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Trees: From seed to shining seed

A freshly planted white cedar seedling sat in the ground Wednesday, May 20, 2015 near Finland, Minn. (Derek Montgomery for MPR News)
A freshly planted white cedar seedling sat in the ground Wednesday, May 20, 2015 near Finland, Minn. (Derek Montgomery for MPR News)

How do trees make oxygen? How do they grow? How do evergreens stay green all year? Why do tree leaves change color? How long can trees live? We’re branching out to tackle all these questions in this episode.

How does GPS know where you are?

GPS III satellite (Courtesy of GPS.gov).
GPS III satellite (Courtesy of GPS.gov).

Without GPS, we’d be lost. Literally. Thanks to these radio transmissions from space though, we’re able to pinpoint our location and find our way home. Join us as we learn all about satellites, how the robot voice of GPS is created and how atomic clocks hold it all together.

How and why do jellyfish sting?

Jellyfish! (Sanden Totten | KPCC)
Jellyfish! (Sanden Totten | KPCC)

All jellyfish sting – but not all jellyfish sting people. In this episode, we learn about how jellyfish sting and how they eat. Plus: stro-bi-la-tion (how jellyfish grow up).

How do animals breathe underwater?

An octopus  at the State Museum of Natural History in Karlsruhe, southern Germany. (ULI DECK/AFP/Getty Images)
An octopus at the State Museum of Natural History in Karlsruhe, southern Germany. (ULI DECK/AFP/Getty Images)

Our lungs are great at getting oxygen out of the air, but if we needed to do that underwater, we’d be sunk. So how do fish, shrimp, jellyfish and other marine animals breathe underwater? And what happens when there is no oxygen in the water for them to breathe?

How do volcanoes erupt?

Mt. Etna volcano spews lava during an eruption near the Sicilian town of Catania, Italy, Dec. 15, 2013. (Salvatore Allegra | AP File)
Mt. Etna volcano spews lava during an eruption near the Sicilian town of Catania, Italy, Dec. 15, 2013. (Salvatore Allegra | AP File)

There are all kinds of volcanoes all over the world, but how are they formed? And how do they erupt? To find out, we’ll travel to the center of the Earth, and we’ll meet a NASA robot that’s going on a very special volcano mission.

When parasitoids attack!

A parasitoid wasp on a monarch chrysalis. (Carl Stenoien | University of Minnesota)
A parasitoid wasp on a monarch chrysalis. (Carl Stenoien | University of Minnesota)

After a caterpillar goes into its chrysalis, you would expect a beautiful butterfly to emerge. But when this parasitoid attacks, the results are very different.

What makes paint stick?

A restorer works on one of the Blue tryptic (1961) by Spanish painter Joan Miro, on February 12, 2010 at the Centre Pompidou art center restoration studio in Paris. (Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images)
A restorer works on one of the Blue tryptic (1961) by Spanish painter Joan Miro, on February 12, 2010 at the Centre Pompidou art center restoration studio in Paris. (Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images)

Paint goes on wet, then it dries — and it’s stuck there. But how does it stick? We’re going to zoom way in to find out. We’ll visit a forensic chemist, a painter who makes his own paint and a party happening at the molecular level.

Roller coasters: From dream to extreme

The SpongeBob SquarePants Rock Bottom Plunge at Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. (Molly Bloom / MPR News)
The SpongeBob SquarePants Rock Bottom Plunge at Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. (Molly Bloom / MPR News)

How do roller coaster designers go from dream to reality? World-renowned roller coaster designer Alan Schilke tells us how he does it. Also — why do some people feel sick or dizzy after riding them? And how do coasters make you feel like you’re floating?

Dogs: What’s the secret of their sense of smell?

Freedom, a beagle trained to sniff out bedbugs, on July 26, 2010 in the Queens borough of New York.  (STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
Freedom, a beagle trained to sniff out bedbugs, on July 26, 2010 in the Queens borough of New York. (STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

If you’ve ever seen a dog, you know they like to sniff — the ground, people, each other’s butts. They like to smell just about everything. But why? We’re digging into the science of smell and how dogs are able to decode things we can’t even begin to imagine.