Melody Bodette

Producer, 'But Why' podcast

Melody is a Producer for But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids.

She was formerly VPR's deputy news director, Morning Edition producer and a reporter covering Addison and Franklin counties. She began at VPR as a part-time production assistant and was promoted to full-time in 2007. She has also served as a news and editorial assistant for The Burlington Free Press.

Ways to Connect

Greenpeace U.S. actions director, Katie Flynn-Jambeck, holds up plastic recovered from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Tabor Wordelman

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. So we speak with someone who's actually been there! Teen Vogue News and Politics Editor Alli Maloney visited the garbage patch last year for a series called Plastic Planet. But in this episode we'll also explore how young people are becoming activists, trying to reduce the amount of plastic waste produced, waste that sometimes goes into the ocean. Anika Ballent, with the non-profit Algalita, shares what kids can and have been doing.

1001slide / istock

We're exploring two different animals in today's episode. One has a long neck and the other has a long trunk!

A sundial
ArisSu / iStock

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? Why is there an extra day in February every four years? Does time have a beginning or an end? Is time travel possible? Answers to all of your time questions with Andrew Novick of NIST, the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

An image of the moon.
NASA

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? Where does the moon go when we can't see it? Why do we sometimes see the moon in the daytime? 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.

elenabs / istock

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, helps guide us through that and a few other questions about the strange world of adults: Why can adults do things that kids can't do? Why don't adults play pretend like they used to when they were kids?  What happens when you don't listen to your boss? And why do people cry when they're happy?

PALMIHELP

How does your body make poop? How many germs are in an ounce of poop? Why do people fart and why are farts stinky? Look, everybody does it, so today we're going to tackle one of the areas kids seem to find fascinating: why and how we poop! Plus, we get some help from Chicago public radio station WBEZ's Curious City to learn about what happens after you flush the toilet.

Sabina Hahn / Circle Round

This week, instead of an episode of But Why, we're bringing you an episode from one of our podcast friends, Circle Round, from WBUR in Boston. Circle Round features folk tales from around the world, and we've selected one we think you'll really enjoy. French comedian Gad Elmaleh stars in "Armadillo's Song," a story about achieving goals and proving naysayers wrong!

Sean McCann / www.ibycter.com

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? What's a cobweb? How do spiders eat? And why are daddy long legs called daddy long legs when they have to have a female to produce their babies?! We're talking spiders today with arachnologist Catherine Scott.

cmannphoto / istock

Why do we celebrate Halloween? Who created this holiday? Where do pumpkins come from and why do we carve them? This week we're answering your Halloween questions with a professor of all kinds of scary and creepy things, Regina Hansen of Boston University.

Sophie Posner-Brown (left) was diagnosed with a brain tumor when she was 2 years old. She and her twin sister Isabelle talk about life with a serious illness.
courtesy

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 brain tumor. She's had three surgeries and lots of chemotherapy, but she's been on a break from chemo for the last four years. The twins talked with But Why about what it's like to live with Sophie's illness.

Our bodies are made up of cells. Cancer happens when cells divide out of control.
JackBlack3D / istock

A cancer diagnosis can be scary, and for kids it can be bewildering. We've gotten some questions about cancer and in this episode we answer them with Dr. Donald Small, director of pediatric oncology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. We answer how people get sick when it's not caused by germs, how people get cancer, and why cancer "does not have a cure." There's nothing graphic or scary in this episode, but adults may want to give this episode a listen if cancer is something your littles have been dealing with.

istock / tang90246

We'll learn about the kinds of animals that live in urban environments and the challenges they face! One young Australian listener wants to know why wombats, kangaroos and koalas hang out in the countryside rather than the city. Dr. Mark Eldridge from the Australian Museum Research Institute tackles that one. And we turn our focus to one particular urban dweller, the raccoon, with York University raccoon expert Suzanne MacDonald. She lives in Toronto, which has one of the most dense populations of raccoons in the world. She helps answer why raccoons eat garbage, how long they live and why they look like they're wearing masks.

Philadelphia firefighter Lisa Desamour says a healthy curiosity about fire is a good thing, and kids should feel comfortable asking questions. But they also need to know basic fire safety.
Jane Lindholm / VPR

We visit Fireman's Hall Museum in Philadelphia and get answers to a dozen questions about fire from Philly firefighter Lisa Desamour. She tells us what fire is, why matches work to start fires, and why fire is often orange. Plus: how does water put out fire? How do smoke alarms work? Why do firefighters have Dalmations? 

Many different musical instruments
Katsiaryna Pleshakova / iSt

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 itself. Get ready to dance.

Melody Bodette / VPR

Why do turtles need shells and why do they move so slowly? Why do frogs hop? Why are frogs green? Are colorful frogs poisonous? Why do frogs inflate their throats? What are some of the biggest threats to amphibians and reptiles? We wade into a Vermont pond with herpetologists Jim Andrews and Kate Kelly! We also get a preview of the new Earth Rangers podcast.

A telescope on a tripod pointed up toward a night sky.
ClaudioVentrella / iStock

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, the origins of the universe and how we know humans landed on the moon. Plus, why is the earth round? What is space made out of? How are stars formed? Why do the stars shine so bright? What's beyond space?  How long does it take to get to outer space? Will humans ever be able to go to Mars?

Italy as seen from the space shuttle Endeavour while docked at the International Space Station in May 2011.
NASA's Johnson Space Center

But Why is VPR's podcast for curious kids, and it's taking over Vermont Edition to answer questions about space with St. Michael's College astronomer and physicist John O'Meara.

Water has the power to shape the land around it.
Jane Lindholm / VPR

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. Host James Stewart has just made 4 special episodes exploring the elements fire, water, earth and air. We're bringing you the water episode!

Altayb / istock

But Why will be taking your space questions live on air on July 12! And you can participate from home, where ever you are!

Vermont's dairy farms and co-ops are among the industries affected when Congress failed to reauthorize the federal Farm Bill in September. The programs and provisions in the bill could result in tens of thousands of dollars in income for dairy farmers.
Tom Remp / Billings Farm & Museum

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? Why do pigs have more teats than cows? Why do eggs in the fridge not hatch? How do chicks grow in their eggs? Why do roosters crow? Why do horses have hooves? Why do horses stand up when they sleep? Why are some fences electric?
We get answers at Billings Farm and Museum in Woodstock, Vermont.

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