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But Why

  • In addition to having faces that look like a smiley emoticon, axolotls are as fascinating to scientific researchers as they are to kids because of their amazing ability to regenerate parts of their bodies, including their brains! In this episode we answer kids' questions about these curious salamanders with Dr. Randal Voss, a professor at the University of Kentucky. That lab alone has thousands of axolotls, but these creatures are critically endangered in the wild, where they live exclusively in the depleted and polluted waterways of Mexico City’s Lake Xochimilco. Questions we tackle in this episode: How do axolotls regrow parts of their brains? What did axolotls evolve from? Can axolotls survive out of water?
  • What do bison, moose, Gila monsters, parrots and snails have in common? Well….nothing, except they all appear in this episode! We’re rounding up some of the animal questions you’ve sent us lately. Why do bison walk slow but run fast? What’s the thing hanging down from the neck of a moose? Why do Gila monsters bite? How do parrots talk? Why do snails have slime? Answers from the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance and One Earth Conservation.
  • As we close out 2022, Jane and Melody look back at some of their favorite episodes of 2002. Why do we have friends? Why are some people left-handed? Why do pigs oink? And why is Russia invading Ukraine? Did you have a favorite episode? Let us know! Kids can record a video talking about a favorite episode and then tag us on social media or send an email to questions@butwhykids.org.
  • We continue our (if somewhat inconsistent) tradition and ask Vermont Public staffers to tell us a little more about their favorite stories from 2022.
  • How do big cargo ships and ferries float, even though they are so heavy? Why do boats float but stones sink? How do paddles make boats move? What’s inside those enormous container ships? We learn about the physics of floating with Fahad Mahmood, professor of physics at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. If you do any of the activities we mention in the episode, send us your videos!
  • Why do armadillos have shells? How do they roll into balls? Why are sloths so slow? Can sloths actually move fast? How do they defend against predators? Why do they have such long nails? We learn about two unique looking animals in this episode: sloths and armadillos. These mammals are part of an ancient superorder called Xenarthra and share a common ancestor. To get answers to kid questions about armadillos we took a field trip to Texas to talk with Michael Perez at the Forth Worth Nature Center and Refuge. And to learn about sloths, we interviewed Sam Trull of the Sloth Institute in Costa Rica.
  • Emoji are those little images you can send in text messages to friends and family. Nine-year-old Leila in New Jersey wants to know how they were invented. So in this episode we find out with Jane Solomon, editor at Emojipedia and Paul Galloway of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. We learn what the first emoji looked like, way back in the dark ages of the 1990s and we explore how emoji may be a new trend, but communicating through pictures is a very old tradition. Plus, are emoji…art? Give this episode a 👂to find out!
  • But Why has answers to your dinosaur questions! When did the dinosaurs live? How many species of dinosaurs were alive in the Cretaceous period? How do dinosaurs get their names (and why are they hard to say)? Why are dinosaurs extinct? We visit Dinosaur Valley State Park in Texas to see some actual dinosaur evidence: tracks left by two types of dinosaur 113 million years ago.
  • Kids love cheese! (So do adults: Americans consume an average of 40 pounds of cheese per person per year.) In this episode we learn how cheese is made and answer all of your cheesy questions: Why are there different types of cheese? Why do cheeses have different flavors? How do you make Colby Jack cheese? How does cheese get its color? And why do we say cheese when we take a picture? We visit the Cabot Cheese factory and talk with Maegen Olsen and Panos Lekkas.
  • Why do bees pollinate? How do they make honey? Why do bees have stingers? Why do (some) bees die when they sting you? What's the difference between a bee and a wasp? Does honey have healing properties? Farmer and beekeeper John Hayden answers all of your bee questions!