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Cornell Lab of Ornithology


i,scientist students publish in Royal Society

Novel research on bee behavior, conducted by youth, just published by the Royal Society.

i,scientist students publish in Royal Society

Flickr photo by krayker

"This experiment is important, because, as far as we know, no one in history (including adults) has done this experiment before. It tells us that bees can learn to solve puzzles..." (Blackawton et al. 2010).

The Royal Society this month published original work designed, conducted, and written up by a group of 8-year-olds outside of London, UK. The paper (available free online) intentionally reads in the voice of the students who wrote it, presenting not just their work but their own narrative interpretation of the experience.

This inquiry, guided by Dr. Beau Lotto and educator Dave Strudwick, is part of a larger research partnership called i,scientist. Project activities help students become comfortable with the "space of uncertainty" to help generate curiosity, creativity, learning, and authentic scientific discovery.

Dr. Lotto has recently relocated his Lab to the Science Museum in London, where it takes the form of installations engaging youth and the public in researching "how and why we see what we do." While pushing the boundaries of what might be called citizen science, this approach offers new ways of thinking about encouraging inquiry, partnering with institutions and publishers, and research opportunities in public spaces.

This work helps shine a light on other projects engaging students... and adults... in researching their own questions. Bee researcher Gretchen LeBuhn, inspired by a student's question, "do bees leave footprints?" is working to build project infrastructure to support participants' own research through The Great Sunflower Project. And for one more insect-focused example, the Monarch Larvae Monitoring Project has received funding for an initiative entitled, "Driven to Discover: Enabling Authentic Inquiry through Citizen Science" (details in the MLMP newsletter).

How does your project engage and support participants' own inquiries? Email us!

Citizen science, volunteer monitoring, participatory action research... this site supports organizers of all initiatives where public participants are involved in scientific research.

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