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8-Year-Olds Publish Scientific Bee Study

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the write-of-the-bumblebee dept.

Science 174

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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I have one thing to say to those kids: (2)

windcask (1795642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648130)

That's 'adorabee.'

*ba-dum, ching*

Re:I have one thing to say to those kids: (5, Funny)

RobiOne (226066) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648156)

I think you want 'adorabumble'

-- Rob

Good thing they didn't include birds also (2)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648294)

Or it would have been considered illegal.

Re:Good thing they didn't include birds also (4, Insightful)

Feminist-Mom (816033) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648420)

I hate to be the cynic, but this looks really contrived. And phrases like the one in the abstract "we learned that science can be cool" (paraphrased) are so old hat and trite. I hear my kid come back from school programmed to say the same thing. It seems that this work could give the children involved what actual scientific work is like. I am concerned that the real reason for this work to further the career of their attention getting teacher. [Just conjecture.]

Re:Good thing they didn't include birds also (2)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648444)

I guess the real problem, which I think you are getting at, is that the children didn't act independently on the project, and that this could mislead them into thinking they had done real science?

Re:Good thing they didn't include birds also (1)

TrisexualPuppy (976893) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649394)

Heh. Peer reviewed used to mean something. Peer reviewed by other eight-year-olds or by academics in university? Not much difference these days.

--TSP

Re:Good thing they didn't include birds also (2)

riverat1 (1048260) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649664)

All peer review means is that the paper has been vetted for obvious errors. It's sort of like a spellchecker for science. It is merely the first step on the road to accepted science.

Re:Good thing they didn't include birds also (4, Funny)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648514)

Next experiment:

Investigations into the Correlation Between Cynicism and Technically-Oriented Social Network Participation

Re:Good thing they didn't include birds also (2)

Eraesr (1629799) | more than 3 years ago | (#34650182)

I'm also wondering where the author of the original post got the idea that it was written entirely in the kids' voices. The entire paper is riddled with words that an 8 year old would never, ever use.
Having said that, I think it's a good to get kids interested in nature, biology and science.

Re:I have one thing to say to those kids: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34648480)

-- Rob

I don't understand why you feel compelled to tack on your name like that.

-- Anonymous

Re:I have one thing to say to those kids: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34648786)

Likely because he's used to doing it in his email.. and the preview doesn't show the sig.

I don't understand why you couldn't figure that out? I did, and I am sure, many other competent people did.

-- Anonywhack

Re:I have one thing to say to those kids: (1)

Galestar (1473827) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648180)

/facepalm... that joke was aBEEzmal.

Re:I have one thing to say to those kids: (0)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648278)

Bugger off!

Re:I have one thing to say to those kids: (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648354)

Bugger off!

I'm sure the GP would agree...that really stings.

Re:I have one thing to say to those kids: (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648522)

These lame jokes are a real buzzkill.

Re:I have one thing to say to those kids: (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648586)

All the good puns have been taken. Now I've got to find a double entendre for Bombus Terrestris.

Re:I have one thing to say to those kids: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34648276)

Re:I have one thing to say to those kids: (1)

Lillebo (1561251) | more than 3 years ago | (#34650094)

Yeh, I'll chime in on this ... Aaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww :D

It's harsh but... (5, Funny)

Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648190)

...that's how it is in these publish or perish primary schools.

and (0)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649356)

...that's how it is in these publish or perish primary schools.

I think you mean 'and' as in the primary school published and the journal's scientific reputation perished.

Re:and (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34649850)

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

Re:and (3, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 3 years ago | (#34650080)

I think you mean 'and' as in the primary school published and the journal's scientific reputation perished.

I guarantee you that the reputation of Biology Letters is not in any danger. It is and will remain a top-tier journal, and its readership will pay no attention to the opinions of trolls in making this judgement.

That is what education is meant to be ... (5, Insightful)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648224)

... but sadly isn't, all too often. That said, it's good to know that there are teachers out there who care to run such projects, as well as lucky bright kids to take part in them.

Re:That is what education is meant to be ... (5, Interesting)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648460)

Yeah, unfortunately we have way too much interest in teaching children things like "content standards". As a result, we have way too many "hand out, sit down" teachers who might teach a kid how to pass the state mandated test, but they are incapable of learning things through critical reasoning. This is not engaging to most students. They want interaction and feedback and praise and it takes a VERY special kind of person to be willing to do that.

Out of all the teachers I've had and have worked with, very very few have the necessary blend of proper teaching style and the ability to relate to the younger generation. Too often they are too young to know how to teach effectively, or are too old to be able to see things from the kids' perspectives.

Side note: I recall hearing on talk radio several years ago that education majors have some of the lowest SAT scores. I'm not sure the exact figure, but this does not surprise me, nor is it necessarily a bad thing. There really need to be more teachers out there, as I would prefer my child have co-teachers that each bring a certain quality to the classroom versus one teacher who is typically incapable of adapting to the class dynamic.

Re:That is what education is meant to be ... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34648792)

Why is it that in one second we condemn standardization as evil, and in the next we praise standardization as a means of separating the wheat from the chaff?

Re:That is what education is meant to be ... (1)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649140)

I can't speak for others, but I don't praise standardized tests in their current form. Yes, they do in fact help us quantify a child's abilities, but that's almost moot since the children aren't engaged and interested most times anyway.

The metric is tainted, these kids couldn't give a shit about standards tests. The only reason they get excited for it is because it's a change from the normal day of lectures, notes, etc.

Re:That is what education is meant to be ... (3, Interesting)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648978)

Just keep in mind that it isn't completely the teacher's fault, at least in the US. In the states, forcing teachers to teach to a test, or risk losing funding for their school (and bonuses for themselves) is the problem. This is one reason I would prefer much more control at the local level, and only guidance at the federal level. Concerned parents can only get involved when the decision making is local, and are powerless when it comes to forced federal mandates. Unconcerned parents, well, it doesn't really matter, so lets worry about the parents who actually are trying to help their kids. The children of the unconcerned parents will get the same educational outcome regardless of the system.

Re:That is what education is meant to be ... (2)

azalin (67640) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649856)

Parents are much too focused on their own children to really further common good.

Nobody cares about "the children", they care about "their children".

Example needed? Well I could bring up a few school reforms here that were canceled because some parents fought with nails and teeth against the, but you would probably never heard of/care for the places involved.

Just think about adding diversity to a school. Be it Black/Hispanic/Asian/lower income/disabled/Muslim/whatever else is different from my peer group.

Re:That is what education is meant to be ... (2)

riverat1 (1048260) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649680)

If you want the best people to be teachers then you need to pay them like you mean it. It takes an extremely dedicated person to accept the relatively low level of pay teachers receive if they have opportunities for much higher pay in other fields.

Re:That is what education is meant to be ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34649966)

"content standards"?

Hhahah this is slashdot!

Re:That is what education is meant to be ... (1)

Alrescha (50745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649986)

"Too often they are too young to know how to teach effectively, or are too old to be able to see things from the kids' perspectives."

What sad pre-conceived notions you have.

A.

Re:That is what education is meant to be ... (1)

Kashgarinn (1036758) | more than 3 years ago | (#34650230)

How about _you_ go out there and do that?

There's no magical umbrella flying fairy godmother out there who'll do that. Normal people have to implement what they themselves want. If you want great teachers and co-teachers, then go ahead, make yourself available and dedicate yourself to the standard you'd like to see from teachers.

Otherwise, sit down and shut up.

Obama take note (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34648234)

This is why we are losing the Science advancement in the world. How can we compete when British children have evolved from worry about "eating your meat" to discovering how bees eat in 30 years. The US is doomed.

Re: Pink Floyd (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34648300)

... when British children have evolved from worry about "eating your meat" ...

That kind of evolution really happens when you REALLY want your pudding.

Idle? (5, Insightful)

Garth Smith (1720052) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648242)

This story has been tagged "idle" by Slashdot. That's an insult! What's wrong with our culture that even the geeks and nerds among us don't see education as important? These 8-10 year olds just had a better science lesson than most anything kids get today.

The best science class I ever had was in high school. My lab partner and I were given 2 test tubes with 2 types of bacteria. This was out of a possible 10 types. We were given 2 weeks to identify them and write a report on our methods. This was when I was 16! Not only did I learn a lot but that was just such a fucking cool assignment that I would consider it a much MUCH better experience than YEARS of mediocre science classes combined! Science was actually exciting, and I pray to Christ and the Buddha that these teachers get some respect soon before stupid takes over.

Re:Idle? (1)

Exclamation mark! (1961328) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648422)

Teachers prepare our children for the future, scientists make the world go forward and nobody respects or pays them yet people who get all the money and power are the annoying kids you used to beat up at school (politicians and bankers). WTF?

Re:Idle? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34648576)

I think you've got that backwards. Teachers and Scientists => Nerds/Geeks who often were victims of bullying do most of the intellectual work while the more "social", manipulative group became politicians and bankers. School is just a much more extreme form of real life.

Re:Idle? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34648430)

Because the educational system in the US is so fucked up that no one cares any more?

Especially the administrators and somewhat the teachers... Stupidest people on the planet, no joke.

Re:Idle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34649284)

No kidding. Apparently some of those administrators have mod points today!

Morons

Re:Idle? (3, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648540)

Agreed. By the looks of the paper they wrote, it seems that many of the better science fair projects ought to try submitting their results too.

10 years old: determine differences in plant growth between indoor lighting and natural sun light (never thought to do what these kids did though... oh well)

15: genetic transformation of bacteria w/ ampicillin resistance gene (successful)

19: Selenium hyperaccumulation research paper submitted and accepted by Science

I know I've done that experiment too but I forget exactly when it was. From what I've seen, it seems that a lot of the difference between a good education and a rather mediocre one is in what you decide to take if you have a choice. If you take genetics in high school, you'll probably get to do a lot of neat stuff compared to just trying to slide through school.

Of course a lot of the problem lies with the teachers who have often had their curiosity ruined in their school years like a lot of other people have. What needs to happen is geeks like us need to become teachers or at least mentors and inspire the next generation to do the neat stuff we did.

Re:Idle? (2)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649280)

Agreed. By the looks of the paper they wrote, it seems that many of the better science fair projects ought to try submitting their results too.

Whatever on earth for? Let's step back for a minute: Science (with a big S) is about advancing our collective knowledge. If you read the paper (PDF on the linked website), you'll find that what the kids did doesn't really fit into the regular pattern: They neither refer to nor make an effort to relate their results to the relevant literature. That implicitly devalues their contribution somewhat.

Of course, the fact that they are kids doing science is extremely interesting, as it gives insight into the nature of science itself. So in a sense this paper is an experiment itself, with the kids as the subjects and the experimental bees as stimulus.

But there's no reason to start filling journals with science fair projects and kids' experiments just because it's kids doing it. Whether it's a kid or a grad student or a professor doing the research isn't the point of science. The point is to advance collective knowledge in a timely and relevant way for current and future generations.

There are few examples in history of laymen (eg Michael Faraday) who were able to rise to this challenge. Most commonly, it requires many years of study just to get to the frontier of research, unless the field is so new that it is wide open. And even then, one is competing with other scientists who have lots of previous experience and can quickly catch up. By the nature of things that puts school kids at an insurmountable disadvantage, unless they are very, very lucky.

Re:Idle? (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649342)

Notice that I said some of the better ones, not all of them. Now in so far as actually writing science papers, that's why many undergrads etc. are co-authors with a phd/grad student assisting them. Their work doesn't need to be as disruptive to their chosen field as Faraday's work was to be useful to humanity it just needs to increase knowledge of a particular field enough to be worth writing and publishing in a reputable journal.

Re:Idle? (1)

Jimmy King (828214) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649510)

While I agree that you don't want to start filling scientific journals with stuff like this, what's wrong with the occasional one? Does doing something that gets kids excited about science and learning in general not, in the long run, likely increase our collective knowledge? Things like this encourage the children involved (and possibly many others who hear about it) to continue to think logically and take a scientific approach to thought and problem solving and may even result in a few being more likely to become actual scientists of some sort.

Re:Idle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34649710)

The internet allows you various ways of publishing - individual, collective, commentable.

Start a science journal for kids, by kids.

If you don't do it, rest assured that China, India or Brazil will do so after seeing this paper.

Re:Idle? (1)

shadowofwind (1209890) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649720)

I think probably some geeks make good teachers. Many do not, either because they're too egotistical to reach out to all personality types, or because they get bored out of their minds after a couple of years. Kids aren't just blank slates that get ruined by bad teachers. Its hard for a teacher not to get worn down by all the apathy. Also the pay is insanely bad for the first few years, until you climb the ladder. Even if you're not motivated at all by money, you still need enough to support your family. It doesn't really work unless you don't have kids, or you manage to stick with it for many years without the boredom and disillusionment getting to you.

Re:Idle? (1)

ian_from_brisbane (596121) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648614)

Method:

1. Drink sample A.
2. Feed sample B to partner.
3. Check each other for side effects.

Re:Idle? (1)

hort_wort (1401963) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648650)

Thank you sir for reminding me of the "how to measure the height of a building with a barometer" jokes. :D Similarly, most of my methods to identify the bacteria would be infecting people or other obnoxious choices.

Re:Idle? (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649102)

I pray to Christ and the Buddha that these teachers get some respect soon before stupid takes over.

I got bad news for you. Stupid has already taken over. Think of Stupid like Hitler, but before Poland and the Jews.

It might not be that bad. I watched a documentary about the future and you get a 20 piece bucket of chicken with a hooker. Family style at no extra charge.

Re:Idle? (1)

evanbd (210358) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649308)

We had a chem lab like that. Final lab in the honors chem class. 10 test tubes, each with unknown ionic solution. There was a list of possible cations and a list of possible anions. Oh, and be careful with the quantities, you only got one test tube worth. It was an excellent lab.

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Finally... (4, Funny)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648302)

It's written entirely in the kids' voices, complete with sound effects (...) and figures drawn by hand in colored pencil.

... a scientific write-up Republicans will be able to understand! :-)

Re:Finally... (1)

Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648962)

... a scientific write-up Republicans will be able to understand! :-)

So does this mean we'll have them declaring that they don't want 8 year olds taught in school?

Re:Finally... (1)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649218)

... a scientific write-up Republicans will be able to understand! :-)

So does this mean we'll have them declaring that they don't want 8 year olds taught in school?

Not an issue - these were British children. The Department of Education has been ensuring that no children have been educated in the US for the past 30 years.

Re:Finally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34650178)

"...The Department of Education has been ensuring that no children have been educated in the US for the past 30 years...."

That's all right. When these kids are old enough, we'll simply buy them in and bring them across to the US if we need them.

Having the Dollar as a world reserve currency is great. It means that we get to sit on our fat asses, and any time we want something from the rest of the world, we just print more dollars and buy it. We haven't contributed anything to the world from home-grown US resources for the past 50 years, but we still head the Nobel prize lists by stealing other's resources - money is a very good substitute for everything .....

Re:Finally... (0)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649432)

You're right... Democrats won't be able to fake this level of intellect, so there will be nobody to spin it, confusing the matter.

Great job (3, Informative)

cvtan (752695) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Fair enough... (1)

o_ferguson (836655) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648314)

...but what's their Erds number?

Re:Fair enough... (1)

o_ferguson (836655) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648364)

Also: why can't Slashdot properly render the name Erdos if it has the right accents? Do better, slashdot.

Emily Rosa (4, Informative)

Genrou (600910) | more than 3 years ago | (#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 (2)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648368)

Yes, but the fact is, it was really written by the kids teachers.

Re:Emily Rosa (1)

Confusador (1783468) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648456)

I certainly hope that at least the final revision and formatting was the work of the teacher, if not the majority of the writing, but if the kids did a significant part of the work they deserve authorship credit.

Re:Emily Rosa (3, Informative)

Garth Smith (1720052) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648500)

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.

Re:Emily Rosa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34649118)

Well, in "real" science it's all too common for some lowly undergrad to write an entire paper only for the department head to claim first authorship despite not contributing anything. This doesn't seem much worse.

Re:Emily Rosa (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34649320)

The Vatican has been conducting scientific studies on 9 year olds using Therapeutic touch since they were Incorporated in 010.

Kudos (2)

euphemistic (1850880) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648426)

Kudos to the school here, and Beau Lotto too. They managed to achieve something absolutely amazing, educational and potentially inspirational for the kids in this class. It was a fantastic idea, and hopefully will advance the cause of science education in schools.

Difficulties getting it published? (4, Interesting)

RossR (94714) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648434)

Sounds like it was hard to published it on its merits alone. The last line of the paper is a bit cryptic.

"The project was funded privately by Lottolab Studio, as the referees argued that young people cannot do real science."

What does the funding source have to do with the referees' prejudices? Was some extra funding needed to resolve their concerns?

Personally, I am going to look for an excuse to cite their paper.

Re: Difficulties getting it published? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34648552)

Dr. Lotto is one of the paper authors. A cursory glance at the author list suggests that the primary school class includes one of his children. He probably applied for a research council grant for the study, got turned down, paid for it himself, and added the last line as a poke in the eye to the research council referees.

Re: Difficulties getting it published? (4, Interesting)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648562)

Personally, I am going to look for an excuse to cite their paper.

Here's one for you (and for commercial greenhouse-based farmers with multiple crops per greenhouse). Can the effectiveness of bee-based pollination inside greenhouses be increased by using similarly-patterned layouts in each greenhouse, then transporting "trained" hives from greenhouse to greenhouse? Can pollination-runs be accomplished faster with pattern-trained bees, thus allowing one hive to effectively pollinate more greenhouses per week? If bees "trained" to specific locations in a pattern head to that pattern preferentially, specific crops can be targeted.

"Cycle the outer-circle bees through the greenhouses, the roma tomatoes are ready for pollination and we don't want the bees wasting time on the pepper plants in the inner zone."

Research into application into cost savings.

Pure Research is Not Dead (4, Insightful)

Wingit (98136) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648436)

Brilliant work and pure science for the sake of science. It is not earth shattering news, but is exactly what science is meant to bring to the human experience. The life of the children involved is forever changed. Now some of them will go on to discover more things that are right under our nose and write about it intelligently. Few will care but, in the end, we all benefit.

Re:Pure Research is Not Dead (3, Insightful)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648670)

Few will care but, in the end, we all benefit.

Screw the people that don't care about engaging kids in science. America is sadly deficient in this area. We're overly preocupied with our false reality (tv) to appreciate the need for kids to learn science and math. I love the little bit at the end:

The project was funded privately by Lottolab Studio, as the referees argued that young people cannot do real science.

What they did was commendable even if the teacher had to transcribe their work.

Peer Reviewed (1)

Compulawyer (318018) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648494)

By other 8 year olds?

Re:Peer Reviewed (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649684)

By other 8 year olds?

No, by other poopers and booger-eaters.

Jot me outta my slumber (1)

Sattwic (545957) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648526)

Oh Gosh! I am shamed by these 8 year olds that I will have to dust off all my data and prepare manuscripts to send in for publishing!

I cannot condone this (4, Insightful)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648560)

I think it's great that these students are excited about science and were able to participate in a learning experience like this, but after reading the paper it's clear to me this was published only because the children are 8; the true value of this paper is for educators in the sciences looking to motivate children through unique projects.

I hate to be a Negative Nancey, but if the current paper (with more formal language of course) were submitted for by a college graduate it would be rejected outright. The paper begins by asserting that the ability to problem solve is a sign of extreme intelligence, and further conflates pattern recognition and intelligence. The methods seem sound (control, rigorous data taking) but there is no statistical analysis of the data to show correlations, just a statement of "more did this therefore..." Further they make the claim that no one has ever done this particular experiment, yet a quick search [google.com] yield over 50,000 articles pertaining to pattern recognition in bees. Yet nothing like this was ever conducted? Seriously? Given this prior research, it is their obligation to show how their research is unique and different, and further why it is important. I realize the paper states that the students couldn't do this since the language in the literature is far above their level, but it's just another reason showing this paper was published because of their age, not because of the work.

Again, good on the students for having fun and enjoying science, but I'm a firm believer that results should stand on their own irrespective of the experimenter's ages.

Re:I cannot condone this (1)

AshtangiMan (684031) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648660)

Given your assertions as true I agree. The credibility of the journals is important, and doing this seems to bring it down. As well, by inflating what the kids have accomplished they have done them a dissevice like awarding everyone a trophy. Being published in the media would have been more appropriate, with some kind of acknowledgement from the journal. The scientific community could well be served by establishing a schoolastic version, which could do wonders for primary education. A way to celebritize those who excel in something other than sports or spelling.

Re:I cannot condone this (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648748)

Totally agree, but run out of mod points.

According to the reviwers (Re:I cannot condone.. ) (5, Informative)

prakslash (681585) | more than 3 years ago | (#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:According to the reviwers (Re:I cannot condone. (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649324)

That's great, but it's the researcher's job to state this, and not the reviewer's. If I had reviewed this paper, I would have told the authors the same, and sent it back. With the added changes yeah, it would probably make a great paper to accept, but certainly not in its current form. The comments you linked are closer to what the paper should have been.

Re:I cannot condone this (3, Interesting)

gringer (252588) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649108)

Scientists don't need to be statisticians to be able to do good research. They also don't need to be good writers, or good reviewers. These things help, but shouldn't be necessary in order to get results out to the world.

I, for one, am glad that this paper was published. It gives the scientific community as a whole the opportunity to critique this, rather than just the reviewing panel. It looks like the review process worked well in this case — the investigation that was carried out seems reasonable, and I very much doubt that the published version is the first version that the journal editors saw, even though they have kept in some of the cutesy language.

Re:I cannot condone this (2)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649314)

Scientists don't need to be statisticians to be able to do good research. Scientists don't need to be statisticians to be able to do good research.

No, but they would be better researchers for it. In my opinion faulty conclusions derived from bogus statistics is one of the worst problems in science. Next to that is no statistical analysis at all.

It gives the scientific community as a whole the opportunity to critique this, rather than just the reviewing panel.

There is a different between doing experiments and doing research. Experiments are the fun part of science: thinking of ideas, designing tests, recording data. Research is a step further, and involves background review of the literature, and significant analysis and interpretation of the data. It's clear that the students did experiments, and very good ones at that. But they didn't do research.

Research gets published, experiments do not. If you want to publish experiments, there's always the Internet, where you can make claims that bees are intelligent problem solvers capable of solving complex puzzles. I, however, don't want to see this in my journals just because the paper has a "how adorable" backstory.

Re:I cannot condone this (1)

gringer (252588) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649736)

In my opinion faulty conclusions derived from bogus statistics is one of the worst problems in science. Next to that is no statistical analysis at all.

It is a huge problem, and practically everyone does that in the field of biology, even in published papers. Anyone who accepts a 5% threshold as significant should understand that such a threshold means that 5% of their "significant" results are statistical flukes.

I agree with rejecting research that is not appropriate for the journal subject (e.g. rejecting this study for AJHG, because it's not human and not genetics), but I'm less convinced about the statistics angle. There's no point in forcing people to include and evaluate statistics that they don't understand. The problem can't be fixed by refusing to publish research because significance levels haven't been determined (or are too high).

Re:I cannot condone this (1)

gringer (252588) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649750)

It is a huge problem, and practically everyone does that in the field of biology, even in published papers.

Aha, finally found what I was looking for when I constructed this sentence:

Why Most Published Research Findings Are False [plosmedicine.org]

Re:I cannot condone this (1)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649406)

it seems to me that few of the children really understood the content of the paper, writing it in children voices seems like a gimmick to hide the fact that most of the real thought work was done by an adult (probably their teacher).
a good thing, however, that will come out of this is that it might get a couple of students interested in science.

Re:I cannot condone this (1)

dominious (1077089) | more than 3 years ago | (#34650084)

yeah, you must be really fun at parties.

I have published a couple of papers. And with all of my statistical analysis and academia BS, at least I find this paper much more inspiring than my own. Science is not only about statistics you know. This paper can have more impact than you think.

Blackawton ? (3, Informative)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648684)

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.

Re:Blackawton ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34648824)

The listed first author is "P. S. Blackawton". This is obviously Primary School Blackawton, listed as first author precisely to avoid the first-author issue.

Re:Blackawton ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34648834)

Umm, the first author _is_ the public school

Re:Blackawton ? (2)

flak89 (809703) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648986)

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.

While I agree that the absence of source may be a problem in most cases of publishing a scientific paper, the corresponding author explain in the abstract why it would not be a good idea to publish this article with references. The research is still original, 8yo or not, and well at least they do not try to hide the fact that there is no references.

Re:Blackawton ? (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649626)

Do you know what happens when I, as a Ph.D. candidate, submit a paper with no references and smiley faces in the text? It gets sent back with comments that say "no background or literature review, please revise. Please consider the tone of your paper." The fact that research is original does not guarantee publication.

Re:Blackawton ? (2)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 3 years ago | (#34650036)

Literature review isn't necessary in all papers. If your professor says different he is most likely wrong. Literature review is used primarily to support assumptions or gaps in your experiment design, or to refute previous findings. To refute previous findings your experiment must surely include and account for those previous findings. If your hypothesis and experiment makes no assumptions then a literature review included in the final document is mostly pointless. Even if that is false, there are countless papers where previous results and literature are cited and the cited material is finally declared false because nobody cared to check the cited material for many years! as for the "tone" of your written material, well, honestly, if that matters then your supervisors are idiots. A scientific paper does not have to be written in the passive voice, avoid personal pronouns, or have a specific "tone".

Re:Blackawton ? (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 3 years ago | (#34650054)

Do you know what happens when I, as a Ph.D. candidate, submit a paper with no references and smiley faces in the text?.

Also, based on your comment above, perhaps you should stop avoiding placing smiley faces in your text ;) If you stopped avoiding them, then by your own assertion your papers would be accepted more often

Re:Blackawton ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34649316)

Are you referring to the first author named "P.S. Blackawton"? That essentially stands for "The Public School of Blackawaton", not a person! This was how the teachers/staff were able to show their contribution without reducing the credit of all the students that they did want to be listed directly.

Re:Blackawton ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34650016)

It is NOT repeat NOT the Public School of Blackawton.
Sigh.
It is the Primary School of Blackawton. Yes it is a State Funded School but it is not a Public School.
Here in the UK, a Public School is what you yanks call a Private School.
Eton, Rugby, Winchester etc are all Public Schools. They have been know that way since before your country was even discovered.

Fail, take 200 lines. Write down in perfect italic script,
"A Primary School in Great Britain is not a Public School"

It is not wonder the US Educaton System is going down the pan. (Ours will soon follow apart from places like this)

Having not RTFA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34648814)

Having not RTFA, I don't know whether to congratulate the kids or to condemn the journal.

Peer review (2)

BenBoy (615230) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648852)

Peer reviewed? So then, it was reviewed by 8 year olds? How hard is that?

Big Deal (2)

HeLLFiRe1151 (743468) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648862)

My 8 y.o boy shoots rubber darts at my LCD TV.

Re:Big Deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34650248)

My 8 y.o boy shoots rubber darts at my LCD TV.

My 8 y.o. boy isn't allowed to use rubber darts. Steel darts aren't forbidden, strictly speaking, but then there'd better be a good explanation why the tips aren't tungsten. Steel may bend when pulling it out of LCD screen (or bone).

Eight year olds, Dude (2)

rackrent (160690) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649674)

no message. I'm out of my element.

Peer Review (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34649880)

If only...
"
Sorry Mrs. Frizzle,

The paper failed the peer review process on the grounds that it appears to have been written by 8 year-olds.

--Scientific American
"

But will it pass peer review? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34649908)

http://www.theonion.com/articles/fifthgrade-science-paper-doesnt-stand-up-to-peer-r,1320/

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