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Blackawton bees
December 22, 2010 3:54 AM   Subscribe

A new paper about bees in Biology Letters, Blackawton bees concludes with "We also discovered that science is cool and fun because you get to do stuff that no one has ever done before." The authors are 25 children between 8 and 10 from the Blackawton Public School, becoming the youngest scientist to be published in a Royal Society journal.
posted by rpn (16 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
This will give a new meaning to the peer-reviewed journal.
posted by three blind mice at 4:32 AM on December 22, 2010


Largely a bogus story.

So students successfully clear hurdle lowered specifically for them.

It's a great idea educationally but the breathless PR writeups stink of the very worst sort of SEO spam.
posted by srboisvert at 4:34 AM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


25 children averaging 9 years old means that the collective author is 225 years old. Possibly the oldest author ever to be published in a Royal Society journal.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:40 AM on December 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Not everyone agreed. The editors of several top journals, including Nature, Science, Current Biology and PLoS ONE loved the idea but passed on publishing the paper because it lacked references and was written in kid-speak. But Lotto was determined. “The aim was to not get it published simply as a kid’s project, but for its scientific contribution,” he says.

To that end, he asked four independent experts in vision to review the paper, and only one questioned its scientific merit. That helped to convince Chris Frith, an editor for Biology Letters. Frith agreed to publish the work after soliciting four more reviews (all positive) and the commentary from Maloney and Hempel.
These are pretty crappy reasons to decline a paper. Maybe the guy behind this project should get the kids interested in citizen science instead.

inb4 baking soda volcano
posted by DU at 4:48 AM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks. That's really really sweet. The notion that a primary school science teacher might be this original and dedicated, and the kids this inventive and hardworking is a whole bucket of wonderful.
posted by Ahab at 4:54 AM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


The authors are 25 children ... becoming the youngest scientist to be published in a Royal Society journal.

They formed a science Voltron!
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:57 AM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


In the UK, public schools are private schools, because that's how we roll.

Blackawton Primary School is a state school.
posted by Helga-woo at 5:31 AM on December 22, 2010


Ah,Kid's today - when they're older and more cynical they'll see just how funny this is.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:48 AM on December 22, 2010


"Largely a bogus story.

So students successfully clear hurdle lowered specifically for them."

If you have an argument that relates to why this isn't a valid piece of scientific research, you may make it. At the moment you appear to be threadshitting in quite a remarkably misanthropic way.
posted by jaduncan at 5:50 AM on December 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


So who read the paper?

Sure, it's written in "kidspeak" but it's scientifically designed, with a hypothesis and outcome measures and all that.

Moreover, what a great way to get kids engaged and feel like they are actually doing something meaningful.
posted by gaspode at 6:21 AM on December 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


"passed on publishing the paper because it lacked references and was written in kid-speak"

These are pretty crappy reasons to decline a paper.


they seem like valid reasons to me.
posted by alk at 6:57 AM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you have an argument that relates to why this isn't a valid piece of scientific research, you may make it. At the moment you appear to be threadshitting in quite a remarkably misanthropic way.

Yes I am a misanthrope but that is beside the point.

I've also had papers both rejected and accepted by journals. Also beside the point.

My point is that you are being played.

Please note that these journals DO NOT make allowances for english as second language authors. There are accepted standards of communication that journal articles have to pass. In this case they gave the kids a pass. Lowered Standard. Note as well that there is clearly one author who is older than 9 years unless children get positions at UCL. Look up RB Lotto. You will find that the project leader is as real scientist (whose son is in the class). As the corresponding author you would expect him to show some academic responsibility and fix up the language. Unless of course it is just a stunt.

Seriously, this is a great idea educationally (the science part at least - I am obviously also not so keen on the pretend you did this science project yourself part ) but a crap one for a journal. It is just the usual science fair parental fraud done up as a feel good press release so people can all go "Oh isn't that cute! Toddler nuclear physicists!". I dislike it when the hard working kids who try and do stuff on their own are cheated out of science fair awards by kids who have their parents do there work and I dislike it here.

Should we all give these kids the mandatory TED standing ovation now for having chosen to be classmates of a kid who chose the dad he did?
posted by srboisvert at 7:09 AM on December 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


Third-Grade Scientists Successfully Vaporize Water
GRESHAM, OR—In a breakthrough that has electrified the world's 10-and-under scientific community, Mrs. Wagner's third-grade class successfully vaporized water under controlled classroom conditions Monday.

"Um, the coolest thing was when we got to light the fire that made the water disappear," said Jake Squirek, 9, a member of the Gresham Elementary School experimental-research team. "Then it boiled, then it turned into steam, which is the gas form of water."

"Clouds are like steam, only not hot," said fellow scientist Pam McKee, 8. "Water is called H20 in science."
posted by Rhaomi at 9:38 AM on December 22, 2010



Please note that these journals DO NOT make allowances for english as second language authors. There are accepted standards of communication that journal articles have to pass. In this case they gave the kids a pass. Lowered Standard. Note as well that there is clearly one author who is older than 9 years unless children get positions at UCL. Look up RB Lotto. You will find that the project leader is as real scientist (whose son is in the class). As the corresponding author you would expect him to show some academic responsibility and fix up the language. Unless of course it is just a stunt.


OF COURSE IT'S A STUNT. Of course an identical study wouldn't be accepted if it was written by grad students. That doesn't make it not cool.

Are you really worried that scientific journals are about to get overrun by elementary schoolers? Cause otherwise it seems like you just like pissing on a really cool school project, lead by a really cool parent, and helped along by a really cool journal editor.

I'm a full time researcher these days, and I for one welcome the kids to the field (get out while you still can, kids!!!)
posted by auto-correct at 9:54 AM on December 22, 2010


"Water is called H20 in science."

It's H2O, you stupid little stupid.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:51 PM on December 22, 2010


The definitive Bee scientist, for close observation, is Jean Henri Fabre:

Others again have reproached me with my style, which has not the solemnity, nay, better, the dryness of the schools. They fear lest a page that is read without fatigue should not always be the expression of the truth. Were I to take their word for it, we are profound only on condition of being obscure.
posted by ovvl at 6:55 PM on December 23, 2010


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