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 Coloring Pages!

Listening to But Why is now even more fun! 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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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.


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.

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.

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.

Vermont governor Phil Scott stands at a podium in front of several micrphones.
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?

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.

Zocha-K / iStock

But Why is doing live radio shows during the spring of 2020, taking live questions from kids all over the country. On May 8th, we talked about bats and beavers! In the first part of the hour, Barry Genzlinger of Vermont Bat Center joined us. In the second part of the hour, wildlife biologist Kim Royar of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department helped us learn about beavers.

'But Why', a podcast hosted by Jane Lindholm and produced by Melody Bodette, will broadcast a live, interactive educational program for elementary school students on Fridays at 1 p.m. May 8-June 19.
Herb Swanson / For VPR

But Why, VPR’s podcast for curious kids, will broadcast live, interactive educational programs for elementary school students on Fridays at 1 p.m. May 8 through June 19.

Printable coloring pages are now available for select episodes of But Why!
Jory Rafael / For VPR

Listening to But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids is now even more fun! We asked Vermont artists to illustrate some of their favorite episodes to create coloring pages that you can download and print for your little (and not so little) But Why fans to color while listening to our show. 

Songbird839 / iStock

What's the deal with a little bit of extra salt making sweet things taste even sweeter? We're talking about baking and food with Molly Birnbaum, host the podcast Mystery Recipe and editor of America's Test Kitchen Kids.

tooth with dental mirror
AndreyPopov / iStock

We're answering questions about teeth with a friendly dentist! Theron Main, a pediatric dentist in S. Burlington, Vt answers: Why do we have (only) two sets of teeth? How and why do baby teeth get loose and fall out? Why don't babies have teeth when they're born? Why are teeth white? What's the purpose of gums? How does toothpaste work? How does sugar cause cavities?

Shannon Joy

We're answering 9 questions that put a smile on our faces, and we hope they make you chuckle, too. Plus, you might actually learn something from some of the answers!

Are llamas ticklish? Why do pickles and cacti look alike? What are boogers made out of? How do fish see underwater without goggles? Do skunks like their smell? Do pigs poop? Are elephants afraid of mice? Are jellyfish made of jelly? Why are yawns contagious?