quote:Getting the paper published was a struggle as well. In particular, several journals got stuck on the fact that the paper doesn’t cite any references. Lotto says they left the references out because the historical context wasn’t what inspired the kids, anyway.
The kids learned something about bee behaviour, and also something about human behaviour and politics, it seems.
I think it is facinating to see how learning can be fun when you focus on teaching process rather than collections of factoids more amenable to standardized tests.
Posts: 7707 | Registered: Oct 2004
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To be honest, Drake, I can see the other journals' point. Their goal was to science, and just as importantly to contribute to science. That means that they need to recognize and build on the contributions of others. References are a very important part of the scientific process. After all, if each person was just studying what they thought was interesting without worrying about what other people had done, then science would be nothing more than reinventing the wheel a million times over. The kids themselves seem to recognize this, as stated in their paper:
"We also discovered that science is cool and fun because you get to do stuff that no one has ever done before."
"This experiment is important, because, as far as we know, no one in history (including adults) has done this experiment before."
How do they know no one has done this unless the professor told them that? And how did the professor know unless he searched for it? Yes, it makes sense that the kids couldn't find that for themselves. And yes, the prof's right that this is still science in its pure form. But would it hurt for the prof to find related studies, talk to the kids about them, and ask the kids how theirs was different? I don't think it's a dealbreaker like some of the other journals apparently did, but I think it would have been better if the kids could prove that this was something no one had ever thought of doing before.
That said, this is a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing, Wayward Son!
Personally, I'd love to see something similar to this be a standard for all schools. I'm thinking 5th to 6th grade. I think I've mentioned it before, but if not, I think schools should give more focus on what science is and how to think like a scientist rather than reciting all these facts. I don't remember much of what my 5th grade science class was like. All I remember is that we started specializing later (earth science/chemistry in 6th, bio in 7th, physics in 8th). So 5th would be perfect for a project like this. Teach kids that science is interesting, exciting, and that there's a way to think about it, and then go into the details. It should work out much better.
That's the goal of science fairs and the like, I know, but how often does that work? Most kids just mix baking soda and vinegar together and have their parents write it up. A group activity could work much better.
Personally, as a kid who was always interested in science, I seem to recall getting annoyed when I felt I was being patronized. I wanted to do REAL science, not just learn about it in a kids book. The best example I can think of is chromatography. All those chemistry sets and demonstrations and things included a strip of chromatography paper that you were supposed to mark with black ink and let it touch the water. Then the water would come up and separate the ink. Hooray!
Actually, I thought that was boring and stupid. So it's a mixture of inks. Big deal. Real scientists don't do stuff like that. Real scientists don't use chromatography paper. Of course, now I know that you can't take two steps in a chemistry lab without bumping into some sort of chromatography setup. But the books and demos and stuff never mentioned that part. Nobody ever told me how useful it could be. It was all just "look at the pretty colors."
I've struggled with that problem when doing chemistry demos for kids as well. Sure, you have to wow them with setting things on fire to keep their interest. But when they do experiments, they have to be simple by necessity. The requirements for the chemistry merit badge in Boy Scouts, for example, tell them to do things like boil a bottle of salt water to show distillation or filter sand and water. I just worry that those sorts of things are boring to kids, and we just can't show them why people get paid 6 figures a year to worry about distillation or filtration.
A setup like this wouldn't solve all the problems, and would bore some students, but would go a long way towards instilling interest in science. Of course, our standards-based schooling would never go for it
Posts: 538 | Registered: Mar 2004
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Mariner, I reject your argument. Not for any sound reasons that can be explained logically, but because you managed to make a post that long without saying "Awww" at least once
Posts: 503 | Registered: Oct 2010
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