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Students as researchers

Over 20 years ago I started working with students as evaluators . Kids worked with me to design and carry out evaluations of specific programs in which they were involved. While I provided technical assistance; these were their evaluations. The students determined the questions to be asked and how they would get the answers. They collected and analyzed the data and presented their data-based conclusions and recommendations to the program directors. This was real--we only worked with program people made a commitment either to implement the students' recommendations or to explain why they wouldn't or couldn't do so.

The work was good and the experience useful to all in great part because the work was real and the students were in charge. I always thought if it worked in evaluation, it would work in research. It turns out I was right.

Blackawton Bees is an article published in Biology Letters by 25 8 to 10 year olds and a couple of grown ups.

Their results:

We discovered that bumble-bees can use a combination of colour and spatial relationships in deciding which colour of flower to forage from. We also discovered that science is cool and fun because you get to do stuff that no one has ever done before.

A companion paper explained:

The research was conceived, carried out, summarized and written up by a class of 8 to 10 years olds in Devon, England under the light supervision of a teacher and a research scientist. The result is a significant piece of research giving a novel insight in the colour and pattern vision of the bee. Using well-established experimental procedures that were invented by John Lubbock [5] for the study of colour vision in bees and later implemented by a Nobel Prize winner [6], the results provide convincing evidence that bees can transpose between learned colour, pattern and spatial cues when encountering changes in a coloured scene.

Students as researchers, now that's a concept!