Education

Child Scientists

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Science  28 Jan 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6016, pp. 379
DOI: 10.1126/science.331.6016.379-c
CREDIT: BEAU LOTTO

What would happen if, instead of consulting previous literature, scientists asked children for advice on designing experiments? In the case of the Blackawton Bees, 8- to 10-year-old children capitalized on their own curiosity and observations to devise questions, propose a hypothesis, design experiments, and perform data analysis in an original study examining how bees perceive and remember their surroundings. Besides discovering that bees use both color and spatial analysis in deciding which color of flower to forage from, it served as an example of real science and engaged the students. This is evident in the published paper, written by the students, that contains statements such as “Before doing these experiments we did not really think about bees,” and “This experiment is important, because no one in history, including adults, has done this experiment before.” In this way, science education became more of a process of contributing to asking questions and devising strategies to answer those questions instead of a passive classroom lesson. Afterward, the students came to the same conclusion that every scientist has come to at one point in their career: “Science is cool and fun because you get to do stuff that no one has ever done before.”

Biol. Lett. 10.1098/rsbl.2010.1056 (2010).

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