Brains On! A podcast featuring science for kids and curious adults.
Brains On!

Brains On!

From MPR News

A podcast featuring science for kids and curious adults.

Most Recent Episodes

Introducing: Million Bazillion

We're thrilled to share a brand new show with you. It's called Million Bazillion and it's all about money — how we earn it, how we save it and how we spend it. In the first episode you'll travel back thousands of years to learn the ways people got what they needed before money was invented. Back then some people traded goods, others made pacts to share what they had. We'll also meet the king who came up with the idea for coins. Plus, Kristen Bell designs her own money! This show is a collaboration between Brains On and Marketplace. It's hosted by Jed Kim with Bridget Bodnar. You can listen to more episodes here, or subscribe at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Masks and mouth mist: What we know about the coronavirus now

Since the world first learned about this new coronavirus at the end of 2019, we've been watching science happen in real time. Scientists all over the world are studying this virus and learning how to protect us from it. As they learn new things, we learn new things too. One thing they've learned is how this virus spreads. The primary culprit is droplets from our noses and mouths. That's why masking up is so important to protect our communities. We've also been hearing from a lot of listeners wanting to know about the future: when will the vaccine be ready? what will it be like at school? when will things go back to normal? We're going to do our best to answer some of these questions in our next coronavirus episode. But they don't have concrete answers right now. Right now, trying to look a month, or a year into the future is hard. We call this feeling of not knowing what will happen — uncertainty. And it's hard to deal with. Our brains likes being able to predict what's going to happen because it makes us feel safe. When we feel unsafe, that's when anxiety kicks in. One way to deal with this anxiety is to focus on the present — what's happening right now. It's also important to let yourself feel your feelings and know you're not alone in them. It's normal right now to feel frustrated, or angry, or sad, or all of them at the same time. But also try to think about the moments you have that are fun, and the times you feel contentment and happiness. If you're having trouble staying focused on the present there are some tricks you can try: Look around you and make a list in your head of everything you see that is green. Try to think of all the character's names in your favorite book or tv show Take deep breaths — inhale for four counts, hold that breath for four, and then exhale for four Distract yourself by going outside, or watching a movie or reading a book. If you're still having trouble keeping your mind off the "what ifs" it's great to talk to your parents or another adult you trust. There are always people who want to help you. If you need help and aren't sure who to talk to, you can call 800 273-8255. It's a free phone call, and people are there all the time, ready to listen and help. MORE: The Child Mind Institute has a lot of resources for families about how to deal with this uncertain time. (https://childmind.org/coping-during-covid-19-resources-for-parents/) This episode is sponsored by KiwiCo (kiwico.com/brainson) and Native (nativedeo.com/brainson) - use promo code: BRAINSON at checkout.

Masks and mouth mist: What we know about the coronavirus now

The world of tiny robots

We're talking all about teeny, tiny robots in today's episode. You know, the ones that are as light as a postage stamp and as look like insects? They may be small, but these robots can still take in information and make decisions on their own. Find out how bees and cockroaches are teaching us about the future of small robots and what big tasks they might take on. There's also a new Mystery Sound to rattle your ears. Plus a moment of Um that answers the question: Why does the sun stay in one place? This episode was sponsored by KiwiCo (www.kiwico.com/brainson)

Why do kids have more energy than adults?

We're taking on an age-old question today: Do kids have more energy than adults? Breakfast tacos, caffeine, an energized DJ and an epic battle between a girl and her parents. This episode has all that and then some. Discover how we turn food into energy at an awesome taco party. Then pump up the jams with DJ Thyroid. Speaking of music, get ready for a song from Lake Street Dive's Mike Olson. And just when you think the show might be out of energy, we engage in an out-of breath competition between a kid and her parents. Plus, there's a brand new Mystery Sound and a Moment of Um about why we lose our voices sometimes. This episode is sponsored by Laurel Springs Online School (laurelsprings.com/brainson) and KiwiCo (kiwico.com/brainson)

Why does green mean go? And other color conundrums

The world is full of color, but how do our eyes see it? In this episode we'll explain how color vision works, complete with a journey to a jazz club in the back of your eye. We'll also look at the cultural meanings of the color red, we'll find out about a new type of blue, and we'll find out why stoplights use green to mean go. Our Moment of Um tackles the question, "why are bees black and yellow?" This episode is sponsored by KiwiCo (kiwico.com/brainson) and Nurture Life (use code: BRAINS at checkout).

Injustice and Anger: Understanding your emotions

A lot of us are angry right now, with good reason. We're seeing people treated unfairly because of racism — that's when people don't like someone's race or the color of their skin. In this episode we'll talk about how anger can be a useful emotion and can be used to push for change. We'll also revisit parts of our 2019 series on emotions, including an explanation of the hormones behind anger, why some of us are quicker to anger than others and what we can do when we feel overwhelmed by our feelings. Plus, our Moment of Um tackles the question, "What happens when lightning strikes water?" If you want to talk to your kids about race but don't know where to start, we suggest reading this article (https://bit.ly/3eEss5k) by pediatricians Dr. Jacqueline Dougé, & Dr. Ashaunta Anderson or Talking to Kids About Race by Heather Greenwood Davis (https://on.natgeo.com/306a2Xe). There are great books to help your family start a conversation about race. Here's a list from Embrace Race (https://bit.ly/2U1SvLV). Or try Brown Bookshelf's Generations Book Club (https://bit.ly/3gSljA3). This episode is sponsored by Laurel Springs (laurelsprings.com/brainson) and KiwiCo (kiwico.com/brainson). You can support Brains On at brainson.org/donate.

Introducing: Julie's Library

We're very excited to share an episode of a brand new podcast we've been working on called Julie's Library. It's hosted by the legendary, the one and only, Julie Andrews. Every week, she and her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton read from their favorite children's books. The featured book in this episode is Marilyn's Monster by Michelle Knudsen, and illustrated by Matt Phelan. You can listen to more episodes and subscribe at Apple Podcasts (https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/julies-library-story-time-with-julie-andrews/id1507980417), Spotify (https://open.spotify.com/show/7l9G5ddvRI3BqLf2WVCOS7), Google Podcasts (http://tiny.cc/wrhrpz), or wherever you usually listen. Find out more at julieslibraryshow.org

Coronavirus: How to be a helper from home

We're all doing our best to stay safe from coronavirus, but is there anything we can do for others as well? In this episode we look at some ways you can help from home, like by making masks, donating to food banks or writing letters. Two stars of the World Handwashing Federation stop by to explain the science of how water actually dries out our hands. Plus, Kara and Gilly interview science journalist Carl Zimmer on the weird world of viruses, including some viruses that help people! There's a listener-submitted mystery sound and this week's Moment of Um tackles the question: how do seashells get their shape? This episode is sponsored by Betty Crocker bettycrocker.com and Care.com promo code: BRAINS

Thinking ink: The scoop on this colorful stuff!

Ink is amazing. It helps us captures our thoughts, comes in many colors and some of it is even made by animals! In this episode we explore the history of this special substance. We'll also talk squid ink with biologist Sarah McAnulty and explain how tattoos work. Plus, your poems about ink! Obviously there's also a Mystery Sound and a Moment of Um that answers the question: what happens if salt is poured on snails? This episode is sponsored in part by Betty Crocker - bettycrocker.com and Laurel Springs School - laurelsprings.com/brainson

Mystery Sound Extravaganza 2020

You don't have to search far to find amazing Mystery Sounds. If you listen, you can find them in every room of your house. Today's episode is chock full of these audible wonders. They are cotton candy for the ears! They are the notes to make your tympanic membrane sing! It's time for the Mystery Sound Extravaganza! An episode made up of nothing but Mystery Sounds, most of them recorded by our amazing listeners.Plus, today's Moment of Um answers this stumper: when your eyes are closed, are your pupils big or small? Today's episode is sponsored by KiwiCo (kiwico.com/brainson)

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