Science journals can be a bit... well, dense. To help bring more young people into the world of science and scientific research, a new science journal has been created, and it's by kids, for kids.
Frontiers for Young Minds is made up of editors ages 5 to 18 who learn the ropes of peer review from working scientists. With 18 young minds and 38 adult authors and associate editors lending their expertise, the journal—an offshoot of the open-access publisher and academic research network Frontiers—includes such articles as "Why sleep?" ("Sleep has to be really important since we cannot live without it and spend so much time doing it") and "Our brain enjoys making friends" ("Part of the reason human brains are so complex is that our interactions with others are so complex").
With a mission to engage a budding generation of scientists, UC Berkeley professor Robert Knight created the kid-friendly version of Frontiers and serves as its editor-in-chief. The young editors review and approve submissions, which are written so kids can understand them—"clearly, concisely and with enthusiasm!" the guidelines suggest. Many of the scientists who provide guidance are academics, hailing from Harvard to Rio de Janeiro's D'Or Institute for Research and Education. The pieces are peer reviewed by one of the young editors, but to protect their identities only their first names are published along with the authors' names.
"As a child, I really loved science programs focused on children, such as Bill Nye," Ryan Morrie told Fast Company. A graduate student at UC Berkeley's molecular and cell biology department, Morrie got involved with Frontiers for Young Minds in August to make science accessible to a young audience. "The articles are reviewed by children themselves, which was a particularly appealing part of writing for the journal, as it not only exposes children to the science, but also lets them see how science is regularly reviewed and published."
After submitting an article with fellow grad student Anna Vlasits about how animals see, the editor Henry, a 12-year-old from California, let the pair know that he found the description of photoreceptors, or cells in the retina, confusing. "This feedback was really helpful in tailoring our article to the target audience, and after we made the necessary changes to the article, Henry approved the new version for publication," Morrie added.