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But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids

But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids

But Why is a show led by kids. They 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. Know a kid with a question? Record it with a smartphone. Be sure to include your kid's first name, age, and town and send the recording to [email protected]!

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Episodes

'Are Llamas Ticklish?' And Other Silly Questions

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? Guests include Jo Blasi from the New England Aqarium, naturalist Marry Holland, therapy llama-handler Shannon Joy, and Elephant Listening Project researcher Peter Wrege.
2020-03-27
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Brave Little State: Tips From A Homeschooling, Remote-Working Mom

We?re sharing an episode of a Vermont Public Radio's Brave Little State. We know many of you are experiencing some changes now that schools in lots of states and countries are closed to slow the spread of COVID-19. For some families this is the first time you?ve had to try to do something like school at home. But others of you might do homeschooling all the time; and you?ve probably got some great advice for families who are new to this routine! This episode of Brave Little State brought together two families to talk about how to make the shift.
2020-03-25
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Coronavirus For Kids, And The Science Of Soap

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.
2020-03-13
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Why Do People Have Nightmares?

Why do people dream? Why do people have nightmares? How do dreams happen? Can people who are blind can see in their dreams? We're listening back to our episode about dreams with psychiatrist Dr. David Kahn of Harvard Medical School.
2020-02-28
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How Do We Fall Asleep?

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, all about sleep. We're highlighting an episode from 2018 with pediatric sleep psychologist Dr. Lisa Meltzer. And stay tuned; our next episode is all about dreams!
2020-02-14
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What Happens When A President Is Impeached?

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. Our guests for this episode are Loyola Law School professor and legal analyst Jessica Levinson and Kenneth C. Davis, author of Don't Know Much About History and other books.
2020-02-06
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Do Animals Get Married?

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.
2020-01-17
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Why Do Lions Roar?

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.
2020-01-03
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How Do We Taste Food?

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? In this episode of But Why we get answers to all of those questions from chef, author, and TV personality Chris Kimball, Dr. Leslie Stein of the Monell Chemical Senses Center, and Vermont-based chef and cookbook author Matthew Jennings.
2019-12-20
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Why Are Some Words 'Bad'?

In this episode, we tackle why some words are "bad". Plus: Why do people say bad words? Why aren't kids allowed to say cuss words? Why is the middle finger bad? And adults, don't worry, we won't actually be using any bad words in this episode! But we will explore the psychology and brain science behind bad words with Benjamin Bergen, professor of cognitive science at University of California, San Diego. He's the author of What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves.
2019-12-06
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Ice, Ice, Baby: Why Is Ice Slippery?

How does water turn into ice? Why is ice sometimes slippery and other times sticky? Why is it so cold? Why does it float? How are icicles made? Why are icebergs mostly underwater? What was the ice age? We'll get answers to all of those questions with help from Celeste Labedz of the California Institute of Technology. And we'll take a trip to the world's largest skating rink, the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, Ontario.
2019-11-22
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How Do Meteorologists Predict The Weather?

How do weather people predict the weather and know what's going to happen tomorrow? Why is a meteorologist called a meteorologist? We learn about weather forecasting with National Weather Service Meteorologist Jessica Neiles and NBC5 Chief Meteorologist Tom Messner.
2019-11-08
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Are Unicorns Real?

Are unicorns real? Who made them up? Where do they come from? What do they eat, how big are they, and do they have rainbow manes? We're answering all of your questions about unicorns-and learning about other mythical creatures as well with Adam Gidwitz, creator of The Unicorn Rescue Society and Dana Simpson cartoonist and author of Phoebe and Her Unicorn.
2019-10-25
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Are Jellyfish Made Of Jelly?

In this episode we're answering a few short questions about animals! Are jellyfish made of jelly? Do fish stink in the water or on land? Where do fish sleep? Do chickens have tongues? Can spiders sleep or not? How many types of animals are there in the world? Do snakes live in Antarctica? Is a springbok faster than a grizzly bear? Do skunks have big tails or small tails?
2019-10-11
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Why Do We Have To Go To School?

Why does school exist? When did kids start going, and why is it mandatory? Why are there 12 grades in school? Why do we call teachers by their last names? In this episode, we get schooled on school by sociologist Emily Rauscher and National Teacher of the Year Rodney Robinson.
2019-09-27
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How Are Noodles Made?

This week, we answer a question from 4-year-old Hugo in Burlington, Vt. Hugo wants to know how noodles are made. But he's about to get more than he bargained for! For this episode we visit a restaurant called M.Y. China, in San Francisco, CA to watch executive chef Tony Wu hand-pull 16,000 noodles in 2 minutes. The restaurant's owner, chef Martin Yan of the PBS show Yan Can Cook narrates the action. And to give us some historical context, Jen Lin-Liu, author of On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome with Love and Pasta, shares her insight.
2019-09-13
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How Is Paper Made?

How is paper made from trees? Why does paper fall apart when it gets wet? Why does it lose color in the sun? Who invented paper? We make a few sheet of paper and learn all about how it's made with artist Carol Marie Vossler at BluSeed Studios in Saranac Lake, New York.
2019-08-30
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What Do Mosquitoes Do In Winter?

This episode is all about bugs! We've gotten a lot of questions from you about insects and other critters. So we're tackling them with the help of Jessica Honaker and Kristie Reddick, otherwise known as the Bug Chicks.
2019-08-16
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Why Do Earthquakes Happen?

Why do earthquakes happen? How do the tectonic plates move underground? How do we stay safe during an earthquake? Why are continents so far apart? Why do buildings sometimes catch fire after earthquakes? Why are there tsunamis after earthquakes? For this week's show we headed to California to visit Jennifer Strauss at the Berkeley Seismology Lab and we hear from Celeste Labedz at the California Institute of Technology.
2019-08-02
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How Do Circuits Work?

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? Electrical Engineer Paul Hines answers our questions for the second half of our electricity live call-in program. Hines is a professor at the University of Vermont and co-founder of Packetized Energy.
2019-07-19
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What Is Electricity?

Where does electricity come from? What is electricity made of? Who invented it? How does electricity work? What are electrons made of? 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.
2019-07-05
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Why Do Trains Run On Tracks?

How do trains work? What about electric trains? Steam trains? Bullet trains? Why do they have to go on tracks? How can trains go so fast even though they're so heavy? And why don?t trains have seat belts? We?re traveling to Union Station in Washington, DC and answering all of your questions with Amtrak?s Patrick Kidd.
2019-06-21
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Why Are Boys Boys And Girls Girls?

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. This is a frank but age-appropriate conversation about male and female bodies and about how biological sex differs from gender. We think the whole family will enjoy this episode, but you're always free to give our episodes a listen to see if it's right for your young ones. Other questions in this episode: Why are boys taller than girls? Do only boys have Adam's apples? Why can't girls grow beards? Why do most boys have short hair? Why do girls wear makeup and boys don't? Why do professional sports have all-men's and all-women's teams? Why can more girls do the splits than boys? Why didn't women have as many rights as men back in the olden days?
2019-06-07
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How Do Mussels Get Their Shells?

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. We also get an answer to a question to how you get a ship in a bottle from Colorado-based ship-in-bottle builder Daniel Siemens in this encore episode from 2016.
2019-05-24
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Why Am I Afraid Of The Dark?

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. Then we go on a night hike with Vermont Fish and Wildlife biologist Steve Perren, to talk about ways to embrace the darkness. We practice our night vision by not using flashlights and we think about how our other senses can help us navigate. Steve also answers questions about how animals see in the dark and why it sometimes look like animals' eyes are glowing back at us in the darkness.
2019-05-10
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Why Is Sugar Bad For You?

Why do we need to eat and how does food give us energy? Why do you have to eat vegetables? Why does junk food taste so good? So many questions about food and nutrition. We get answers from Wesley Delbridge, of the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Other questions in this episode include: Why does eating salty food make you thirsty? Why is sugar bad for you? Why are vitamins in food? Why is breakfast so important? Why do children get hungry at night? Why is fast food so popular?
2019-04-26
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"Do Skunks Like Their Own Smell?" And Other Stumpers!

Today, 10 questions with one answer in common: "That's a good question!" We've picked 10 stumpers, like: Why don't we suffocate in cars when we're driving? How do we know where our mouths are? Why are there more boys than girls in books? Do monkeys every touch the ground? Why don't fish get electrocuted when lightning strikes? Where does the sidewalk end? Our experts include naturalists Mary Holland, author Grace Lin, primatologist Sofia Carrara, pediatrician Laurie Racha, Dan Goodman of AAA of Northern New England, and the poetry of Shel Silverstein.
2019-04-12
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Who Makes The Laws?

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. We also answer a question from Charlotte in North Carolina: how do elections work? And Hattie in England asks why her country has a government and a queen.
2019-03-29
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Still Funny: Why Do We Laugh?

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.
2019-03-15
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How Is But Why Made? What Is Sound?

In this episode of But Why, 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. What is sound and how is it made? Why are sound waves invisible? How do echoes work? How do microphones work? How do radio signals work? Answers to your sound and radio questions from our VPR colleagues: sound engineer Chris Albertine and Chief Technology Officer Joe Tymecki.
2019-03-01
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Why Is There A Big Patch Of Garbage In The Pacific Ocean?

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.
2019-02-15
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Why Do Elephants Have Trunks? Why Do Giraffes Have Purple Tongues?

We're exploring two different animals in today's episode. One has a long neck and the other has a long trunk! We'll answer: Why are elephants so big? How do their trunks work? Why do they have tusks? Why is elephant skin so rough? Do elephants stomp? Are they actually afraid of mice? And Why are elephants being poached? Peter Wrege of the Elephant Listening Project, which studies elephants in Central African Republic, answers elephant questions. And Steph Fennessy, from the Giraffe Conservation Foundation in Namibia, answers these questions about giraffes: Why do giraffes have long necks? Why do animals have different patterns, like zebras, giraffes, cheetah? What's a giraffe's usual life span? And why are their tongues purple?
2019-02-01
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Why Do Days Start At 12 O'Clock?

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.
2019-01-18
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Why Do We Sometimes See The Moon During The Day?

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.
2019-01-04
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What Is It Like To Be An Adult?

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?
2018-12-21
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Why Do We Poop And Fart?

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.
2018-12-07
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Circle Round: 'Armadillo's Song'

This week, instead of a normal episode, 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!
2018-11-20
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Why Don't Spiders Get Stuck In Their Webs?

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 babies?! We're talking spiders today with arachnologist Catherine Scott.
2018-11-09
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Why Do We Celebrate Halloween?

Why do we celebrate Halloween? Who created this holiday? Where do pumpkins come from and why do we carve them? This week we're answering your Halloween questions with a professor of all kinds of scary and creepy things, Regina Hansen of Boston University.
2018-10-26
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Living With A Brain Tumor: 11-Year-Old Twins Share Their Story

In today's episode we're not answering any questions. Instead, we're going to talk with 11-year-old twins Isabelle and Sophie Posner-Brown. When Sophie was two, she was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. She's had three surgeries and lots of chemotherapy, but she's been on a break from chemo for the last four years. The twins talked with But Why about what it's like to live with Sophie's illness.
2018-10-12
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Why Do People Get Cancer?

A cancer diagnosis can be scary, and for kids it can be bewildering. We've gotten some questions about cancer and in this episode we answer them with Dr. Donald Small, director of pediatric oncology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. We answer how people get sick when it's not caused by germs, how people get cancer, and why cancer "does not have a cure." There's nothing graphic or scary in this episode, but adults may want to give this episode a listen if cancer is something your littles have been dealing with.
2018-09-28
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Kangaroos, Koalas, and Wombats! Why Don?t They Live In Cities?

We'll learn about the kinds of animals that live in urban environments and the challenges they face! One young Australian listener wants to know why wombats, kangaroos and koalas hang out in the countryside rather than the city. Dr. Mark Eldridge from the Australian Museum Research Institute tackles that one. And we turn our focus to one particular urban dweller, the raccoon, with York University raccoon expert Suzanne MacDonald. She lives in Toronto, which has one of the most dense populations of raccoons in the world. She helps answer why raccoons eat garbage, how long they live and why they look like they're wearing masks.
2018-09-14
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Why Is Fire Orange?

We visit Fireman's Hall Museum in Philadelphia and get answers to a dozen questions about fire from Philly firefighter Lisa Desamour. She tells us what fire is, why matches work to start fires, and why fire is often orange. Plus: how does water put out fire? How do smoke alarms work? Why do firefighters have Dalmations?
2018-08-31
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Why Do People Like Different Types Of Music?

In this episode of But Why, we hear music from Music for Sprouts' Mr. Chris, Drummer Seny Daffe, and cellist Emily Taubl and answer questions about strings, percussion, and the magic of music itself. Get ready to dance.
2018-08-17
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Why Do Turtles Need Shells? Why Do Frogs Hop?

Why do turtles need shells? Why do turtles move so slowly? Why do frogs hop? Why are frogs green? Why are colorful frogs poisonous? Why do frogs inflate their throats? What some of the biggest threats are to amphibians and reptiles? We head out to the pond to get answers from some herpetologists! We also get a preview of the new Earth Rangers podcast!
2018-08-03
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How Was The Universe Created?

But Why explores the Big Bang, earth, stars and black holes in this call-in episode that aired live on Vermont Public Radio. Astronomer John O'Meara tackles the big bang, the origins of the universe and how we know humans landed on the moon. Plus, why is the earth round? What is space made out of? How are stars formed? Why do the stars shine so bright? What's beyond space? How long does it take to get to outer space? Will humans ever be able to go to Mars?
2018-07-20
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An Introduction To VPR's Timeline

In this episode we want to introduce you to another show made at VPR that we think you're really going to like. It's called Timeline and it explores the history of western music. Host James Stewart has just made 4 special episodes exploring the elements fire, water, earth and air. We're bringing you the water episode!
2018-07-06
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Why Is Milk White?

'But Why' heads to the farm to answer a whole herd of animal questions: How do cows make milk? Why do cows moo? Why do some animals eat grass? Why do pigs have curly tails? Why do pigs have more teats than cows? Why do eggs in the fridge not hatch? How do chicks grow in their eggs? Why do roosters crow? Why do horses have hooves? Why do horses stand up when they sleep? Why are some fences electric?
2018-06-22
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Why Do Ants Bite?

Why do ants bite? Do both male and female ants have stingers? Do ants sleep? What do they do in the winter? In this episode we learn all about the fascinating world of ants with Brian Fisher , curator of entomology at the California Academy of Sciences. Fisher has identified about 1000 different species of ants!
2018-06-08
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Hoots And Screeches And Whistles, Part 2

How fast can the fastest bird go (and what bird is it?) Why do birds have wings? How do they fly? Why are birds so colorful? And why do they sing at dawn and dusk? In the second part of our live show in April with Bird Diva Bridget Butler, we learn all about birds, and get some lessons in how to sing like our avian neighbors!
2018-05-25
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