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The Big Bumblebee Discovery

Earlier this year, EDF Energy and the British Science Association launched year one of the Great EDF Energy Experiment - a five year initiative to encourage young people to get hands-on science experience and contribute to scientific study. This year, the experiment is led by ecologists Dr Helen Roy and Dr Michael Pocock for the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. The researchers are exploring the effects of environmental change on the natural world, including bumblebees and other pollinating insects. The Great EDF Energy Experiment will give young people a chance to contribute to this research.

Dr Roy and Dr Pocock will ask thousands of people to help the research, by collecting scientific data. By encouraging a little effort from a large number of individuals across the UK, data can be collected quickly and efficiently.

The citizen science approach is an exciting new way for schools to engage young people in science – as it provides the opportunity for students to contribute to real scientific studies, not just by filling in surveys about themselves, to provide researchers with data, but by acting as a scientist to collect original data about the natural environment.  

In this way, young pupils, parents and teachers will be encouraged to engage with science in a new way – and deliver a real world insight into the work of environmental scientists, breaking down the perception of science only being relevant to men in white coats, in a laboratory.

Dr Roy and Dr Pocock will collate the observations, and will use the data to discover how environmental changes impact on insect populations, an area of research that could have huge potential impact of our understanding of the future of food security, and climate change.

To find out how to get involved, visit the Pod - part of EDF Energy's education programme.

You can read more from Helen and Michael about the value of citizen science on our online publication, People & Science.