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It’s the Ask Dr. Universe Podcast

Join Dr. Universe and her friends at Washington State University as they investigate science questions from kids around the world.

A GUIDE FOR PODCAST LISTENERS

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Season 4 Episode 1: How Do You Science | Meet an Educational Psychologist

Today we’re talking about learning with Kira Carbonneau, an educational psychologist at Washington State University.

  • Find out what educational psychologist is and how Dr. Carbonneau became one
  • Learn the difference between quantitative research and qualitative research
  • Hear Dr. Carbonneau’s advice for being a good learner—and what it has to do with the movie Sing

Resources You Can Use

Season 3 Episode 13: How Do You Science | Meet a Baby Scientist/Psychologist

Today we’re talking about babies with Masha Gartstein, a psychologist who studies infant temperament at Washington State University.

  • Learn about the individual differences that make up a baby’s temperament and how scientists study it in the lab with real babies (Hint: It involves Halloween masks!)
  • Hear about Dr. Gartstein’s job and her advice for kids who want to be scientists

Resources You Can Use

  • Check out the Gartstein Infant Temperament Lab to learn more about Dr. Gartstein’s work and see adorable photos of babies in the lab
  • Watch the trailer for Babies, Season 2 (Netflix). Dr. Gartstein is on the episode called “Nature and Nurture.” Some episodes from the first season are available on YouTube.

Season 3 Episode 12: How Do You Science | Meet an Insect Scientist

Do you love insects? Me, too. In this episode, we meet Rich Zack, an insect scientist at Washington State University.

  • Learn about entomology, the study of insects and arthropods like spiders and scorpions, and how to study insects right now.
  • Hear how Dr. Zack discovered his passion for entomology in college—and how there’s a place in science for everyone.

Resources You Can Use

Season 3 Episode 11: Making a Difference | Meet a Youth Climate Organizer

In this episode, we meet Adah Crandall. She’s an organizer with the Sunrise Movement. That’s a youth-led organization working on solutions for climate change. She started organizing as a middle schooler when she took on the Oregon Department of Transportation.

If you want to learn more, check out Sunrise on Instagram or the Green New Deal for Public Schools.

Season 3 Episode 10: Making a Difference | Western Monarch Mystery Challenge

In this episode, we meet Emily Erickson. She’s part of the Western Monarch Mystery Challenge team. That’s a community science project that asks people to look for monarch butterflies in early spring and send in pictures to help scientists learn more about these important pollinators.

If you’re interested in helping monarch butterflies near you, check out these nectar plant guides from the Xerces Society.

Season 3 Episode 9: How Do You Science | Meet a Science Writer

Do you love the Ask Dr. Universe column? That’s probably thanks to my amazing editor, Sara Zaske. Join us as we talk about what a fun job science writing is—and how science belongs to everybody.

Season 3 Episode 8: How Do You Science | Meet a Postdoctoral Fellow (Who Studies Snakes and Bears)

What’s a postdoctoral fellow? How do rattlesnakes rattle? What’s it like searching for snakes in the field or taking blood samples from a grizzly bear?

In this episode, we meet Blair Perry, a postdoctoral fellow at Washington State University. He uses the same methods to study the genes of snakes and bears!

Season 3 Episode 7: Student-Led Podcasts | Explore the Solar System with PPCS

Today, the intrepid 4th graders from Palouse Prairie Charter School take me on a space tour in their Boomcrusher space shuttle. Come along!

If your class or group is interested in working on a podcast episode with Dr. Universe, reach out. It takes about 6 months for young scientists to research and write a script and then work through editing, factchecking, and recording.

Sound effects courtesy Zapsplat.com

Season 3 Episode 6: How Do You Science | Meet a Fish Veterinarian

How do you become a scientist? What does a scientist’s day look like? Is being a scientist fun?

In this episode, we meet Nora Hickey, a fish veterinarian at Washington State University. We learn about fish medicine and why it’s important to follow your interests.

Season 3 Episode 5: Explore Early Earth | Part 2, Meet a Geologist

In this episode, we meet geologist Johannes Haemmerli of Washington State University. We learn about early Earth, some brand-new research on plate tectonics and the idea that this process helped make Earth habitable.

Listeners working on the Middle School History of Earth Next Generation Science Standards may particularly enjoy this episode.

What's your favorite mineral?

Dr. Haemmerli told us his favorite mineral: scapolite. Tell me yours!

Season 3 Episode 4: Explore Early Earth | Part 1, Meet a NASA Scientist

In this episode, we meet Sanjoy Som, an astrobiologist with NASA and Blue Marble Space Institute of Science. We learn about early Earth, stromatolites and how we can care for the planet that gave us life.

Listeners working on the Middle School History of Earth Next Generation Science Standards may particularly enjoy this episode.

Season 3 Episode 3: How Do You Science | Meet a Student Scientist

In this episode, we meet Kalli Stephens, a student scientist at Washington State University. We learn about what she does in the lab and how to find your place in science as a young person.

Season 3 Episode 2: How Do You Science | Meet a Neurobiologist

How do you become a scientist? What does a scientist’s day look like? Is being a scientist fun? Dr. Universe talks with Marcos Frank, a brain scientist at Washington State University. Tune in to hear about his path to becoming a scientist and how science works in real life.

Season 3 Episode 1: Meet an Astrobiologist | Do Aliens Exist?

Dr. Universe talks with Afshin Khan, an astrobiologist who studied signs of life when she was a Ph.D. student at Washington State University. She shares her research adventures to uncover the teeny, tiny life that forms framboidal pyrite on Earth — and what it would mean if we found those structures outside Earth.

Learn more about astrobiology from scientists like Dr. Khan at Blue Marble Space Institute of Science.

Thanks to the amazing student actors at Regional Theatre of the Palouse.

Episode 18: Underwater Volcanoes and Crystals

Dr. Universe and a group of junior scientists from Palouse Prairie Charter School learn about underwater volcanoes and crystals. Students from the fourth-grade class in Moscow, Idaho help Dr. Universe answer earth science questions.

Another big thank you to Northwest Public Broadcasting for help with recording! You can find sources for information about underwater volcanoes and crystals in the transcript.

Episode 17: All About Space

Dr. Universe is back with a group of junior scientists from Palouse Prairie Charter School to learn about space. Students from the fourth-grade class in Moscow, Idaho, help Dr. Universe answer how we know there are planets outside our solar system and what the universe actually is. If you like thinking about multiverses, black holes and the potential for life outside Earth, this is the episode for you!
Another big thank you to Northwest Public Broadcasting for help with recording!
You can find sources for space information in the transcript.

Episode 16: All About Volcanoes

Dr. Universe joins a group of junior scientists from Palouse Prairie Charter School to learn about volcanoes. Students from the fourth-grade class in Moscow, Idaho, help Dr. Universe answer how volcanoes work, how they form, what happens when they erupt, whether volcanoes are on other planets, and a lot of other cool (or hot) information about these amazing mountains.
A big thank you to Northwest Public Broadcasting for help with recording!
You can find sources for volcano information in the transcript.

Episode 15: Meet a Cell Scientist | Why do we have hair?

Welcome back, young scientists. I’m Dr. Universe and if you’re anything like me you’ve got lots of big questions about our world. This special edition episode features an interview with a scientist from our video series, Ask Dr. Universe, Meet the Scientists. If you like what you hear, you can watch the whole video interview with Dr. Ryan Driskell under the videos tab at askDrUniverse.wsu.edu. Let’s get started.

Episode 14: Meet a Veterinarian + How do lungs work?

Welcome back, young scientists. On this episode, we meet Dr. Kim Chiok, a veterinarian at Washington State University who enjoys writing, doing experiments, and who is curious about viruses, especially those that affect the lungs and other parts of the respiratory system. Plus, we explore a question about how our lungs work.

Episode 13: Meet a Sleep Scientist + Why sleep feels short

Hello young scientists. I’m Dr. Universe and if you are anything like me, you’ve got lots of big questions about our world. Today’s special guest is Ashley Ingiosi, a WSU researcher who is really curious about sleep. We’ll also investigate a question about why sleep sometimes feels so short.

Episode 12: Meet a Plant Doctor + Pumpkins

Hello young scientists. I’m Dr. Universe and if you are anything like me, you’ve got lots of big questions about our world. Today’s special guest is Lydia Tymon who is really curious about plants and why they get sick—yes, you heard that right, plants can get sick, too.  We’ll also investigate some questions about pumpkins along the way.

Episode 11: Meet a Planetary Scientist + Mountains

On this episode, we meet with Julie Menard, a planetary scientist and geoscience education professional from Washington State University. Plus, we investigate a big kid question about how mountains form.

Episode 10: Ice Cream, Berries, Learning Hard Stuff

Welcome back, young scientists. On this episode, we’ll investigate great questions from young scientists like, Why does ice cream melt? Why are some berries poisonous? And how do we learn things that are really, really hard?

Episode 9: Handedness, Weighing Planets, Worms

Welcome back, young scientists. Have you ever wondered why most people are right-handed? How we learned to weigh a whole planet? How worms help the soil? Join Dr. Universe and Washington State University researchers as we investigate these great kid questions.

Episode 8: Toothpaste, Sunburns, Saturn’s Rings

On this episode, we investigate questions about how toothpaste helps clean our teeth, why humans get sunburns, and how Saturn’s rings formed. A big thanks to our kid narrator from Regional Theatre of the Palouse and to the scientists at Washington State University.

Episode 7: Bird Migration, Touch Screen Technology, Goosebumps

On this episode, we investigate how birds know how to migrate, how touch screens work and why humans get goosebumps. A big thanks to our narrator Natalie from Regional Theatre of the Palouse and to WSU researchers Heather Watts, Praveen Sekhar and Ryan Driskell for helping with the science on this episode. If you enjoy the podcast, leave a review for Dr. Universe on your favorite podcast app.

Episode 6: Flying Squirrels, Curious Pets, Frosty Patterns, Stinky Cheeses

On this episode, we’ll explore all kinds of great kid questions. Can flying squirrels really fly? Why do cats and dogs spin around before they sit down? Why does frost make different patterns? Why does cheese stink? Thanks to everyone who helped with the science on this episode: Todd Wilson, Dr. Jessica Bell, Kai Carter, and Minto Michael. If you enjoy the podcast, leave a review for Dr. Universe on your favorite podcast app.

Episode 5: Seasons, Black Holes, Ponds, Shadows

On this episode, our questions take us to outer space, the bottom of a pond, and into the fascinating world of light and shadows. Thanks to our friends at Washington State University for helping with the science: Vivienne Baldassare, Sukanta Bose, Joan Wu and Anya Rasmussen. And thanks to you for listening. If you enjoy the podcast, leave a review for Dr. Universe on your favorite podcast app.

Episode 4: Mushroom Rings, Apple Cider, Tree Sap, Glass Colors, Lost Connections

On this episode, we’ll investigate questions about why mushrooms grow in rings, how to make apple cider, the art of stained glass, why trees have sap and finally investigate why the internet goes down. Thanks to Washington State University researchers David Wheeler, Bri Valliere, Nadia Valverdi, Dustin Regul, and Dingwen Tao for help with the answers. If you enjoy the podcast, leave a review for Dr. Universe on your favorite podcast app.

Episode 3: Knuckle-Walking Apes, Yawning Tears, Best Exercises, A Pandemic Mystery

Have you ever wondered why apes walk on their knuckles? Why we make tears when we yawn? Why and how exercise helps our bodies? What’s the best exercise? How the COVID-19 pandemic started? On this episode, we’ll dig into these great kid science questions. Thanks to Washington State University researchers Nanda GrowKarin BiggsChris Connolly, and Michael Letko for helping with the science.

Episode 2: Ants, Face Masks, Pins and Needles, Gummies, Spider Webs

Have you ever wondered why ants build hills? Why face masks are effective? Why we sometimes get that pins and needles feeling when we sit too long? How gummies are made? Why spiders hang upside down in their webs? On this episode, we’ll dig into these great kid science questions with help from researchers at Washington State University: Rob ClarkDarrell JacksonMarian Wilson, Hang LiuConnie Remsberg, and Todd Murray.

Episode 1: Coins, Robots, Bees, Food, Dogs, Microbes

Hello, young scientists. I’m Dr. Universe and if you’re anything like me, you’ve got lots of big questions about our world. On this episode, we’ll talk with researchers at Washington State University about how coins are made, robot languages, bee wings, how food gives us energy, if dogs can tell time, and explore a tiny world of microbes. Thanks to Elizabeth Reilly Gurocak, Manoj Karkee, Melanie Kirby, Alice Ma, Lynne Nelson, and Viveka Vadyvaloo for helping with the science.

 

A guide for listening to the podcasts

Dr. Universe cat cartoon wearing headphones

Before you listen

  • Choose one of the questions from the podcast. What do you think the answer might be? Why?
  • What questions do you have about the topic?
  • If you were to create a podcast of your own, what science topics would you talk about? What kind of scientist would you interview?

While you listen

  • Take a few notes. Scientists take lots of notes.
  • Write down any questions or words you might not know.

After you listen

  • What was one NEW thing you learned?
  • Who was one scientist on the podcast that inspired you?
  • Did you hear any words you have never heard before? Can you make a list and discover the definitions?
  • What is one fact you can share with family or friends?