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Where do frogs go in the winter?

Dear Landon,

When the cold weather comes, I bundle up in a sweater and explore the snow.

But my frog friends are never around then. In fact, I’ve never seen a frog in a sweater.

I asked my friend Erica Crespi why that is. She’s a biologist at Washington State University. She studies frogs and other amphibians.

She told me frogs are different from you and me. We’re warm-blooded. Our bodies use energy to make heat. When it’s cold outside, it’s still warm inside our bodies. We just put on warm clothes to keep our heat from escaping.

But frogs are cold-blooded. They don’t spend a lot of energy making heat. So, when it’s cold outside, it’s cold inside a frog’s body, too. That could be bad news during a winter freeze.

Crespi told me that’s why most frogs living in places with cold winters find a slightly warmer place to hunker down.

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How do animals breathe underwater?

Dear Kinsley,

Have you ever seen a diving beetle? They’re one of my favorite animals. They live underwater and breathe air from a bubble attached to their butts.

I talked about all the ways animals breathe underwater with my friend Wes Dowd. He’s a marine biologist and animal physiologist. He studies how living things interact with the world around them.

Animals need oxygen. For air-breathers like us, oxygen is mixed into the air. For water-breathers, oxygen is mixed into the water. To get oxygen into our bodies, we all need organs and tissues made of very thin material with lots of surface area. That means lots of places that touch the air or water where oxygen can pass through. Like inside lungs or gills. Or the skin of frogs, toads, newts and salamanders that can live on land or underwater.

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Yearning for a side of whimsy with your science? Bring on the quizzes.

Do you love plants? Let’s see which endangered plant matches your vibe.

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I get lots of cat questions. What’s your feline familiar?

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Take a dip in these dinosaur questions. Then figure out your dino doppelganger.

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Chill on land or water? Who doesn’t love an amphibian? Find your amphi-bestie.

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Black History Month

February is a great time to celebrate Black scientists who changed the world—and those transforming science right now.

I talked about Black History Month with Amir Gilmore. He’s a professor and associate dean in the College of Education at Washington State University.

“There are so many things that Black people have created that we just don’t think about,” he said. “So, when I think about Black History Month, it gives me joy that other people made these inventions. Where would we be without refrigerated trucks or stoplights? Where would we be without telephone technology? I’m thankful that Black people thought about what the world needed and provided those things.”

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Why can’t we breathe in space?

On Earth, humans have oxygen to breathe. But there’s very little oxygen to breathe in space. Space is actually a kind of vacuum, which means there isn’t a whole lot of matter, or stuff, out there between the planets and the stars. For Earthlings like you and me, oxygen is an essential part of life. While 21% of Earth’s atmosphere is oxygen, my friend Yimo Liu reminded me it wasn’t always that way. Read More ...
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