exactly the right moment in an episode via text, email, and social media
Icon of cellphone with money

Make money

  • Tip and transfer funds directly to podcastsers
  • Earn money for qualified plays in the RadioPublic apps with Paid Listens