Every smart science cat needs a great sidekick. Student science writers in the Murrow College of Communication help Dr. Universe connect K-8 students with researchers at Washington State University.

Why do people like to listen to songs over and over? – Daniel, 13, Richland, WA

By Cameron Sheppard

We don’t just use our ears to hear music. A big part of hearing also has to do with our brains. Our ears certainly are necessary to help us hear, but it is our brain that helps interpret the sounds in our environment.

Our brains are made up of many different cells called neurons. Many of these neurons, like the ones that make up our auditory systems, help you do specific things like hear sound.

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How do people know things and how does it stay there? – Shayli, 9, Moab, UT

By Annabelle Hutson

Maybe you’ve heard a little voice in your head say “ba-da-ba-ba-bah, I’m lovin’ it!” when you saw a sign for McDonald’s or thought “snap, crackle, pop” when you crunched on a spoonful of Rice Krispies cereal. People can remember lots of things, like songs from advertisements, using complex memory systems in the brain.

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Why do animals have whiskers? – Addi, 5, Yakima, WA

By Lee Jiwon

As a cat, I’ve often wondered the same thing about my whiskers. I asked my friend Jennifer Slovak about it. She’s an Assistant Professor of Small Animal Internal Medicine at Washington State University who knows a whole lot about whiskers.

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Why do we get tired? – Ellie S., 11, Maryland

By Cadee Christian

Sleep is one of the most important functions of our body. It helps us feel rested and gives us energy. Getting a good night’s sleep is important for our health. But when we don’t get enough sleep, or haven’t slept in a long time, we feel tired.

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Why do birds have feathers? – Karthikeya, 7

By Bailey Campbell

Bird feathers are interesting. There are so many types, shapes, and colors. My friend Daniela Monk is a Washington State University professor who studies avian ecology, or the study of birds.

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How do planes fly? – Tahira, 12, India 

By Ian Smay

Humans went from learning how to fly a plane to putting a man on the moon in a little over 60 years. But the answer to your question goes even further back. It goes all the way back to the 1700s and actually started not with air, but with water.

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How do fish breathe? – Nghi, 11, Vietnam

By Amanda Tomchick

Cats, humans, and fish all breath for the same reason. We need oxygen. Oxygen is one of the things our bodies use to make energy.

Just like the hungry feeling you get when you haven’t eaten, your body uses oxygen to keep everything running. Unlike the breaks you take between meals, the breaks you take between breathes are much shorter. Most people take about 12 breaths per minute.

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Where do butterflies go when it rains? – Charleigh, 8, Minor Hill, Tenn.

By Hannah Welzbacker

Whenever there’s heavy rains or winds, butterflies seem to disappear. This is because butterflies hide when it rains. That’s what I found out from my friend David G. James who is an associate professor at Washington State University. He studies insects, including butterflies, in the Pacific Northwest.

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How do snakes slither? – Brayton, 10, Hawaii

By Freddy Llanos

Snakes slither to move around because they have no legs. They rely on their muscles and scales.

The scales on a snake are made from a material called keratin. That’s the same material that makes up human fingernails. They help the snake move on different surfaces.

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Why do cats lose their whiskers? – Nisi, 10, Nampa, Idaho

By Bailey Campbell

Just like humans, us cats lose hair. Have you ever brushed your hair and found that some ends up on the brush? Sometimes human hair falls out. It is the body’s way of shedding, or getting rid of dead skin and hair.

Cats shed hair and whiskers. I love a good brushing. Maybe your cat likes getting brushed, too. Sometimes when it gets hot outside, I start losing some of my hair and it helps me stay cool.

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Why do dogs and cats fight? – Kari, 10, Essex

By Cody Cottier

Because cats and dogs are different species, they aren’t usually friends in nature. Dogs in the wild see cats as prey, and cats see dogs as a threat.

They don’t choose this; it’s just hardwired into their brains. And when they live together in a house, they compete with each other for food, territory and human attention.

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What can you tell me about Mars? – Coleman, 10, Spokane, Wash. 

By Kate Weed

People have wondered if Mars has life for a long time. About a hundred years ago, an astronomer named Percival Lowell looked through a telescope and thought he saw canals—a possible sign of water and life as we know it—on Mars.

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Thanks to professor Roberta Kelly and the WSU Murrow College of Communication for teaming up to inspire the next generation of scientists and journalists.