But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids

But Why is a show led by you, kids! You ask the questions and we find the answers. It’s a big interesting world out there. On But Why, we tackle topics large and small, about nature, words, even the end of the world.

Have a question? Send it to us!

Adults, use your smartphone's memo function or an audio app to record your kid's question (get up nice and close so we can hear). Be sure to include: your child's first name, age and town. And then email the audio file to questions@butwhykids.org.

New: But Why Learning Guides But Why now has educational guides to complement our newest episodes! Parents and teachers can download these guides as a PDF or Google Slide to help students deepen their understanding of the concepts they've heard in each episode. Our learning guides were designed to meet Common Core standards. Learning guides and transcripts can be found on each episode's web page. Go here for a handy list of available guides by category. 

But Why Coloring Pages

We asked Vermont artists to illustrate some of their favorite episodes to create printable coloring pages to color along while listening to our show. Download them all and find their corresponding episodes here.

But Why is hosted and produced by Jane Lindholm and produced by Melody Bodette.

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smartboy10 / istock

Election Day in the United States, where But Why is based, is officially November 3rd this year. But more Americans than usual are voting in advance this time around. All the news about the presidential election has kids asking questions.

Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript

malerapaso / iStock

This episode may not be suitable for our youngest listeners or for particularly sensitive kids.

We're discussing animal ethics with author Hal Herzog. In a follow up to our pets episodes, we look at how we treat animals very differently depending on whether we think of them as pets, food, or work animals. Why do some cultures eat cows and others don't? Why do some cultures not have pets at all? And is it okay to breed animals like dogs that have significant health problems even though we love them? Herzog is the author of Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It's So Hard to Think Straight About Animals.

Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript

But Why is here to help with your education goals! We've created learning guides to complement our recent episodes. After listening to an episode, use the learning guide to deepen your child(ren)'s understanding of what they've learned. You can find our learning guides at the top of our episode pages. We also have transcripts and some episodes are supplemented with coloring pages, experiments or recipes!

Jane Lindholm / VPR

Why do dogs have whiskers? Why are dogs' eyesight black and white? Why do dogs have so many babies? Why do dogs have tails and we don't? Why are dogs thumbs so high on their paw? Why don't dogs sweat? Why do dogs roll in the grass? Why aren't dogs and cats friends? Veterinarian and dog scientist Jessica Hekman has answers.

Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slides | Transcript | Coloring Page | Dog Breed Quiz | Answer Key

Why do cats purr? How do cats purr? Why can't we purr? Why do cats "talk" to people, but not other cats? Why do cats sharpen their claws? Are orange cats only male? Why do cats like milk and not water? Why are some cats crazy? Can cats see color? All of your cat questions answered with Abigail Tucker, author of The Lion in the Living Room.

Download our learning guide: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript | Coloring Page

Masks or cloth face-coverings are one important tool in helping to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Ghrzuzudu / iStock

In this installment, we follow up on our March episode about the novel coronavirus now that we know more about COVID-19 and how it spreads. Dr. Krutika Kuppalli, assistant clinical professor of infectious diseases at the Medical University of South Carolina, returns to answer questions about the things we can do to keep ourselves and those around us safe. And we'll learn about what vaccines are, how they're developed and the accelerated process for developing a coronavirus vaccine.


Jane Lindholm / vpr

How is ice cream made? Why does ice cream melt? Why does some ice cream melt faster than others? We'll answer your questions about this summery concoction with Rabia Kamara of Ruby Scoops in Richmond, Virginia. It's going to be sweet.

Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide  | Transcript

Rick Rycroft / Associated Press

Why do forest fires happen? What happens to the forest after a fire? Sometimes you send us questions about things you've heard about, and sometimes you send us questions about your experiences. We'll hear from 5-year-old Abby in Australia who wanted to know more about the bush fires near her home earlier this year. Liam and Emma tell us about their wildfire experiences in California, and we get answers to your questions from Ernesto Alvarado, professor at the University of Washington.

Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript

Lots of red ladybugs with black spots hanging out on a rock.
istock / Neil Bowman

This week, we're getting out our bug nets and talking about dragonflies and ladybugs! Why do ladybugs have spots? How many different types of ladybugs are there? How do ladybugs crawl on the ceiling without falling down? Where do flies and ladybugs sleep? Why are dragonflies called dragonflies? Do dragonflies bite?  We're joined by Kent McFarland a research biologist at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies and co-host of the VPR podcast Outdoor Radio.

Download our learning guide: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript

Kyle Ambusk

For our final live program of the school year, But Why had a musical celebration!

oleksandr-hruts / istock

Update 4:30 p.m. 7/6/20

We are no longer accepting responses on our survey, but you can still share your feedback by emailing it to questions@butwhykids.org.

This spring, But Why, VPR’s podcast for curious kids, broadcast live interactive educational programs for elementary school students on Fridays at 1 p.m. May 8 through June 26.

John Minchillo / Associated Press

But Why held a live discussion about race and racism on Friday, June 19th. With so much discussion about racism and the police and Black Lives Matter protests taking place across the country, kids may be asking questions about what they're hearing on the news, witnessing in their communities, or experiencing in their own lives. The authors of the ABCs of Diversity, Y. Joy Harris-Smith and Carolyn Helsel will join us in this live episode to answer questions and help kids process their experiences.

nosyrevy / istock

On Friday, June 12th we answered your question about trees and tree communication with scientists Alexia Constantinou and Katie McMahen of the Simard Lab at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Suzanne Simard's lab in the Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences studies connections and resilience in forests, with a special focus on what's going on below ground, in the soil.

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. And we have a coloring page to go with today's episode.

Download our learning guides: Transcript| Coloring Page

Gov. Phil Scott in May, speaking at one of his administration's briefings on pandemic.
Screenshot / ORCA Media

On Friday, June 5th at 1:00 p.m. Vermont Governor Phil Scott joined But Why Live on Vermont Public Radio for a special kid press conference. First, VPR reporter Peter Hirschfeld guided us through what a press conference is and how journalists think about what questions to ask. Then Governor Scott joined us for the rest of the hour to field questions from cub reporters.

Baris-Ozer / istock

But Why took your questions live on-air on Friday, May 29!  We'll be learned about words and language with linguist John McWhorter. Adults and older kids might know him from the Lexicon Valley podcast, or from one of our very early episodes of But Why!


Kate Biberdorf is known as Kate the Chemist and she does science experiments for kids.
Dustin Meyer

What is slime and how do you make it? What makes glue sticky? Why does mixing diet coke and Mentos make an explosion? How does glow in the dark stuff glow without batteries?

Download our listening guide: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript | Puffy Slime Recipe

John Raoux / AP

But Why answered your questions live on-air on Friday, May 22!

We talked  about space exploration with Jim Green, chief scientist at NASA. We also learned about NASA's mission to return to the moon and answered your space exploration questions.


THPstock / iStock

But Why answered your questions live on air on Friday, May 15.

We talked about poetry and writing with Poetry Guy Ted Scheu, Rajnii Eddins, and heard your poems!  Get your pencils ready; we included some fun writing exercises as well. We also heard from Iris Robert of the Young Writer's Project who has her own podcast called Line Break.


gtlv / iStock

Where is the border between sky and space? That's what 5-year-old Matthias of Durham, New Hampshire wants to know. Alesandra, 3 of Bella Vista, Arkansas wants to know why we can't hold air. We're joined by anthropologist Hugh Raffles, a professor at The New School, and by astronomer John O'Meara, chief scientist at the Keck Observatory. And we have special scoring by cellist Zoë Keating.

Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript