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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colorful rock and mineral samples in a tray
Ja_Het / iStock

How are rocks made? Why are some rocks hard and others soft? How do rocks shine? How are geodes and crystals made? Why do some rocks have gems in them? Answers to your rock questions with Hendratta Ali, rock doctor! Ali is a geologist who studies and teaches at Fort Hays State University in Kansas.

Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript

833789384 / istock

Is it OK to do something that you were told not to do and then never tell anybody? In this episode we tackle that thorny question from 10-year-old Finn from Seattle. We'll also wrestle with the question, "Why do people make really bad choices and want other people's lives to be harder?"

Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript

sabelskaya / istock

Have you ever felt competitive with a friend or a sibling? Competition comes up in a lot of different ways in life. Maybe you're running a race with a friend and you want to beat them! Maybe you're trying to play a song without making a mistake and you're competing against yourself.

Columbian Mammoths
Peter Schouten

In the ice age, megafauna roamed North America: mammoths, saber-toothed cats, even giant land sloths! What happened to them? In this episode we answer questions about the ice age: What was it? Did birds live during that time period? How about giraffes? Did people live with woolly mammoths? Why did mammoths go extinct? We'll answer your questions with Ross MacPhee, senior curator at the American Museum of Natural History and author of End of Megafauna: The Fate of the World's Hugest, Fiercest, and Strangest Animals.

Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript

A child's picture of a robotic half-unicorn-half-mermaid that swims through the water, swallowing microplastics.
Courtesy Mary James

In 2019, we answered a question about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a huge mass of plastic and other trash swirling around in the Pacific Ocean. Mary James heard that episode and was so inspired, she created a device to help clean up the plastic in the ocean. In this episode of But Why, we learn about her invention, the mermicorn!

Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript

NASA/JPL-Caltech

On Thursday, February 18th, a robot called a rover is expected to land on the surface of Mars, and begin collecting information scientists hope will help us learn if life ever existed on that planet! We answer your Mars questions with Mitch Schulte, NASA program scientist for the Mars 2020 mission.

Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript

Taza Chocolate

How is chocolate made? Why can't we eat chocolate all the time? Why is chocolate dangerous for dogs? Why do adults like coffee? In this episode, we tour Taza Chocolate in Somerville, Massachusetts to learn how chocolate goes from bean to bar. Then we visit a coffee roaster in Maine to learn about this parent-fuel that so many kids find gross! And we'll learn a little about Valentine's Day.

Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slides | Transcript

lucky-photographer / istock

What makes a cactus a cactus? And what are you supposed to call a group of these plants--cacti, cactuses, or cactus?! We'll find out in today's episode, as we learn more about the cactus family with Kimberlie McCue of the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona. She'll answer kid questions about why cactuses are spiky and how they got those spikes, as well as why teddy bear cactuses aren't actually cuddly!

Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript

Julie Benbassat

Why are whale sharks called whale sharks? Why are guinea pigs called pigs if they're not pigs? Why are eagles called bald eagles if they're not bald? You also ask us lots of questions about why and how animals got their names. So today we're going to introduce you to the concept of taxonomy, or how animals are categorized, and we'll also talk about the difference between scientific and common names.

Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript

"Be Brave" painted on a rock
Jann Huzienga / istock

As the new year dawns, what are you hopeful for in 2021?

Even though the change of the calendar year is mostly symbolic, New Year's Day is often a time for looking back on the year that just passed and setting goals for the year ahead. We asked you to share your hopes and dreams for 2021, from the end of the COVID-19 pandemic to your own personal goals. In this episode, more than 100 kids from around the world offer New Year's resolutions.

Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript

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.

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

babies in rows swaddled with safety pins
stockakia / istock

Why are babies small and grownups big? Why are babies so helpless, instead of little versions of adults? Do babies know they're babies? How do babies grow? How do babies learn to talk?

Kids have been sending us lots of questions about babies! This week we're learning more about the development of the human brain  with Celeste Kidd, professor of psychology and primary investigator at the  Kidd Lab at the University of California Berkeley.

Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slides | Transcript

Brynn Anderson / Associated Press

A few weeks ago we talked about why kids can't vote and we also answered some questions about the U.S. Presidential Election. It's been two weeks since the November 3rd election, but we're still getting questions about it! We get answers from NPR political reporter Ayesha Rascoe.

TRANSCRIPT

Amy Van Cise / Cascadia Research Collective

In our most recent episode, we answered questions about  really big animals: whales!

We covered a lot when it comes to these huge aquatic mammals but there was one big topic we didn't get to: and that's how whales communicate.  We'll learn more about the sounds whales make: singing, whistles, and echolocation clicks with Amy Van Cise, a biologist at NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle, Washington.

istock / eco2drew

How do whales spray water? Why are humpback whales so fat and blue whales so long, and why are blue whales blue? Do whales have belly buttons? How do you weigh a whale? And how do whales drink water in the salty ocean? We have a whale of a time answering questions about these ocean-dwelling mammals with paleontologist Nick Pyenson, author of Spying on Whales: The Past, Present and Future of Earth's Most Awesome Creatures.

Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript

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

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