Young People Can't {Can!} Do Real Science

i-44a858b4e57dc52115682bbab2b4d924-Blackawton_bees-thumb-600x379-59438.jpg

"We also discovered that science is cool and fun because you get to do stuff that no one has ever done before."

With my academic training and years of reflecting on how to teach science, I don't think I could develop a more compelling statement than this, written by a group of elementary school students.

As graduate students in science, we struggle mightily to get a paper published in a top journal. This story reported by Ed Yong in Discover magazine reminds us that pure science, the process of discovery, can be accomplished by young children. Some would argue that you need to be a professional scientist to publish in top journals; at the very least, to hold a bachelor's degree in science. Perhaps these children can teach us professional scientists something!

The referees of the publication "argued that young people can't do real science." Good thing that the Editors had better sense.

So, the paper published in Biology Letters by the Royal Society begins, written by 8 to 10 year olds, and, of course, their teacher (available free to the public until January 1):

Background: Science education rarely involves science. And yet real science has the potential to not only amaze, but also transform the way one thinks of the world and oneself.

This published paper seems to break the traditional rules of citing works and....

You can intellectualize all you want, but this paper represents the purity of discovery framed by carefully addressed questions. I invite you to read the paper and reflect upon science education. Reading this study of bees gives me hope that future generations will unveil things that we could only dream of at this moment.

Their discovery? According to the paper:

Principal finding: 'We discovered that bumblebees
can use a combination of colour and spatial
relationships in deciding which colour of flower
to forage from. We also discovered that science
is cool and fun because you get to do stuff that
no one has ever done before. (Kids from
Blackawton)'.

Thank you, Ed Yong, for sending me a preprint of this amazing scientific publication! Bravo to the Blackawton Primary School in Blackawton, Devon, UK!

More like this

What would you say if a group of primary school children achieved the unprecedented task of having their school research project accepted for publication in an internationally recognized peer-reviewed science journal? "Unbelievable," you would probably retort. But that's what happened when a cadre…
It really isn't that hard to learn to think scientifically — kids can do it. In a beautiful example of communicating science by doing it, students at Blackawton Primary School designed and executed an experiment in vision and learning by bees, and got it published in Biology Letters, which is…
Folks, I have big news... I've just published a book based on this little blog. Some of you may remember me doing a quick poll about this a while back. Well since then, I've collected about 80 or so of my favourite posts from the last year and converted them from pixels to paper. The book is now…
Hyperbole and a Half: The Year Kenny Loggins Ruined Christmas "I walked through my front door with purpose and gathered my family members in the living room to tell them about my vision. I was going to rewrite the birth of Jesus Christ and I was going to make it POP. My mom, always wanting to…

Umm, the paper is still embargoed, according to your link. So it will flash briefly across the electronic sky and be back behind a paywall before I see it.

NOTE TO READERS: I have corrected the link in my article. Enjoy!