Do bees prefer certain colors or shapes in the flowers from which they forage? And can they learn on the fly to go to certain colors or shapes that prove to be more lucrative? That was the question for the students of Blackawton Primary School in Devon, England. And by devising a clever experiment to find out, these kids became the youngest authors ever to have a study published in a journal of Britain's Royal Society. From Ed Yong:
Their paper, based on fieldwork carried out in a local churchyard, describes how bumblebees can learn which flowers to forage from with more flexibility than anyone had thought. It’s the culmination of a project called ‘i, scientist’, designed to get students to actually carry out scientific researchthemselves. The kids received some support from Beau Lotto, a neuroscientist at UCL, and David Strudwick, Blackawton’s head teacher. But the work is all their own.
The class (including Lotto’s son, Misha) came up with their own questions, devised hypotheses, designed experiments, and analysed data. They wrote the paper themselves (except for the abstract), and they drew all the figures with colouring pencils.
For all the details about this class experiment turned published study, check out the rest of Ed's post at Not Exactly Rocket Science
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: Beau Lotto, the scientist who helped the Blackawton kids with their bee study, explains the neuroscience of optical illusions. Not Exactly Rocket Science: Turning Secondary School Children Into Research Scientists
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