Brains On! Science Podcast for Kids
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this podcast.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Brains On! is a science-based podcast with more than 200 available episodes that vary widely in length, topic, and entertainment value. Every week, co-host Molly Bloom invites a kid co-host to introduce a question about the world. Interviews with experts help give answers and context to the question asked in a fun and entertaining way. Curiosity is embraced, learning is encouraged, and no question is too silly or outlandish. Vocabulary is sometimes more advanced and technical than some younger kids would be able to understand. While there is a Spanish language version of the show available, there are only seven episodes.
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What’s It About?
BRAINS ON! is an American Public Media podcast that explores a kid-suggested topic every week, and spends anywhere from 7 minutes to an hour providing historical and scientific information on that topic. Interviews with experts – which vary in vocabulary level – provide facts and explanations, while musical interludes, game-show-like segments, fictional character interactions, and kid voices liven up the episodes. Some episodes take on a friendly debate format and open up to more robust discussions and opinions on topics, while others stick mostly to facts from experts. Commonly occurring segments include Mystery Sound which gives the kid co-host a chance to guess what is happening in a topical audio clip, the Brains Honor Roll to recognize kids contacting the podcast, and a Moment of Um to briefly address a listener question unrelated to the week's topic.
Is It Any Good?
With a huge library of 200+ episodes on a wide variety of topics, Brains On! is a great go-to podcast for giving a curious kid info on a topic they find interesting. The quality of the information, facts, and interviews are great, although the vocabulary might go over the heads of younger listeners. Some episodes are better than others at breaking up dry content with entertaining segments, songs, and silliness. Even more reason to scroll through the episodes for a topic that already sparks interest, and enjoy as friendly co-hosts deepen you and your kid's knowledge!
While facts and expert interviews abound, Brains On! does not often incorporate meaningful social lessons or related ethical questions on topics. Co-hosts model curiosity and engagement in learning, but don't emphasize compassion, equity, social justice, or diverse perspectives as much as they could. Come for the information, and stay for the follow-up resources provided at the website.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how the curious people in Brains On! find out more about topics they're interested in. When you have a question, where do you go to find out more?
How do people in each episode debate about their ideas in respectful ways? What do they focus on and not focus on to make sure everyone learns and has fun while they present differing ideas?
How did the science-based topics in the podcast differ from the science you learn in school? Is the way the podcast talks about science different from how you talk about science at school?
What question about the world and how things work would you want to ask?
- Release date: July 25, 2013
- Genre: Science & STEM
- Average Run Time: 25 minutes
- Website: https://www.brainson.org/
- Host: Molly Bloom
- Publisher: American Public Media
- Pricing structure: Free
- Topics: Bugs, Horses and Farm Animals, Ocean Creatures, Science and Nature
- Last updated: August 11, 2022
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