Nate Butkus isn’t afraid to ask the tough questions.
“Have you ever met a space shark or space dolphin?”
“What type of heat does Rudolph’s nose give out?”
“When do ants start to hibernate?”
These are just a few the 6-year-old has asked on “The Show About Science,” a podcast he’s hosted since July 2015.
The recorded audio show — which can be listened to on a computer, cellphone or other streaming devices — features the Wilmette, Illinois, first-grader talking with experts in the subject he’s loved for half his life.
“Back when I was 3, I mixed water, salt and food coloring, and I made red salt water,” he says. “I’ve been interested in science ever since.”
Yet it was when Nate visited the office of his dad, Eric, who works as a digital-media producer at the Journal of the American Medical Association, that Nate had a eureka moment.
“I said, ‘Dad, I want to make a podcast.’ So my dad said, ‘Okay, we make podcasts here.’ So then he said, ‘What do you want to call it?’ I said, ‘The Show About Science.’ ”
His first interview? “My mom.”
Since then, “The Show About Science” has had a variety of guests on its 23 episodes, which range in length from three to 16 minutes. Nate has chatted with YouTube personalities the Amoeba Sisters about DNA, the body’s genetic code. He’s quizzed Clifford Tabin, chairman of the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, about evolution.
The podcast episodes, which are free, have been listened to more than 71,000 times.
Nate conducts the interviews, and his dad edits and produces the show during his 30-minute train ride to work.
Nate makes himself familiar with the topic he’ll be discussing by watching videos on the subject. (He’s a big fan of TED-Ed educational videos.) He says he comes up with his interview questions “out of the blue.”
Future show topics include the Environmental Protection Agency and climate change. He’s in the middle of setting up a chat with Coyote Peterson, host of Discovery Digital’s Brave Wilderness Channel.
“He stung himself with a tarantula hawk,” Nate says. “The second most painful sting in the insect kingdom.”
Nate guesses that his listeners are ages 4 to 69. It’s an audience that includes his classmates after his teacher recently played his episode about bats during a biology lesson. Now, says Nate, “there’s a little girl who runs around every morning and says: ‘The science show! “The Show About Science!” ’ My first kid fan.”
When he’s not in school or recording the show, Nate also likes to act in plays — he was recently the young Simba in “The Lion King” — and practice taekwondo.
As for when he’ll stop making “The Show About Science,” he says there’s no end in sight. “As long as I’m having fun, I’ll keep going.”
Nate’s podcast picks for kids include:
“Tumble”: “They tell short stories of science and discovery.”
“Ear Snacks”: A wacky show featuring kids and upbeat music. “They’re really fun.”
“Brains On!”: “It’s a science podcast for kids just like me.”
“The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian”: A science-fiction series about a boy who lives in space. “For his eighth birthday, he gets a robot.”
“Chloe’s Friendship Circle”: Seven-year-old Chloe Doyle of Carlstadt, New Jersey, interviews guests and plays music. “I’m so excited there are other kid podcasters out there.”