How We’re Seeing The Oldest Stars in the Universe!

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

This week’s special guest opens up by telling us about how she gouges out fish eyes to find out where they’ve been…its Anna from Ocean Travellers telling us about how they can find out where sea creatures move and how they live.

Techno Mum is back in another Tech Trivia, this week it’s all about energy while Professor Hallux examines bad breath.

Dan answers your questions and brings us Science in the News including news about the first pictures taken from the new James Webb Space Telescope.

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: Hello and welcome along to a brand new episode of the Fun Kids Science Weekly. My name is Dan. Thank you so much for being there. You’ve stumbled upon the smartest show in the history of this here solar system. Thank you for listening, for following, for subscribing and telling everyone you know about the greatest podcast in the world, in the universe.

We search out all the science secrets lurking around the solar system. This week, that adventure takes us under the ocean. We’re chatting to Anna who is from Ocean Travellers. They are a team of people who look at where creatures move under the sea. And Anna’s task is looking at their eyes.

Anna: Where I kinda gouge eyeballs out of fish and look at their ear bones to track their movements using, basically, the chemicals that they eat and drink.

Dan: Also, it’s back to the game show this week with another episode of Techno Mum’s, Tech Trivia. This time, it’s all about energy.

Host: Next question. Name a tech job that’s all about getting the most out of energy?

Techno Mum: Car engineers! They design engines that use less fuel or run on different types of fuel, like electricity instead of petrol or diesel.

Dan: And I’ve got your questions. As always, this week, they are on names and where humans might move to if we get the chance. Stick around for that. It’s a brand new episode of the Fun Kids Science Weekly.

Science in the News: First Full Colour Pictures from the James Webb Space Telescope, First Satellite Made in Wales Set to be Launched This Year,

Dan: Let’s kick things off this week with your science in the news. Now, you might have seen this. The first full colour pictures from the new James Webb Space Telescope have been released.

Finally, this is the huge telescope with a mirror the size of a football pitch. We’ve spoken about it loads over the last year. It was shot up into space. They took time, unravelling the mirror, making sure the light and the telescope was in place. It’s looking at the oldest stars in the universe and this new picture does not disappoint. It’s the deepest picture of the universe yet taking pictures of stars. There are billions of years old. You can see loads of galaxies there as well, from way back. Seriously, go and have a look online for that James Webb Space Telescope picture.

And talking of things going into space, the first satellite made in Wales is set to be launched this year. Space Forge’s satellite was built in Cardiff in a warehouse that used to make a burger vans. It will hang around 620 miles above Earth and will help with communication around our planet.

And finally, you might have noticed, if you’re in the UK, the country is in the middle of a heatwave with hugely high temperatures. Many parts of the country have had their hottest day in ages. The Met Office, they’re the people who talk about weather. They’ve issued an extreme heat warning. It’s only been issued twice before and it warns people of a health risk because of the sun. And many experts are saying that this is a sign of climate change in action.

Professor Hallux Digital Dental Depository – How to Stop Bad Breath

Dan: Let’s catch up with Professor Hallux now. This is an episode from his Dental Depository series that we are listening to for the next few weeks. It’s all about Hallux’s Uncle Halitosis who is celebrating his 100th birthday and in his honour, Hallux has been looking all around your mouth at what gives you plaque, at what your tongue does, what the palate does, what the teeth, what the different teeth do. This week it might stink. It’s all about bad breath…

Hallux: Right nurse Nanobot, today we’ve got some particularly pongy poses all about bad breath. Did you know that’s what Halitosis means? Great Uncle Halitosis never found it funny for some reason.

Nurse: OK, let’s start. How can you tell if you’ve got bad breath?

Hallux: Well, there are some pretty obvious signs, like if people start to move away from you when you talk or hold their nose. If you’ve got a close friend, you could always ask them to be honest. There’s a simple test you can do lick the back of your hand and take a sniff. If the smell is bad, you can be fairly sure your breath is bad too.

Nurse: A strong start, Professor. Next question, what causes bad breath?

Hallux: The most common cause is the smelly gases released by bacteria as they multiply on your teeth, gums and tongue. Particles of food can get caught between your teeth and also start to whiff as they decompose. And strong food like coffee, onions and garlic can also make your breath stinky too.

woman in white knit sweater

Nurse: Next question, does it matter if you’ve got bad breath?

Hallux: Well, it depends how many friends you want. Seriously, bacteria on teeth and gums causes decay and toothache and can result in teeth needing to be removed. One of the warning signs of bacteria in decay is that you always have bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth. So yes, it does matter if you’ve got bad breath.

Nurse: You’re doing great Prof, keep it up. How can you prevent bad breath?

Hallux: Well that’s simple, to prevent bad breath, keep your breath fresh. And to keep your breath fresh, clean your teeth twice a day after breakfast and after supper, before you go to bed, you need to make sure that you do a thorough job and get into every nook and cranny. And don’t forget to clean your tongue as well. You could use a special tongue brush to help.

Don’t forget flossing too, either with interdental brushes, although make sure they’re the right size or using the latest technology like an Airflosser puffing air and water through the gaps that brushes can’t easily reach and finish with an antibacterial mouthwash.

Nurse: Coming up to the finish now. So, what if you can’t seem to shift the whiff?

person with pink and black earbuds

Hallux: It can be helpful to keep a diary of what you’ve been eating. That way you may be able to identify any food or drinks which make things worse. If you really can’t seem to get rid of bad breath, it’s very important you visit your dentist, as it might be a sign of an underlying problem. Your dentist will be the best person to solve the puzzle of the pong. Seeing your dentist every six months is ideal.

And don’t forget to see a hygienist once a year. They’re the ones that ensure all the nasty bacteria and plaque is removed from your teeth. This will ensure you have the freshest smelling breath, healthiest and lightest shining teeth around.

Nurse: That’s correct! And time’s up. That’s brilliant professor. Very respectable score there. And lots of data for the digital dental depository.

Answering Your Questions: How do Scientists Name Plants and Animals? & What Planet Do Scientists Think is the Best to Move to?

Dan: Now, one thing I love doing every week when I get ready for the Fun Kids Science Weekly. I love reading the questions that you send in. I love reading how varied they are, how unique they are, how you might be interested in a strange animal, you might be interested in why you get goosebumps, you might be interested in what red blood cells do, and you might be interested in why you can’t sleep at night. We cover everything, as long as it’s sciencey. Let me do the digging, do the research for you. Just leave it as a review. Send your question to the Fun Kids Science Weekly on Apple podcasts.

Hannah is first up this week. Who wants to know how to scientists come up with names for the plants and the animals. Now, they use a system called, wait for it, the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature. And for animals, it’s called the Binomial Naming System, which is a little bit easier to remember. Now, this is based in Latin. It’s an old language, and those names, the International Code for Botanical Nomenclature, it means how we name plants.

green rubber fig plant

Now, they use Latin, which is an old language, so everyone in the world can recognise it no matter what you speak. Now, they’re made of two parts. Normally, the first part of the name is the type of characteristic it is. So is it like a rose? Is it an apple tree? Is it a stone fruit? The second part of the name is the species, which makes it a bit more specific.

Now, to make it easier, sometimes experts will give plants or animals more common names after famous people. David Attenborough has a dinosaur named after him. Prince Charles from the UK has a frog named after him. And Beyonce even has a horse fly named after her because it has thick gold hair, just like Queen B. So there you go, Hannah. That’s how they come up with names for plants and animals. It’s a very strict system.

Also this week Astro Kid, whose birthday was on the 9th July. So happy birthday for last week Astro Kids, sorry I’m a few days late, they want to know what planet do scientists think is the best to move to and to colonise, if we can.

Well, many experts think many different things about what planets in the solar system we could perhaps move to if we need to get off Earth. It’s all about what the atmosphere is like, how hot it is, how strong the gravity is, whether we could even grow things there. Now, loads of people think loads of different things, but quite a lot of experts agree on Mercury, which is the closest planet to the sun. You think it would be the hottest, but actually that’s not quite the case. It’s a little bit cooler than Mars and they think there might be water there too.

Now they think the north and south pole of Mercury would be good because it’s not as hot. The day and nighttimes are similar to ours here on Earth and the strength of gravity on Mercury isn’t horrendous too, so humans won’t be squashed and sucked down to the ground as soon as they touch down Astro Kid. So who knows, maybe in 10/20 4 million years, we might all be living on Mercury.

Thank you for the question. If there’s something you would love answered on this show next week, leave it as a review on Apple podcasts.

Interview with Dr. Anna Sturrock:

Dan: It’s the Fun Kids Science Weekly. This week, we’re learning about the people who learn about what’s going on under the sea. Dr Anna Sturrock is part of the Ocean Travellers team and she looks at fish ears and eyes which can tell them where that creature has actually been. Anna, thank you so much for being there.

Anna: Thank you for having me.

Dan: So that’s kind of what you do. But tell us about the ocean travellers. Who are they and what do they do? What are they trying to find out about beasts under the ocean?

Anna: Cool, yeah. It’s been a wonderful experience to be part of this, because we all came together with our own research ideas and then we suddenly realised we’re doing kind of the importance of movement in the sea, but completely different spatial scales and using very different tools. And so we’re going from these kind of micro-scale movements. Some people are looking at the barnacles that settle on ships and onto whales and so on, and how they explore that surface and decide where to live for the rest of their lives. So that’s a very important movement for them.

We’re also looking at diatoms, tiny, tiny, tiny green algae that produce about 20% of the oceans oxygen. You’ll get about 30 of them across a single human hair. But they’re so important. Every single day they move up and down in the sediments in our mud and they produce slime that other animals eat but they also that movement allows them to photosynthesise, which is so important for creating kind of food, the base of food web and so on. And without that glue in the sediment that they produce, actually we wouldn’t have any estuary at all because the mud just go away.

body of water under sky

And then we’ve got these really, really, long movements, things like tuna take and whale sharks and great white sharks, where we often have to use things like tagging technology and stick a tag to the outside the animal to track them. And then we have my weird and wonderful methods where I can gouge eyeballs out of fish and look at their ear bones to track their movements using basically the chemicals that they eat and drink.

Dan: So what’s amazing is you’re looking at the way that all forms of different creatures under the ocean move around, how they travel. Now, it really surprises me that we don’t know a lot of this stuff already. How much is the things that you are learning? How much of it is a surprise to science and just completely new information?

Anna: That’s a great question. Yeah, I think we know a lot of the outcomes of these movements, but we didn’t know the mechanisms. And so, for example, by understanding how diatoms move through the mud, we can then start predicting what the impacts of things like pollution on oxygen production and carbon sequestration and so on. We’re also learning about these amazing long migrations that animals take and we’re realising that within a single species there could be a completely diverse array of strategies.

And there’s a lovely quote from somewhere about how that variation within species is the hidden biodiversity crisis. Because we all talk about species extinction, but we don’t realise that those really important individual behaviours that animals do, just like humans, actually is really important for making resilient to all the stressful things that are happening in our climate.

Dan: And you said that you’re doing something bizarre with the eyeballs. Just tell us more about what you do first.

Anna: hair and teeth and nails, they’re basically recording the things that have gone into your body so what you’ve eaten or what you’ve drunk. In the same way fish and other animals have different tissues that grow through time and they’re recording information about that individual. It might be what temperatures they experience, it might be what they ate and so on.

And so these methods work really well because fish, they have ears. People don’t realise this, but they do have ears. And so they’ve got something called an ear stone and otilith in their brain and that grows like a beautiful crystal with wings in it, just like a tree trunk. And so every year millions of them are used for age studies because it helps us to know if fish are being overfished but also then you can use the chemistry across those layers as a chemical tracker of where that fish has lived and what state. That’s what I do.

Dan: And there’s something about eyes as well, isn’t it? So there’s eye lenses. Is that a similar idea, that what they eat builds their eye lenses so you can see where they’ve been and where what they’ve eaten has come from?

Anna: Exactly, yes. And so the eye lens is a little bit like the otolith, the otolith is better for looking at the water chemistry. The eye lens is a bit better looking at what they’ve eaten. And it grows again in layers. It’s like a tiny, tiny, clear, beautiful onion. And you peel it with tiny tweezers under the microscope and then we can look at the chemical composition to see what they’ve been eating. And so I do this quite a lot with salmon.

I kind of borrowed the methods from researchers over in California that really pioneered this work. And one of the things over here, unfortunately, is that salmon are not doing very well. No one wants to legally or basically kill a salmon anymore. And so what we do is we have people call us up when they found a dead one on the riverside and we go and chop their heads off. It’s really smelly, disgusting work, but super cool what we can find out after doing that.

Dan: It sounds very fiddly with the eye lens part of your science. What’s the actual science that’s involved? So you’ve got your tiny lens. It’s like a tiny, small onion, as you said. You’ve peeled it back, then what are you doing with it? How are you figuring out what it’s eaten from looking at it?

Anna: Very good question. Yes. And so basically, the composition, the ratio of different isotopes, things like carbon or nitrogen, will tell us a little bit about the food web that fish was in and what it was eating. And so when we take those tiny layers, we dry them out and we put them in tiny tin cups and then we have to crimp and fold up these tin cups and then we actually send them off for analysis in a mass spectrometer.

Dan: Now, you’ve studied salmon, as you’ve said, probably fish from all over the world. What have you learned about some of these creatures studying their eyes and ears that perhaps surprised you about where these fish have ended up around the ocean?

school of fish in water

Anna: That’s a good question as well. Yeah, I think one of the things that is great about the work with kind of natural tags and so on, is it filling in gaps that we didn’t know about, because these really small life stages, that’s when most of our fish actually die. We always have a lot of mortality in fish. It’s just how they work. But it’s really hard to know what they’re doing when they’re small because we can’t put a tag on them, they’re just too small. And so these are kind of natural tags in otoliths and eye lenses are filling in those gaps.

And so what we’re finding out, for example, is we thought we knew what salmon did and they only spent time in the river and they spent a number of years upstream and so on. We’re actually finding there’s a real diversity in what they’re doing, both within freshwater and when they’re leaving. And so this allows us to then say, okay, this nursery habitat is super important, we should protect it. Or in California, where they have a lot of dams and reservoirs, we can say, when you release all that water from that dam, that really benefits the salmon. We saw them grow faster and survive better, or vice versa, it might say, actually, it had a negative effect.

Dan: And what’s the final goal, I guess, for ocean travellers? Are you trying to get every single creature under the sea under your microscope and peel back its eye layers?

Anna: What we really want to do is just inspire people to learn more. And so we’ve got people looking at coral bleaching and biofouling and collective navigation. Why fish shoal? Why do they group together like they do? A bit like Starlings and human crowds. So we just want to get people really jazzed about it.

And we also have a new video game called The Maze of Misfortune, and it’s really good fun and it’s got lots of questions that really getting eight to 16 year olds typically have been really enjoying playing it and thinking about all the perils that they face and just simple things that we could be doing to help them. Reducing our fish consumption, not necessarily avoiding them all together, but doing things like that and reducing energy consumption, reducing plastic waste, all of this will help our ocean travellers.

Dan: Amazing. That’s the maze of misfortune. Dr. Anna Sturrock from Ocean Travellers. Thank you so much for joining us.

Anna: Thank you so much for having me. It’s a pleasure.

Dangerous Dan: Olive Sea Snake

Dan: It’s time for this week’s Dangerous Dan, where we look at some of the most mean and cruel things around the universe. Now, this week, just like our guest earlier on today, we’re headed under the ocean to take a look at one of the most terrifying sea snakes around. You’ll find the Olive Sea Snake around the northern coast of Australia, which, when you think about it, is where a lot of dangerous things end up.

It’s a light green colour which gives it its name. It can grow to two metres long, which is probably as long as your dad might be tall. Now, like all sea snakes, they are reptiles, so they breathe oxygen from above the sea surface. What’s interesting, though, is their entire life cycle takes place under the ocean. They’re born, they live, and then they die underwater. The only time they see any land is where they need to take a deep breath. And because of that, they have a huge lung. It lets them hold their breath for 2 hours at a time. They’ve got a flat tail, which helps them squeeze in between rocks and hide. And they’ve got a special sensor in there that notices light too, which helps them blend into the darkness.

Now, the olive sea snake are quite aggressive hunters. They find crustaceans like prawns and crabs to feast on. And they can be extremely venomous. Now, that’s normally saved for food. They do try and stay away from humans, but if there is contact, if you get too close, if they sense you’re nearby, they might become scared and bite. And their bites, with that extremely potent venom, can be deadly. They’re a highly deadly sea snake, which always look terrifying. And that’s why the Olive Sea Snake goes straight onto our Dangerous Dan list.

Techno Mum Tech Trivia: Energy

Dan: Let’s catch up with one of our favourite geniuses on the show. She is a gadget genius. Her name is Techno Mum. We’ve heard some of her series before on the podcast. This time around, we’re looking at Tech Trivia. She is the lead, she is the hero of a brand new game show. It’s testing her knowledge about some of the most epic brand new tech discoveries that are around and how they came about. And this week, she’s being quizzed on energy.

Host: Welcome back to Tech Trivia, the game show that tests the technical talents of our tremendous contestants. And playing this week is Techno Mum!

Techno Mum: Hi, I’m excited to be back! I love a good quiz.

Host: Now, you’ve been setting new supersonic records here at Tech Trivia, but can you hit the heights today? Let’s find out and spin the wheel. And today’s category is energy.

Your time starts now…your first question, why is energy important in technology?

Techno Mum: That’s easy. Energy fuels our world. It powers factories, runs cars, heats our home and keeps our gadgets working. Without it, well, we pretty much grind to a halt. Can you imagine a life without your tablet? What a terrible thought.

But energy can be expensive. You’ll know that if you’ve had to buy batteries for your toys or seen your parents pay for the fuel in the car. It can also create pollution, which can harm the planet. That’s why engineers are looking at ways to get new products to use the least possible energy while still delivering the experience that people want. That might be by designing new chips that can run using less energy. Or technology that switches off a car engine when it’s waiting at a traffic light. Or light bulbs with sensors that only switch on when they detect someone moving nearby.

shallow focus of string light

Host: You’re off to a flying start! Next question: Name a cool innovation that’s connected with energy.

Techno Mum: Well, what about electronic skin? Sounds a bit gruesome, but it’s an invention that’s being developed right now. It’s not really skin, but solar power cells, which are so thin and flexible that they can be put into clothing. Just imagine your clothing could power your mobile phone!

Host: Electrifying Techno Mum. Next question. Name a tech job that’s all about getting the most out of energy?

Techno Mum: Car engineers. They design engines that use less fuel or run on different types of fuel, like electricity instead of petrol or diesel. They also come up with ways for vehicles to cause less pollution or without going any slower, if at all possible.

Host: Well, you show no sign of slowing down. You’re speeding through to the next round Techno Mum.

Techno Mum: Great, I’m raring to go!

Dan: And that’s it for this week’s Fun kids Science Weekly. Thank you so much for listening. If there’s something sciencey that you would love answered on this show, let me know, because I’d love to find out the answer for you. The easiest way is to find our podcast on Apple podcasts. Leave us a review. Stick your name so I can say hello. Drop us five stars as well so I can see it makes it easier. And there’s a little comment box at the bottom. That’s where you leave your questions while you’re on Apple.

It’s a brilliant place that you can hear loads of podcasts that we make. You’ve heard Hallux and Techno Mum today. We’ve got tonnes more there on Google, Spotify. Wherever you get your shows, they’re on the free Fun Kids app too. And Fun Kids we are a children’s radio station from the UK. You can listen all around the country on your DAB digital radio and over at

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