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

michaelmjc / istock

How do circuits work? How do electric plugs work? Why do some things conduct electricity and some things do not? How does a battery make a phone work? How do lights turn on? Where do electrons go when the electricity is off? How fast is electricity? How do light bulbs work? How does solar power work? How do electric cars work? Why is electricity dangerous?

Younggi-Kim / istock

Where does electricity come from? What is electricity made of? Who invented it? How does electricity work? What are electrons made of? Where does static electricity come from? How is it generated? Why don't we use lightning as a power source? How does electricity power things? Electrical Engineer Paul Hines answers our questions, in part one of our live call-in program. Hines is a professor at the University of Vermont and co-founder of Packetized Energy.

An Amtrak passenger train pulls into a station on a rainy evening.
Courtesy / Amtrak

How do trains work? We're traveling to Union Station in Washington, DC and answering all of your questions with Amtrak's Patrick Kidd.

Younggi-Kim / istock

But Why takes over the airwaves of VPR's news and culture program, Vermont Edition. University of Vermont electrical engineering professor Paul Hines joins us to answer the many questions we've already gotten and those that come in live about electricity, renewable energy and other POWERful topics.

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This week we're answering questions about gender. We've gotten a lot of questions about the differences between boys and girls so we're tackling them with Vanderbilt anthropologist Anna Catesby Yant and Dr. Lori Racha of UVM Medical Center.

Jane Lindholm / VPR

We're heading to the coast of Maine to learn a little bit about why the sea is salty and how mussels get their shells with Zach Whitener, a research associate at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland, Maine.

mustafahacalaki / istock

Lots of people are afraid of the dark, including many kids who have shared that fear with us. In today's episode we explore the fear of the dark with Daniel Handler, better known as Lemony Snicket, the author of the Series of Unfortunate Events books, and a picture book for young kids called The Dark.

5Second / istock

Why do we crave sweet foods even if they're bad for us? Why do we have to eat vegetables? Why does junk food taste so good? We answer all of your nutrition questions with Wesley Delbridge of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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Keith Szafranski

Good Question! In this episode of But Why, we answer some questions that make us say, huh? Why do shoes get stinky? Why are little brothers so annoying? Also, why don't tow trucks have sirens?

The U.S. Capitol, where laws are made.
Tanarch / istock

Who makes the laws? That's what 5-year-old Paxton from Kelowna, British Columbia wants to know! We learn about laws with Mike Doyle of the Canadian organization Civix,  and Syl Sobel, author of How the U.S. Government Works.  Plus: how do elections work? And why does the UK have a government and a queen?

Melody A / istock

Why do we laugh? Why do you feel ticklish when someone tickles you? Why can't you tickle yourself? In this episode, originally from 2018, we learn about how humor develops with Gina Mireault of the Infant Laughter Project at Northern Vermont University. Plus: April Fools traditions and we listen to jokes sent in by kids with Vermont comedian Josie Leavitt.

Melody Bodette / VPR

In this episode, we're answering your questions about...us! Why do you make But Why? How are podcasts made? And we're answering questions about the physics of sound and radio.

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.

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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.

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