A good podcast is a great way to stimulate a mind during a long summer drive. But with kids in the car, a murder mystery or political talk is not always the No. 1 option.
Enter the Brains On! audio podcast. This half-hour science show for curious kids and their parents answers fascinating science questions (like why is the ocean salty?) in fun ways that make it easy to digest. And better yet, this month the podcast has dedicated all five of its episodes to cars!
Your AAA spoke with co-creator and host Molly Bloom to learn more about the Brains On! summer road trip series. The Brains On! podcast is available for download in the Apple Podcasts app, Stitcher, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, Spotify and more. You can find the release dates for each upcoming episode below the following Q&A.
Q: Can you tell our readers about how Brains On! got its start and what to expect when they listen?
A: We started the podcast (in 2012) because we wanted to make something for kids. We think kids are awesome, and really smart and curious about the world. We know they get really interested in certain topics, and they have tons of questions, so we decided to tap into that curiosity and those questions with science.
From the beginning, we have asked kids to send us the questions they have. They have sent us ton and tons and tons – I think we have a spreadsheet of about 3,000 now. Every episode we do answers some of these questions.
Sometimes we talk to scientist and we have kid co-hosts that help us interview them. Other times we do little skits called ‘skit-splanations’ and sometimes we use music. We just find the most fun way to answer these questions as possible. And if you listen in the car with your kids, you can expect to have a good conversation after because we don’t dumb anything down. We take kids very seriously and we know they are very smart.
Q: When and why did the podcast decide to go all-in on cars this summer?
A: We get a lot of questions about cars. It’s probably because so many people listen in their cars and start to think, ‘I wonder how this works.’ So we decided to do a series of episodes on cars and really dig in to the topic.
Q: In the episodes, you cover topics like how engines work, alternative fuels, car designs, traffic and more. What were a couple of things you were surprised to learn?
A: I didn’t really know anything about the history of the electric car. I had no idea that is was basically a contemporary of gas-powered cars before World War I. You hear now that they are the new thing, but they aren’t new. They have been around for a long time. I also learned a lot about fuel cell technology. I had no idea about how it works and how close they are to making it more viable for drivers. In the upcoming design episode, we also talked to Ralph Gilles of Fiat Chrysler about how popular culture plays into his designs and how the past plays into his design and it was really cool to hear his perspective.
Q: The first episode features Ray Magliozzi, host of the award-winning show “Car Talk.” Were you excited to have such a big name in the automotive world participate and how do you think he did?
A: He did great. We were thrilled to talk to Ray. Being public radio people, he’s a legend, so we were so grateful that he agreed to talk to us. It was really fun, because one of our kids who wrote in with a question was the one who interviewed him with me. So it was really fun to hear her and Ray talk about cars together. He’s so good at describing how cars work and connecting with people who might not know a ton about cars. It was an honor to talk to him.
Q: What was the best part of working on the series and what do you think listeners will like about it the most?
A: I think the best part for me is connecting with the kids who inspired the episode. Working with our co-host Gabriella – who interviewed Ralph and an animator from Pixar who designed the characters in the “Cars” movies – was great. Connecting with her and seeing how excited she was to learn about cars was my favorite part.
I think our listeners are going to be really interested to hear about how these things work that we take for granted every day. Topics like how your engine works, why you get motion sickness, why cars look fast when they are close but slow when they are far away. All these things that we experience that we don’t really understand. Finding out how they work is always very exciting I think for our listeners.
So instead of I Spy and the license plate game, give the Brains On! podcast a go on your next summer road trip. There is so much to learn, and if you like cars, you’ll love this podcast. After you listen, let us know what you think in the comments section below.
Brains On! Summer Road Trip Series Release Schedule
- June 9: Engines and origin story, with special guest Ray Magliozzi, host of “Car Talk”
- June 16: Fuel and the future, with chemical engineer Anne Co of OSU, working to make fuel cell cars more affordable
- June 20: Car design (Monster Trucks)
- June 23: All these cars mean lots of traffic
- June 30: Your body in the car