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8-Year-Olds Publish Scientific Bee Study 174

Posted by samzenpus
from the write-of-the-bumblebee dept.
flintmecha writes "A group of British schoolchildren may be the youngest scientists ever to have their work published in a peer-reviewed journal. In a new paper in Biology Letters, children from Blackawton Primary School report that buff-tailed bumblebees can learn to recognize nourishing flowers based on colors and patterns. The paper itself is well worth reading. It's written entirely in the kids' voices, complete with sound effects (part of the Methods section is subtitled, ''the puzzle'duh duh duuuhhh') and figures drawn by hand in colored pencil."

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8-Year-Olds Publish Scientific Bee Study

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  • Great job (Score:3, Informative)

    by cvtan (752695) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @09:35PM (#34648308)
    Glad the journal didn't bounce the work because the figures were not done in Excel or Powerpoint. I'm ashamed I never used crayon for any of mine. Crayons are at least open source and DRM free.
  • Emily Rosa (Score:5, Informative)

    by Genrou (600910) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @09:40PM (#34648358)
    Very nice to find that there are kids who are being taught about science. Before them, Emily Rosa [wikipedia.org] was the youngest to publish a peer-reviewed paper. Her paper was an amazing experiment to refute terapeutic touch in a very well conducted study. Kudos to them
  • Re:Emily Rosa (Score:3, Informative)

    by Garth Smith (1720052) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @10:02PM (#34648500) Homepage
    Since Slashdot doesn't RTFA. Teacher wrote the abstract. The educators transcribed the rest from what the kids said verbally. Diagrams were made by the kids. The teacher collected everything and you could say worked as Editor-in-Chief, Typesetter, etc. Both the kids and the educators are listed as authors.
  • Blackawton ? (Score:4, Informative)

    by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @10:34PM (#34648684) Homepage Journal
    I notice that the town, the school, and the first author are all named Blackawton. When I looked that up on wikipedia all I can find is the town itself, no information on where the name derives from. I was wondering how they decided who would get first-author rights on the paper (very important in the biological sciences)?

    And one little thing I noticed on the paper itself when I read the full text (free in html or pdf through the web site) - they didn't cite any sources. Few publications would allow that these days, I would have expected that their corresponding (last) author would have added in some sources to establish the background at the least.
  • by prakslash (681585) on Wednesday December 22, 2010 @11:34PM (#34649014)
    I was skeptical as well but according to the reviewers [royalsocie...ishing.org]:

    "What is novel in the experiment presented here is that bees learned colour and pattern cues in a spatially complex scene composed of two-coloured local and global patterns. Coloured patterns at small and large spatial scales have been little studied, and hence our knowledge of how colourful patterns and scenes are perceived by insects is still scarce."

    I am assuming that the above statements are true and the paper is novel. There are citations in the reviewers' comments [royalsocie...ishing.org] indicating that the reviewers referred previous work in this area but still found the kids' research to be novel. Finally, even though the reviewers appreciate dthe fact that the paper was written by children and lacked advanced analysis, they didn't seem too biased. All this has made me less skeptical now.
  • Re:and (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 23, 2010 @03:24AM (#34649850)

    Have you got any meaningful criticism on the science of the paper?

  • Re:Emily Rosa (Score:3, Informative)

    by Maria D (264552) on Thursday December 23, 2010 @06:26AM (#34650426) Homepage

    Piaget published his first paper, also on biology, at ten. He could not get into the local scientific library without being a scholar. He asked what it takes, and the librarian said "a publication" - so he did just that.
    http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/information/biography/pqrst/piaget_jean.html [mnsu.edu]

    I wonder if his early problems led him to study what children are capable of later. Ironically, his developmental theories were often misinterpreted to mean that children should be restricted from some studies, especially in mathematics. There are some videos of Piaget yelling at people for that, at conferences. He has fun studies on toddlers doing proportional reasoning and what not.

"Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." -- Bernard Berenson

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