Are we all moving to Mars?

It’s time for the Fun Kids Science Weekly, the weekly podcast that opens your minds to the most amazing things in the universe!

Kevin Yates from the National Space Centre joins us to talk about a brand new gallery all about satellite data on Earth! 

In Science in the News we hear about a lucky 6 year old fossil hunter who found a 20 million year old shark tooth, and a fireball that was spotted over the UK! 

We answer your questions, this week we find out how we could survive on Mars, and how our eyes process colour! 

We also catch up with Professor Hallux and Nurse Nanobot in their Map of Medicine series, and today we’re talking allergies. In our new Deep Space High Series we learn all about lightning storms!

MOBILE: Fun Kids Science Weekly

The science podcast for kids with Dan exploring the weirdest and coolest stuff in science!

Here’s the episode below:

Dan: Well, hello. Welcome to the Smartest show in the universe. This is the Fun Kids Science Weekly. My name is Dan. Thank you so much for being there. As we wander around the world to really search out all those science secrets that are lurking nearby, this week we’ll check into the Smartest school out of the solar system. We’ll head to Deep Space High to catch up with Professor Pulsar and learn about lightning storms.

Sam: Isn’t Jupiter meant to have a lot of storms on it?

Professor Pulsar: Jupiter has some of the most amazing storms of all. The biggest ones are around the dark side of the planet.

Dan: Also, staying in space, you can hear from the National Space Centre about what being in space can teach us about being down here on planet Earth.

Kevin Yates: Just trying to immerse people in the sense of what an amazing gift this planet is to as of all its life and its water and its habitable environment.

Dan: And I’ve got your questions, as always. This week they’re on colours and whether we’ll ever leave this planet. It’s all on the way in a brand new Fun Kids Science Weekly.

Science in the News: Megalodon Tooth Found on UK Beach, Rockets Launching Satellites & A Fireball Above the UK

Dan: Let’s kick things off with your science in the news. A six year old boy has found a shark tooth belonging to a giant megalodon. Sammy found the ten centimetre long tooth on a beach in Suffolk on holiday and it could be 20 million years old. It’s huge. The megalodon is the largest shark there has ever been. It was a fearsome monster and the teeth are very rarely found here in the UK, which is why it’s such a big deal.

Also, the first prototype of a rocket will launch small satellites from space sports in Scotland. They’ve been unveiled. They are 19 metres long and it could be properly working later this year. These are rockets that will fire satellites into space and they’ll be tested very soon.

And finally, a fireball has been reported seen above the UK. Last week, some people heard a Sonic boom and it was all over the country. Not in one place. People found it East, West, North, South, up, down, left, right. It seared over the sky for a few seconds. And now experts need to figure out if it was a meteorite that travelled across the country.

Professor Hallux’s Map of Medicine – Episode 15: Allergies

Dan: Let’s check in with one of our favourite geniuses now, it’s Professor Hallux. This is from his Map of Medicine series. For the last few weeks, he and Nurse Nanobot have been taking us around your body. What makes you sick, what makes you ill? And then who makes you better again? This week, they’re having a look into allergies.

Nurse: Professor, professor, come quickly! It’s Body!

Professor Hallux: Phew, what’s the problem?

Nurse: He can’t seem to stop sneezing and look. His eyes are all puffy too. Maybe he’s got a cold. Oh, poor Body. Have a tissue.

Professor Hallux: Never mind a tissue. I think he needs a tablecloth. I don’t think it’s a cold. He was fine at breakfast time, maybe it’s something he ate.

Nurse: Crispy flakes? He has them every day.

Professor Hallux: Or maybe it’s something else. Aha, it could be the big bunch of flowers that Aunt Bertha sent me. They were delivered just after breakfast. Let me go and get them. A quick experiment should give us the answer.

Nurse: Professor, do you think that’s a good idea?

man wiping mouse with tissue paper

Professor Hallux: Here we go. I’ll just wave them about a bit and see if anything happens. It’s the flowers. Looks like Body is suffering from hay fever. Hay fever is an allergy, and they’re a pretty antagonistic bunch of ailments. Got any facts for us, Nurse, while I open a window and lose these flowers?

Nurse: Of course, it’s all to do with your immune system. Normally it’s protecting you from germs and bugs, which could make you ill, like your very own army. But if you have an allergy, your immune system overreacts to something which is harmless to other people. This could be something like pollen, which is found in grass and flowers. We call a pollen allergy hay fever. And it’s very common.

Professor Hallux: Although not many people sneeze quite that loudly. There are lots of other types of allergies, like certain foods, such as eggs and milk, house dust mites, and even fur and hair from your pets.

Nurse: If you have eczema and asthma, you might have allergies too, because these ailments tend to go together. It isn’t just sneezing, like Body, that tells you you’re allergic. You might have a runny or blocked nose, and itchy eyes. Sometimes a rash appears quite quickly, which can be itchy. Although mild allergies are fairly common, if you have a severe reaction, you might be sick or find it hard to breathe. And that’s more serious. Isn’t that right, Prof?

Professor Hallux: Spot on Nurse. So if you’re finding it difficult to breathe, always get help straight away. So what can be done about these irritating allergens? Let’s load up the map of medicine and see what it says.

Right, something is making you sniff and sneeze or become ill on a regular basis. Your doctor might send you for an allergy test. Now, this isn’t like a test at school, which is a relief, as that would be no fun. You might have to go to the hospital or a special clinic. And as well as a blood test, there are two other types of tests they might do on you. The first is a skin prick test.

Okay, that doesn’t sound like much fun, but it’s all to help solve the mystery of what’s getting up your nose. Tiny amounts of different allergens are pricked into your skin to see if a reaction appears. Sometimes the allergens are placed on your skin on a patch. That’s the second type of test. I think I like the sound of that one better. Unless the patch is very sticky, of course. Ouch. The pricks or patches may be numbered or in a line. And if you have an allergy, they would expect your skin to turn a little red. Because it’s all neatly lined up, it’s easy to see what’s causing the problem. Of course, if you’re allergic to getting up in the mornings or doing your homework, there isn’t much you can do about that. It’s called being a kid.

white and brown bottle beside white tissue box

Nurse: Very funny Prof. But if you do have an allergy as a child, the good news is there’s a chance you will grow out of it. Unfortunately, some people never do. But once you know what the triggers are, you can manage your allergy.

Professor Hallux: That’s right. There are medicines called antihistamines that can help, and your GP can give you lots of tips to avoid the things that are irritating you.

Nurse: Allergies have been around as long as human beings have. I’ve got a great disgusting detail from Tudor times, if you’d like.

Professor Hallux: Sounds good to me!

Nurse: In the 14th century, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was plotting to be King. And rumour has it that he used his allergy to strawberries to dastardly ends. The Duke agreed to meet one of his opponents, a nobleman named Hastings. But before they met, Richard sneakily ate some strawberries. He knew they would give him a rash and make him ill. And sure enough, they did. But instead of explaining about the strawberries, the Duke shouted that he’d been cursed by Hastings and demanded his immediate execution.

Professor Hallux: Ouch. And that was the end of him. And that’s the end for us, too. Until next time. Until then, why not explore Map of Medicine for yourself?

Answering Your Questions: What is terraforming? & Why can’t you make primary colours?

Dan: It’s Question Time on the show then, I love this part. Every week when I turn into a real science detective doing all the digging, searching out the answers to the science secrets that you want to learn about. If there’s something that you need to know, leave it as a question for me as a review on Apple podcasts.

First up this week, it’s from Astro kid who wants to know what is terraforming? Now, I had never properly heard of terraforming before this, and it’s been so fun to research it. Terraforming is an idea to make other planets suitable for life from Earth. Now, Mars is the best option at the moment. Experts don’t know how long humans can sustain life on this planet, so they want to send us somewhere else. Now, humans need oxygen, different gases and some water to survive.

Now, up on Mars, there are some challenges. It’s got huge temperature extremes, gets really hot and then really cold. Earth does not have it there, and there’s no real oxygen on Mars. But experts think there’s water frozen and they want to use the Sun’s heat and energy to melt that ice. Also, they can figure out a way to make oxygen. It might mean that we need to take it all up there with us or we make it there. Who knows? Now, it won’t happen soon. Remember, it took billions of years for our planet Earth to be suitable for human life, but it’s an idea. Terraforming making other planets perfect for human life. Thank you for that. Enjoyed that, Astro kid.

brown sand under blue sky during night time

Also, this is from Ella in Ireland. Who wants to know why can’t you make primary colours but you can mix them to make other colours. You learnt about this at school yet? Primary colours are red, green and blue, but you can mix them together. It’s how you get browns, it’s how you get oranges, it’s how you get crimsons and even darker reds and loads of colours. Now, it’s all to do with your eye, not the colour. That’s why you can’t make red, green and blue in our eyes. We have three receptors that recognise colour and they are red, green and blue ones. Handy, eh? So we can understand the colour that is already there. When we see red, it hits the red receptor at the back of our eye and lets us know what’s going on. For us to understand different colours, you have to blend two of those together so they hit more than one receptor and it lets our eye tell our brain what’s going on. Thank you for that, Ella. If there’s a question that you want answered on this show next week, leave it as a review for me on Apple podcasts.

red yellow blue green and red round plastic containers

Interview with Kevin Yates from the National Space Centre

Dan: It’s the Fun Kids Science Weekly. We are headed to the National Space Centre today. They’ve got a brand new Gallery open which looks at how satellite data is so important for looking at how we see about air and water and land and everything about our home planet. Very excited today. Joining us to tell us more, Kevin Yates is the head of exhibition design. Kevin, thank you for being there.

Kevin: You’re welcome. Good to be on your show.

Dan: Now. The National Space Centre has so much going on, so busy all the time. What’s made you want to open another Gallery?

Kevin: Well, we’ve been here, I think it’s 22 years now. I started at the very beginning and stories move on, science moves on and what we understand about the universe and our solar system moves on. And people are particularly concerned these days about our home in space, about planet Earth. And I think everyone’s aware of the challenges that are facing us. And it felt timely that we should look at Earth as a planet, but also as our home and consider some of the issues that we are facing and how we can respond to those.

Dan: We are facing quite a few issues. How have you shown and presented those at the National Space Centre? What can we see when you walk into the home planet Gallery?

Kevin: What can we see when you walk into the home planet Gallery? The first thing you’ll see is a giant Earth globe. And then as you come past that, there’s a huge 13 metre panoramic screen, and on there we present lots of different biomes. So you see all sorts of habitats with different creatures in. We project onto the floor water with fish swimming through and stepping stones that kids can step over and the fish swim away from you and just try to immerse people in the sense of what an amazing gift this planet is with all its life and it’s water and it’s habitable environment, so we want to immerse people in that.

But then on the big screen, we switched to a show where we do a time lapse from the early 1800s, when it’s just like fields and horse and plough and we move through time. But as we go through to modern times of all building up of buildings and aeroplanes and cars, we start to see the temperature rising. And when we get to the 1970s, we suddenly see this rapid rise on the thermometer in the centre of the screen and it just shows how its human activity is clearly linked to the rapid rise in average global temperatures.

Dan: Kevin, you are the National Space Centre. You’re talking about our home planet. So what is it in space that helps us understand how we can save our planet better?

Kevin: Yeah, well, I mean, we are in space. Earth is a planet in space, but also, like you say the satellites, as they orbit the Earth and look back on us, can give us amazing detailed information and also information on a large scale, scanning the planets orbiting the planet. Every 90 minutes or so, they can look down and tell us about temperatures, about the atmospheric composition, how much carbon dioxide there might be in the atmosphere, wave patterns and the way the oceans work. There’s so much information deforestation where the trees are being cut down, all that sort of thing.

So all that information comes to us and helps us to build up a really big picture rather than the local picture we get wherever we happen to be. Like, we’re here in Leicester, we know what’s going on around us, but we don’t know what we can’t see from here, that big picture. So in doing that, it presents us with that information. But then what do you do with that? And you have to look and see what the patterns are and how we see that our environment is changing and we can see that a lot of it. There are cycles, it goes through naturally, but then there’s also things that we’re doing that we can change.

And that’s where we move away from, maybe the satellites into more of our behaviours and start to look at what can we do? Because a lot of people feel that as an individual, anything I do is not really going to be that significant. But our message through the Gallery is that actually it might be big business and governments that make all the major decisions, but companies need customers and politicians need voters. So with our collective choices, we can actually make a difference to these big systems that run in the world.

black hole galaxy illustration

Dan: I think it’s fair to say that a lot of us, when we see the state of the world on tele and maybe on the news and online, we can get a little bit down about it. Now, maybe you’ve got more of an insight because of what you do and where you work at the National Space Centre, how much more hopeful are you because of what you’ve learned by putting this together than maybe other people are at the moment?

Kevin: concerns, but it does feel like it’s really up there on people’s radar at the moment. People are talking about it and new generation coming through gives me optimism because a lot of the young people I meet are very switched on to these concerns. And I can remember when my daughter was a bit younger and still at home, I’d be brushing my teeth and I’d have the tap running, then she’d walk in and she just switched the tap off. So you don’t need to leave it running, that you just put it back on when you need ready to rinse your toothbrush. So there is that awareness, I think, of a new generation.

I think it’s young people coming up, generation ahead of them that are going to make it the difference and really put pressure on politicians and the rest of us oldies to make sure that we do make changes. And even during this exhibition, throughout that course, I found myself thinking about what are the changes I can make. And so I’ve already started to reduce the amount of plastic products I buy and looking at refill, things like that. And do I need to make that car journey? So, yeah, it does have an impact on you when you start to focus on it.

Dan: Amazing. Well, the Gallery is Home Planet. It’s open at the National Space Centre in Leicester now, and it’s been a delight to chat to you. Kevin Yates, head of exhibition design. Thank you for coming on.

Kevin: Thank you.

Dangerous Dan: Crocodile Monitor

Dan: It’s time for this week’s Dangerous Dan, where we look at some of the most mean and devastating things around the universe. And this week we’re checking out one of the most fearsome looking beasts in the world. You’ll find the Crocodile Monitor on the island of New Guinea, which is near Australia.

Now, I think they look terrifying. They’re often coloured black with menacing specks of yellow, green or white across their back. Now they look a bit like a Komodo Dragon. We’ve spoken about them on Dangerous Dan before, but these can get much longer. They can max out at five metres long. They’re one of the longest lizards in the world. They eat birds and bats and small rodents and they’ve got long fangs in their mouth, which are perfect for hooking in small creatures. They’re quick runners, too. They lie in wait and they stalk.

Now, they’re called Crocodile Monitors. They’re not crocodiles themselves. They’re other lizards. But the people who live near them believe that these creatures show. When crocodiles are nearby, the Crocodile Monitor will climb into a tree and watch and wait and stay out of danger. And this shows local tribes, people that a croc might be close. Now, they don’t tend to be that aggressive to humans, but they can be deadly. They tend to stay away. But if they do bite, they’re known to poison. So best to steer clear from the Crocodile Monitor. But watch where it is, because there might be bigger deadlier beasts on the loose.

Deep Space High Earth Watch – Episode 5: Lightning

Dan: It’s time to head now to the smartest school outside of the solar system. Deep Space High. This is from the Earth Watch series. We’ve been there the last few weeks catching up with Professor Pulsar, who is showing us how being up in space gives us a really good view and understanding of everything that’s happening here on planet Earth. And today, it’s all about lightning storms. Did you know that Jupiter gets huge storms and giant lightning?

Sam: I’m fed up with this storm, professor. Is there a planet somewhere like where it never rains?

Professor Pulsar: Well, you could try Mercury. It never rains there, but that’s because it’s baked to a crisp. So would you be…don’t knock storms, Sam. They’re all part of what makes Earth a planet that can support life.

Sam: Woah, did you see that lightning?

Professor Pulsar: Phenomenal. I was hoping we get a bit of lightning. Come on, Sam, let’s go inside the rain cloud.

Sam: It’s cold up here.

Professor Pulsar: Well, things may be about to get a lot warmer. Have you heard of the water cycle, Sam?

pink umbrella

Sam: Yeah. Rain falls, water and the puddles evaporate back into the clouds. When it cools down and turns back into rain, the water goes up and down over and over again, basically. That’s right, isn’t it?

Professor Pulsar: Yeah, that’s the fella. Well, all around us, molecules of water are passing each other. This is creating an electrical charge with positive particles rising higher and negative particles dropping to the bottom. As you know, opposites attract. And we’re down there on the Earth, positive particles are reaching out to the negative ones. And when they connect…

Sam: Wow. It’s like a massive fiery path appear as they joined up.

Professor Pulsar: The temperature of lightning can get hotter than the surface of the sun. And that’s why when lightning hits things, it can cause so much damage.

Sam: Can we go back indoors now? I don’t fancy getting hit by the next lightning strike. So how can lightning be a possible sign of life on other planets? It seems more like something that burns and destroys things.

Professor Pulsar: Because normally you don’t get lining without one very special ingredient. Can you remember what that might be?

Sam: Well, it’s just water.

Professor Pulsar: Just water?! Most precious substance in the universe? Well, it is if you want to stay alive. When we see lightning around other planets, it can give us a clue that there may be water in the atmosphere and the size of a storm can give us information about the atmospheres too.

lightning storm over skyscrapers

Sam: Isn’t Jupiter meant to have a lot of storms on it?

Professor Pulsar: Jupiter has some of the most amazing storms of all. The biggest ones are around the dark side of the planet because its air pressure is higher and gravity is stronger. Rain clouds are three times as tall as the ones we get on Earth. This means they get giant lightning.

Sam: Giant lightning. Wow, that sounds cool. Or should I say hot?

Professor Pulsar: Very hot. But there’s something to see, I can tell you.

Sam: Here’s a sports joke for you. What does a cloud wear under his clothes? THUNDERpants!

Professor Pulsar: And children should be seen and not heard, especially if they’re going to tell jokes like that.

Dan: And that’s it for this week’s Fun Kids Science Weekly. Thank you for listening. If there’s a science question that you want answered on the show, leave it as a review for me on Apple podcasts. There’s a little comment box at the bottom. When you find us, that’s where you leave it. Drop us five stars, write your name as well and it will really help me see it while you’re on Apple. It’s a brilliant way for you to hear loads of podcasts that we do. They’re on Google and Apple too. I’m on the free Fun Kids app and Fun Kids where our children’s radio station from the UK. You can listen to us all over the country on your dab digital radio and at

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