January 3, 2018
Top Science Stories of 2017 – what would our students say?
Posted by Laura Guertin
The end of the calendar year is a time when many lists are published with the best/worst of stories and events from the previous twelve months. The science world also engages in this practice, publishing the top science headlines from various outlets. I have generated similar blog posts for top science stories of 2015 and 2016. Here, I am reproducing that post and updating the list to some of the collections of top science news stories from 2017, not just as a reminder to us of what has happened in our field (going as far back as two semesters, into the previous academic year!), but as a suggested topic to kick off the Spring 2018 semester with students.
If you ask your students what were the major scientific accomplishments in 2017, what would they say? Are they aware of what happened in the previous year, as well as the major concerns and challenges in the sciences? Depending upon the subject area you are teaching, how many (or how few) top stories are in the geosciences, marine sciences, paleontology, etc.? An even bigger question… should students know about what is currently happening in our discipline, and does the answer to this question vary for science and non-science majors?
On the first day of class in 2018, I am going to give each of my students a blank scrap of paper and ask them to write down what they remember as the top five science stories were for 2017 – then I’ll ask them to list any additional stories that relate to our course. I’ll have them write their name on the paper and collect it so I can see what “current event literacy” my students have coming into the course. Since one of the goals of my courses is to highlight recent science news, it will be interesting to see how students answer this same question when I ask it again at the end of the semester for comparison.
This modification could be a fun way to start… what did scientists predict would be the big science stories for 2017? Nature gave us a 2017 sneak peek: What the new year holds for science, Science News shared What’s ahead for science in 2017, NBC News reported 11 Surprising Predictions for 2017 From Some of The Biggest Names In Science, and Ensia mentioned From electronic noses to invasive bees, 15 surprising trends for 2017. Did the science happen? Was it newsworthy in the end?
But whether you decide to ask your students about the top science news stories for 2016 or not, I encourage you to review these lists to see if there were any announcements that you may have missed!
- NASA – The Moon Shines Brightly Among NASA’s 2017 Highlights
- NOAA NESDIS – The Best Moments of 2017 – NOAA Satellite and Information Service
- National Science Foundation – Top Ten Stories of 2017
- Nature News – 2017: The year in science. You may also want read Nature’s 10 – Ten People that Mattered This Year. If you are interested in books, Nature publishes 2017 in books: The best reviews of the year, the Top 20 books: discovering worlds, and Illustrated books of 2017: the magnificent eight.
- The New York Times – What we learned in 2017 and 5 of Our Favorite Climate Stories of the Year
- The Washington Post – The Energy 202: The biggest environmental and energy stories of 2017, and The most consequential environmental stories from 2017
- Science – Our favorite science news stories of 2017
- Science News – Colliding neutron stars, gene editing, human origins and more top stories of 2017 and Favorite Science Books of 2017. Science News also has a story and video for Revisiting the science stories that made us cry, think and say ‘OMG’ in 2017 and These 2017 discoveries could be big news, if they turn out to be true.
- Climate Central – The 10 Most Important U.S. Climate Stories in 2017
- Science Friday – The Best Science Books of 2017, along with The Best of Science Friday 2017, and 2017 Year in Review (audio segment)
- Discover Magazine – 100 Top Stories of 2017
- Scientific American – Top 10 Science Stories of 2017
- Smithsonian – The Top 10 Ocean Stories of 2017
- Ensia – Our Top 10 Stories of 2017
- Grist – This year’s best movies, books, and podcasts about climate change
- The New Yorker – A singing volcano, a North Korean nuke, and other Earth-shaking events for 2017
- AGU – Read Them Again: Eos’s Most Viewed Stories of 2017
Another list that may be of interest for what is included (and/or not included) is the Curator’s Picks: Top 10 TED Talks of 2017.
Note that NASA has a video for What’s Ahead for 2018?. Nature News has published What to expect in 2018: Science in the new year. Science has also published What’s coming up in 2018.
(please add any lists/links in the Comments section that I may have missed!)