Abstract | Introduction | Methods | Results
Discussion | Literature | Acknowledgements | Other

According to the JEI website, in the discussion section,

“the authors should discuss the results and their interpretation of the results.” The JEI editors also note that the authors should:

      • summarize the experimental results and draw conclusions from the experimental data
      • discuss factors that could have influenced the results, such as sources of error or bias in interpretation
      • address the significance of the results
      • discuss remaining scientific questions and/or potential future experiments.

The JEI editors add that,

“it is important that the authors draw appropriate and reasonable conclusions from their scientific data.”

In our class, we will create a discussion section that consists of six major sub-sections:

A. Describe your major findings (or answer your research question)
B. Interpret and/or Explain (your major findings)
C. Compare (if/when possible, your major findings to others)
D. List the limitations of your study and describe problems you encountered in the methods
E. List your unanswered questions and propose future research that you and/or others should consider doing
F. Conclude by briefly and concisely re-stating your major findings or re-answering your research question…also, be sure to and re-interpret and/or re-explain your major findings or answer

Here’s an example of a Discussion section from the Blackawton Bees Experiment, which was designed, performed and written up by 10-year-old science students in England…


Honey Bee

Blackawton Bees

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 (and if we are lucky we will be able to get them to do Sudoku in a couple of years’ time). In this experiment, we trained bees to solve a particular puzzle. The puzzle was go to blue if surrounded by yellow, but yellow if surrounded by blue.

Test 1 showed that the bees learned to solve this puzzle. We know this because the test results showed that they mostly went to the flowers that they were supposed to go to, because those were the ones that had contained a sugar reward before. However, we also noticed that the bees solved the puzzle in different ways, and that some were more clever than others. Two bees preferred yellow and two others preferred blue flowers. The B bee was best at understanding the pattern in the first test, because it had the most correct answers compared to incorrect answers. It also went both to correct yellow and correct blue flowers, although it preferred the blue flowers.

What is important about this puzzle is that there is more than one strategy the bees could use to solve it. One strategy would be to use two rules: (i) go to the middle four flowers in each panel, and (ii) ignore the colour. Another strategy would be to go to yellow if surrounded by blue or blue if surrounded by yellow. They could also learn to avoid  the surrounding flowers, and as a result only go to the middle flowers. Or they could go to the fewest number of coloured flowers in each panel. Of course they could also have chosen randomly, and they might get them right or they might get them wrong. Or they could have just gone to a colour, but then they would not have solved the whole puzzle, only half of it.

Test 2 tested whether the bee had learned to go to the middle of each panel and ignored the colour. If this was true then they should have gone to the green flowers. If they had learned to go to only middle blue and yellow flowers, then they should have gone either to the surrounding blue and yellow flowers or no flowers at all. The results tell us that three of the bees preferred to go to the colours that they had learned before, and avoided the middle green flowers. Two of the bees, however, mainly went to the middle flowers, including the B bee, which went to both correct yellow and correct blue flowers during the first (control) test. So they had learned to solve the puzzle using different rules.

Test 3 also showed that one of the rules was not just to go to any middle flower, as they rarely went to the middle flowers, or to go to the flowers that had the fewest colours in each panel, because they did not prefer the corner flowers. Instead, they seemed to select the flowers at random, but funnily continued to go to their ‘favourite’ colour.

We conclude that bees can solve puzzles by learning complex rules, but sometimes they make mistakes. They can also work together (indirectly) to solve a puzzle. Which means that bees have personality and have their personal ‘likings’. We also learned that the bees could use the ‘shape’ of the different patterns of individual flowers to decidewhich flowers to go to. So they are quite clever, because they can memorize a pattern. This might help themgetmore pollen fromflowers by learning which flowers might be best for them without wasting energy. In real life thismight mean that they collect information and remember that information when going into different fields. So if some plants die out, they can learn to find nectar in another type of flower. 

Before doing these experiments we did not really think a lot about bees and how they are as smart as us. We also did not think about the fact that without bees we would not survive, because bees keep the flowers going. So it is important to understand bees. We discovered how fun it was to train bees. This is also cool because you do not get to train bees everyday. We like bees. Science is cool and fun because you get to do stuff that no one has ever done before. (Bees—seem to—think!)

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