Brains On!

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.

Dreams: The science of a sleeping brain (12/2018)

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 take control of our dreams and how they make us more creative. Plus: a new mystery sound and a Moment of Um answers the question "How do octopuses make ink?" This episode is sponsored by Thoughtfully (thoughtfully.com/brains), Pre (eatpre.com offer code BRAINSON), and Little Passports (littlepassports.com/brains).

Voices: How do we make sound? (12/2018)

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 equation. Plus, humans don’t have the voice market cornered -- what about other animals? We’ll drop in on a few creatures and find out how they make sounds too. All that plus a brand new Mystery Sound and berry delicious Moment of Um. Today’s episode is sponsored by Quip (getquip.com/brainson), KiwiCo (kiwico.com/brainson), and Bombas (bombas.com/brains). You can support Brains On at brainson.org/donate

Roller coasters: from dream to extreme (11/2018)

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 some people feel sick or dizzy after riding them? And how do coasters make you feel like you’re floating? Plus: a tricky mystery sound and a Moment of Um that answers the question, “How do boomerangs come back?” This episode is sponsored by Quip (getquip.com/brainson), Thoughtfully (thoughtfully.com/brains) and Little Passports (LittlePassports.com/brains).

Finding your way without a map (11/2018)

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 own. We'll explain how compasses work and we'll tell you who helped move north to the top of the map. Plus, we'll meet a navigator who goes on long journeys using only traditional Hawaiian navigational techniques and we'll stop by a pitstop for some amazing animal migrators. All that and a Moment of Um on why diamonds are so rare and so valuable. Today’s episode is sponsored by KiwiCo (kiwico.com/brainson), Little Passports (littlepassports.com/brains), Bombas (bombas.com/brains), and Ozobot (ozobot.com/shop).

Video Games: A Tale of Two Pongs (11/2018)

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 games began. With help from intrepid reporter Cari Spivack, they’ll visit the age of dinosaur computers, hear the sounds of early arcades and befriend some talking cows. This episode is sponsored by Little Passports (LittlePassports.com/BRAINS), Thoughtfully (thoughtfully.com/BRAINS) and Quip (GetQuip.com/brainson). You can support Brains On and Forever Ago at brainson.org/donate.

Do dogs know they're dogs? (11/2018)

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 helps us puzzle out this question. We’ll also find out what happens (or doesn’t) when a dog looks in the mirror. Dogs are always dozing, and we’ll check in to see if they are dreaming too. And, we take a quick trip around the world in the language of barks. All that, plus a brand new Mystery Sound and moon-filled Moment of Um! Today’s episode is sponsored by Ozobot (ozobot.com/brains), KiwiCo (kiwico.com/brainson), and the book Horse Meets Dog. You can support Brains On with a contribution at brainson.org/donate

Body Bonanza: Yawns, hiccups, goosebumps and more! (10/2018)

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, fingerprints, limbs falling asleep, brain freeze, chattering teeth and why your voice sounds different when it’s recorded. Plus: Our Moment of Um answers the question: “Why do we have two lungs?” Today’s episode is sponsored by Quip (getquip.com/brainson) and Build-A-Bear Workshop (buildabear.com). You can support Brains On at brainson.org/donate

How to find the facts (Prove It: Part 4) (10/2018)

Today information is everywhere, but what should you trust? Can you spot the difference between well researched articles and stories full of opinion, errors or even lies? In our final chapter of “Prove It: How to find the facts,” we’ll find out how to think like a fact checker. Plus we’ll share clues on how to spot warning signs of bogus information. We also look into the claim that coffee stunts your growth and for our Moment of Um we explore the world of freckles. Today’s episode is sponsored by Build-A-Bear Workshop (buildabear.com), Vamousse (VamousseLice.com), Bombas (bombas.com/brains) and Ozobot (ozobot.com/brains). You can support Brains On at brainson.org/donate

The scoop on journalism (Prove It: Part 3) (10/2018)

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 daring reporter got herself locked in a mental hospital to uncover injustice. We'll meet an 11-year old publishing her own paper and Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold tell us how he makes sure his stories are accurate. And we'll find out if the claim that fish have no memory holds water. All that plus a fresh new Mystery Sound and a Moment of Um tackling the question: why do humans have a tailbone but no tail? Today’s episode is sponsored by Build-A-Bear Workshop (buildabear.com), Vamousse (VamousseLice.com) and Quip (getquip.com/brainson). You can support Brains On at brainson.org/donate

Science under the microscope (Prove It: Part 2) (10/2018)

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 to the past for answers. We find out how a snake heart helped get rid of an old idea about blood and how failed experiments are just as important as successful ones (bye bye, luminiferous ether). And we'll hear from scientists working today about how curiosity is at the heart of science. All this plus a new Mystery Sound and snail-rific Moment of Um. Today’s episode is sponsored by Build-a-Bear Workshop (buildabear.com), Ozobot (ozobot.com/brains) and Bombas (bombas.com/brains) and you can support Brains On at brainson.org/donate.