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.

Special Programming & Resources During The COVID-19 Outbreak

We're thrilled to announce that But Why will broadcast live, interactive educational programs for elementary school students on Fridays at 1 p.m. May 8-June 19.

We'll cover a wide range of topics such as natural science, poetry, space, history and civics. Students are invited to call or write in with their questions during each show, and our guests will answer as many as they can!

We'll add topics and ideas for at-home activities as programs are confirmed, so bookmark this page and check back soon! 

  • Friday, May 8, 1 p.m. EDT: Bats, with Barry Genzlinger of the Vermont Bat Center and in the second half of the program we'll be talking about beavers with Kim Royar of Vermont Fish and Wildlife.
  • Friday, May 15, 1 p.m. EDT: Poetry with Poetry Guy Ted Scheu, Rajnii Eddins, and special call-outs to other poets. Write a poem ahead of time to call in and share.
  • Friday, May 22, 1 p.m. EDT: Space exploration with Jim Green, NASA's Chief Scientist. We'll learn about NASA mission to return to the moon and answer your space questions.
  • Friday, May 29, 1 p.m. EDT: Words with linguist and Lexicon Valley podcast host John McWhorter. We’ll be answering your questions about the origins of words and languages.
  • Friday, June 5, 1 p.m. EDT: Kid press conference with Vermont Governor Phil Scott. First we’ll learn about what journalists do, and then kid journalists can call in and ask their questions.
  • Friday, June 12, 1 p.m. EDT: Trees with scientists from the Simard Lab. We’ll be answering your questions about trees and tree communication.
  • Friday, June 19, 1 p.m. EDT: Music with Mister Chris. We’ll be exploring music and writing a song with Chris Dorman and other musicians. Get your instruments ready to play or sing a-long and send us your music.

Supplemental Materials from Vermont's Agency of Education

Listen to VPR on-air in Vermont and surrounding states or listen to our live stream from anywhere in the world. Kids can send their questions ahead of time to questions@vpr.org, or call-in at 1-800-639-2211 while the program is live.

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.

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.

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

DONATE to VPR to support But Why

Subscribe to the Podcast


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 will join But Why Live on Vermont Public Radio for a special kid press conference. First, VPR reporter Peter Hirschfeld will guide us through what a press conference is and how journalists think about what questions to ask. Then Governor Scott will join 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?

A grey, blue and white microscopic slide.
Centers For Disease Control

VPR is bringing But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids to the airwaves on Saturday, March 21 at noon. As coronavirus continues to spread in the United States and changes the course of everyday live, we’ll be hearing Explaining the Coronavirus To Kids, And The Science of Soap, which answers kids questions about coronavirus to give our youngest listeners the information they need to stay safe.

False-color rendering of SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Centers for Disease Control

As COVID-19 spreads across the globe, the World Health Organization has declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic. We’re answering questions about the virus with infectious disease doctor Krutika Kuppalli, who studies global pandemics. And chemistry professor Palli Thordarson, from the University of New South Wales on the science of why washing your hands with plain old soap and water is so effective against germs.

Dreams are endlessly fascinating. Psychiatrist David Kahn describes dreams as the way your brain thinks while you're asleep.
maroznc / iStock

Why do people dream? Why do people have nightmares? How do dreams happen? Can people who are blind can see in their dreams? In this episode of But Why, we're answering dreamy questions with psychiatrist Dr. David Kahn of Harvard Medical School.

Getting enough sleep is really important for the development of your brain, muscles, and emotional health.
Victor Brave / iStock

Why do people need to sleep? How do we actually go to sleep? How does sleeping get rid of toxins in the brain? And how come when it's nighttime I don't want to go to sleep but when it's morning I don't want to wake up?! Those questions and more with pediatric sleep psychologist Dr. Lisa Meltzer.

Senate Television / AP

Curious kids are hearing about the impeachment trial of US President Donald Trump. So But Why is helping them understand what impeachment is and what happens when a president is impeached. We'll explain why impeachment is an important part of the US constitution and why impeaching a president doesn't mean removing him or her from office.

Mario Hoppmann / istock

Do animals get married? Do they fall in love and have friends? Do they laugh when they're happy and cry when they're sad? When you talk to your pets, can they understand you? Why can't they speak to us? And do animals know what kind of animal they are? Alyssa Arre of the Comparative Cognition Lab at Yale tackles these interesting questions.

istock / Pedro Helder da Costa

Why do lions roar? Why do crickets chirp? Why do bucks shed their antlers every year? How can porcupines and hedgehogs avoid poking themselves? Do fish pee? What is the fastest fish? What do jellyfish eat? A roundup of animal questions, with answers from Paola Bouley of Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique, Kent McFarland of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, naturalist Mary Holland and Jo Blasi of the New England Aquarium.

Olga Chalovskaia / istock

Why do we like to eat certain foods? Why do some people like to eat spicy food? And what's up with kids not liking vegetables? Why does pineapple hurt your mouth when you eat too much of it? Why do we taste things and how? Why do different foods taste different? Do animals have the same taste buds as people?