Primary School Students Conduct and Publish a Study on Bees

From Scientific American:

Low-grade-science-primary-school_1 Twenty-five primary school students in the U.K. are the authors of a new study on how bees perceive color and patterns. In fact, the children devised the research, conducted the experiments, analyzed the data and wrote up the results. Led by neuroscientist Beau Lotto, of University College London, the students found that bees can use both color and location to remember where nectar-producing flowers are. “It‘s an original discovery, quite apart from who did it,” Lotto says. As part of the U.K.'s National Science and Engineering Week, Lotto traveled to the Blackawton Primary School in Devon—approximately 320 kilometers southwest of London—to show the children exactly how science works. Lotto had previously studied perception in bees and knew that the insects lent themselves to simple but profound experiments, perfect for young investigators.

Lotto began the study by asking his 25 eight- to 10-year-old collaborators what questions they would like to ask of a buff-tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris). The students discussed these questions with Lotto and collectively refined the questions they would like to ask the species. One of their questions—Do bumblebees use heat to help find nectar?—was the subject of a 2006 paper in Nature. (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group.) The students, however, were not aware of this; all they knew was that it seemed like an interesting question.

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