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

A super special shot: All about coronavirus vaccines

In December, people started getting vaccinated against COVID-19. This is a huge scientific accomplishment and important step in making it safe for us to hang out in person again. So how did scientists develop these vaccines so fast? And how did they test the vaccines to make sure they're safe? And how do these mRNA vaccines work? We have answers to all your questions, plus New York Times science journalist Apoorva Mandavilli explains what scientists have found out about how long immunity lasts to this new coronavirus. And Kara and Gilly are back with a cow-side chat about herd immunity. Plus: A new mystery sound and a Moment of Um that answers the question, "What would happen if the moon fell down onto earth?" Today's episode is sponsored by Sitka Salmon Shares (http://sitkasalmonshares.com/brainson)

Meet Gitanjali Rao, Time Magazine's first-ever Kid of the Year

Today we have a special episode featuring an old friend of ours — scientist and inventor Gitanjali Rao. Time Magazine recently named her the first-ever Kid of the Year! We first met Gitanjali back in 2018, when she was the co-host for a series of episodes we did all about water. Back then, she was a 12 year old who had recently won 2017 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. Now, she's a very busy 15 year-old who is an inventor, STEM advocate and author. Molly and Gitanjali chat about how kids can turn their ideas into reality, and why kids shouldn't be afraid to share their viewpoints and skills with the world — we need them! Gitanjali has also written a book, which you can check out here. Also, you can hear Gitanjali judge a very science-y Smash Boom Debate: Helium vs Neon! Check out the water series that Gitanjali co-hosted: What's in your water? The wonderful weirdness of water Keeping water healthy, one clue at a time Burning rivers of fire

How do synthesizers work?

Synthesizers are a very recent invention, especially when you compare them to acoustic instruments, like pianos and guitars. In this episode, we learn how these machines with keys, knobs, switches, buttons and sliders actually make sound. We'll also travel back to the 1960's and hear how synth pioneers like Bob Moog helped bring these sound making devices into the mainstream. Plus, we'll check in with Suzanne Ciani, who has been using her synthesizer to create iconic sounds for movies, television and video games for over 50 years! All that plus a striking Mystery Sound and Moment of Um that answers the question: Do airplanes have a speed limit? Today's episode is sponsored by Sun Basket (sunbasket.com/brainson promo code: brainson)

Why is it so hard to break a habit?

If habits are really stuck, we don't think much about them — we just do them! Some habits are good (like brushing your teeth in the morning) and others are not as good (like biting your nails). Today we find out what parts of our brains help us form habits and why it's actually super useful to not have to think so hard about everything. Gungador tries to break a bad habit, and we find out the best tips for ditching habits we want to leave behind. Plus: A brand new mystery sound and a Moment of Um that answers the question: "How do 3D glasses work? If you want to join the Brains On fan club and get a mailing of awesome temporary tattoos, have an adult sign up or update your mailing address at brainson.org/fanclub Today's episode is sponsored by KiwiCo (kiwico.com and promo code BRAINSON) and Purple (purple.com/brainson10 and promo code BRAINSON10).

Smash Boom Best: Flowers vs Rainbows

We'll be back with new episodes in January. But we wanted to share another show with you that we've been working on: Smash Boom Best! It's a debate show where we take two cool things, smash them together and let you decide which one is best. Today we're sharing with you an excerpt from a debate featuring our very own Sanden Totten: Flowers vs Rainbows Sanden is repping team flowers and our good friend Joy Dolo, host of Forever Ago, is arguing for team rainbows. To hear the rest of the debate, find Smash Boom Best wherever you listen to podcasts. There are over 30 debates ready for your binge listening this holiday season! Play along at home by yourself — or with your family! You can find score sheets and other fun stuff at smashboom.org

Bones from the inside out

Bones! They're spooky. They're creepy. They're utterly fascinating! This episode we dig up the science behind skeletons. We'll look at how our bones grow, what happens when we break a bone and why bones last so long. Plus, we'll meet a talking skeleton who will help us bone up on bone trivia! And we have a mystery sound to tickle your auditory ossicles and a Moment of Um that answers the question: Why does time fly when you're having fun? We're taking a break after this episode and will be back with new episodes on Jan. 5th. Until then, we'd love for you to go check out our sister show Smash Boom Best (smashboom.org). We're also going to be doing a live virtual hangout in November where you can ask Molly, Marc, Sanden and Menaka all your questions. Anything you want to ask, we'll answer! If you want to join us, the first step is to sign up for our totally free fan club (brainson.org/fans). In November we'll send an email out to the fan club with more details about this free, virtual hang out. So keep an eye out for that! This episode is sponsored by KiwiCo (kiwico.com/brainson), Ancestry (ancestry.com/brainson), Purple (purple.com/brainson10), Guardian Bikes (guardianbikes.com/brains), and Pillsbury Grands Cinnamon Rolls (pillsbury.com/products/cinnamon-rolls). You can support the show and help us keep making new episodes at brainson.org/donate

Why do siblings annoy each other?

Having a sibling is a special thing — but, wow, can they be annoying! In this episode we'll look at why our brothers and sisters are so good at pushing our buttons. Plus, is there any truth to the idea that oldest kids are the most mature and the youngest ones are the most charming? We'll look at the science of personality and birth order. We also visit a sibling drive-thru, get quizzed about animal relationships and answer this question in our Moment of Um: why does rain come in small droplets? This episode is sponsored by: KiwiCo (https://kiwico.com/brainson) Ancestry (https://ancestry.com/brainson) White Hat Jr. (https://www.whitehatjr.com/) General Mills Pillsbury (https://www.pillsbury.com/products/cinnamon-rolls) If you want to find out more about how to stop bullying, please go to Stop Bullying Speak Up: http://includesomeone.com/

Past, present and future: Using time to understand this pandemic

If time feels weird to you lately, you're not alone. The pandemic has changed the pace of life for people around the world. We'll talk to a psychologist about how our sense of time works. We'll look back into the past to see how a similar pandemic played out 100 years ago. Plus, we'll ask experts to tell us what they think life will be like six months from now. Oh yeah, and virus podcasters Kara and Gilly are back to tell you how you can be a part of history! Warning: Boogers are involved. Our Moment of Um answers the question: why do your arms move when you walk? This episode is sponsored by: Stop Bullying Speak Up (http://includesomeone.com) KiwiCo (https://kiwico.com/brainson) Laurel Springs Online School (https://laurelsprings.com/brainson) AncestryHealth (https://ancestryhealth.com/brainson) Daily Harvest (https://dailyharvest.com) General Mills Pillsbury (https://www.pillsbury.com/products/cinnamon-rolls)

Behind the scenes: See how we make the show

A listener asked how making Brains On is different during the pandemic. So with this episode we're giving you a peek into how we're making the show while staying safe. Spoiler alert: we're doing it all from our homes! What's the best way to record crystal clear sound at home? (Hint: Lots of soft surfaces!) How do we make sound effects? How do we get all the animals, humans and machines in our homes to keep it down while we tape? Plus: We asked our co-hosts to share what it was like for them to record and episode from home. All that, plus a brand new mystery sound and a Moment of Um that answers the question: how do rocks form? This episode is sponsored by: Purple.com (https://purple.com/brainson10 Promo code: brainson10) Daily Harvest (https://dailyharvest.com Promo code: brainson) PayPal - you can download the PayPal app at https://paypal.com

The buzz on bees, pt. 2

In this second episode on bees (a bee-quel, you might say!) we're taking a look at pollination: the many pollination talents of different bees, why pollination is so important, and what you can do to help wild bees! The tables are turned in the Mystery Sound department: our beekeeping cohosts have a sound for Menaka and Sanden to guess! And the Moment of Um answers an age-old stumper: how are alligators and crocodiles different? Want to hear more about bees? Listen to The buzz about bees, pt. 1 (https://www.brainson.org/episode/2020/09/08/the-buzz-on-bees-pt-1) This episode is sponsored by: Ancestory.com (http://ancestry.com/brainson), General Mills Pillsbury (https://www.pillsbury.com/products/cinnamon-rolls) and Varsity Tutors (http://varsitytutors.com/brainson)

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