Coronavirus Episodes and Resources

The coronavirus has turned much of the world upside down and we want to help families understand what’s going on. What exactly is it? How does it spread? Can I protect myself? We answer all those questions and more in our series.

Our team also worked with friends at the Science Museum of Minnesota to compile this resource guide of articles and web pages with tips on how to talk about pandemic-related topics with children. You can check out more about our coronavirus research with them here.

Listen to all the episodes and get even more resources below.

Episodes

Understanding coronavirus and how germs spread

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Get the transcript.

In this episode we’ll breakdown what we know about this new virus and tell you how to stay safe. Plus, we’ll listen to a podcast hosted by two chatty viruses to learn how these germs spread (and how our bodies fight back). We’ve also got a special message from some super tough hand washers.

Please note that this episode was released on March 10, 2020. For the most up-to-date information, please head to trusted sources like the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Staying home: How social distancing helps fight coronavirus

Keeping busy at home
golero/Getty Images

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Get the transcript.

In this episode we’ll explain how all of this could help slow the spread of the new coronavirus. We’ll explain some terms you’re probably hearing too, like “social distancing” and “flattening the curve.”

Please note that this episode was released on March 24, 2020. 



Virus Busters: How scientists are working to stop the coronavirus

Researching the new coronavirus
Pedro Vilela/Getty Images

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Get the transcript.

In this episode we’ll explain how these treatments work and we’ll give you some tips on keeping six feet from other people while taking a stroll outside. Oh, and Kara and Gilly stop by to drop some epic virus facts. Plus a Mystery Sound and a Moment of Um that looks at whether or not worms sleep.

Please note that this episode was released on April 7, 2020.



Coronavirus: How to be a helper from home

Girl drawing with chalk on the sidewalk
Ana M Amortegui/Getty Images/iStockphoto

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Get the transcript.

In this episode we look at some ways you can help from home, like by making masks, donating to food banks or writing letters. Two stars of the World Handwashing Federation stop by to explain the science of how water actually dries out our hands. Plus, Kara and Gilly interview science journalist Carl Zimmer on the weird world of viruses, including some viruses that help people!



Masks and mouth mist: What we know about the coronavirus now

A kid riding a bike in a helmet and face mask
Imgorthand/Getty Images

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Get the transcript.

In this episode, we find out why masks are an important tool in the fight against this new coronavirus. We’ll also talk about this unusual time we’re living through and how to deal with the uncertainty of it all. Plus: Kara and Gilly debut their first single. They’re hoping it’s a viral sensation (pun very much intended). And, of course, a new mystery sound and a Moment of Um that answers the question: Why do sharks have to keep moving to stay alive?



Past, present and future: Using time to understand this pandemic

Scrapbook to remember what it's like right now
portishead1/Getty Images

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Get the transcript.

If time feels weird to you lately, you’re not alone. The pandemic has changed the pace of life for people around the world. We’ll talk to a psychologist about how our sense of time works. We’ll look back into the past to see how a similar pandemic played out 100 years ago. Plus, we’ll ask experts to tell us what they think life will be like six months from now.


A super special shot: All about coronavirus vaccines


Covid vaccine
Pool/Getty Images


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Transcript coming soon.

In December, people started getting vaccinated against COVID-19. This is a huge scientific accomplishment and an important step in making it safe for us to hang out in person again. So how did scientists develop these vaccines so fast? And how did they test the vaccines to make sure they’re safe? And how do these mRNA vaccines work? We have answers to all your questions, plus New York Times science journalist Apoorva Mandavilli explains what scientists have found out about how long immunity lasts to this new coronavirus.


What's in the COVID vaccine?

Vaccine factory
KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images

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Transcript coming soon.

In this episode, we're using our zoom ray to zoom way in and answer your questions about the COVID vaccine. What's in the COVID vaccine? How does it work? And how do they make it? We'll also look at how our fight against the new coronavirus has had a huge impact on another virus: influenza. And, we'll head to a stadium to learn what 95% effective means for a vaccine. (Warning: There are seagulls overhead!)

Help Brains On With Research

Brains On Research

We’ve been awarded another grant from the National Science Foundation to carry out some really exciting research to understand how Brains On can help support children's and families' information needs about the covid-19 pandemic.

We are looking for people interested in helping out with our research who have listened to at least one of our episodes about the new coronavirus. If you sign up, we’ll send an adult in your family an online survey about listening to these episodes, what kinds of conversations your family is having about the pandemic, and how we can help in the future.

We’ll use what we learn to make the show even better. Plus, you get a cool thank you surprise for helping us out. Sound like something your family is down to be a part of?

Follow this link for more details.


For more on how our immune system fights viruses, check out our episode:

How do flu vaccines work?

A flu virus
2ndpic/Getty Images

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For more on how to know which sources of information are trustworthy, you can check out our four-part series Prove It:



Part one: A brief history of facts

A brief history of the facts
Chris Hsu for American Public Media

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Science under the microscope

Science under the microscope
Chris Hsu for American Public Media

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The scoop on journalism

The scoop on journalism
Chris Hsu for American Public Media

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How to find the facts

How to find the facts
Chris Hsu for American Public Media

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More Resources

World Health Organization 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention