December 31, 2021
Top Science Stories of 2021 – 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, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. Here, I am reproducing that post and updating the list to some of the collections of top science news stories from 2021, not just as a reminder to us of what has happened in our field going as far back as two semesters, but as a suggested topic to kick off the Spring 2022 semester with students.
In 2021, our @NASAPersevere Mars rover landed and our Ingenuity helicopter took flight. Two asteroid missions launched to the skies, and another began its journey home to Earth. A look back at highlights for our #NASAScience planetary missions: https://t.co/PZYMjxlBHs pic.twitter.com/7WYeF00SQA
— NASA (@NASA) December 27, 2021
If you ask your students what were the major scientific accomplishments in 2021, what would they say? Are they aware of what happened in the previous year (beyond COVID), 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?
Scientists have impressive stories to tell, and the @ScienceVisuals team loves the problem solving and creativity needed to visualize their work.
📸 Here’s their favorite images published this year: https://t.co/6ZE87nbbP6 pic.twitter.com/ZMPfyI2cZz
— Science Magazine (@ScienceMagazine) December 29, 2021
One idea is that on the first day of class in the semester, you could provide each of my students a blank scrap of paper (or ask them to enter in a Google Form, Doc, or Jamboard) and ask them to write down what they remember as the top five science stories were for 2021 – then ask them to list any additional stories that relate to your course. Have the students write their name on the paper and collect it so you can see what “current event literacy” students have coming into the course. Since one of the goals of my courses is to highlight recent science news, I’m always interested in seeing 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 2020? Nature News had published The science events to watch for in 2020. Then there was NBC’s Innovations 12 reasons why 2020 will be an awesome year, and Los Angeles Times Eight science stories to watch for in 2020. Did the science happen? Was it newsworthy in the end? Something tells me the really big stories may not have been predicted – and it will be interesting to see what the future science news headlines will be.
Year in Review: The Top Climate & Security Stories of 2021 https://t.co/myU5ovwNZ8
— Climate & Security (@CntrClimSec) December 29, 2021
But whether you decide to ask your students about the top science news stories for 2020 or not, I encourage you to review these lists to see if there were any announcements that you may have missed!
- BBC News – Climate change: Huge toll of extreme weather disasters in 2021 and Wildlife’s winners and losers of 2021 – and how extreme weather set the tone
- Covering Climate Now – Things We’re Grateful for in 2021: Stellar Climate Journalism
- Discover Magazine – Looking Back at an Eventful 2021 in Volcanic Eruptions
- Eos – The Best of Eos 2021
- NASA – NASA Planetary Science Highlights: 2021
- National Science Foundation – NSF: year of discovery and innovation
- Nature – Gravity, AlphaFold and neural interfaces: a year of remarkable science
- NOAA –NOAA Research’s top 5 stories from 2021, and NOAA Fisheries Top 21 Stories, Photos, and Videos of 2021, and 5 ways NOAA helped make America climate-ready in 2021
- Science – Our favorite science news stories of 2021 (non-COVID-19 edition)
- Science Friday – The Best of Science Friday 2021
- Science News – Here are our favorite cool, funny and bizarre science stories of 2021 and These discoveries from 2021, if true, could shake up science and 6 surprising records science set in 2021
- Scientific American – The Five Biggest Climate Stories of 2021, and The Best Fun Science Stories of 2021
- Smithsonian Magazine – The Ten Most Significant Science Stories of 2021, along with The Top 10 Ocean Stories of 2021, and The Ten Best Science Books of 2021, and The Top Ten Dinosaur Discoveries of 2021
- Stanford Earth Matters Magazine – Editor’s Picks: Top 10 Stories of 2021
- The Atlantic – 2021: The Year in Volcanic Activity
- The Guardian – 2021: A Year of Climate Crisis in Review
- The New York Times –Space and Astronomy News: 2021’s Biggest Highlights, and 2021: The Year in Climate
- The Washington Post – COP26, global emissions gaps, and extreme weather disasters
- TIME Magazine – TIME’s Top Climate Stories of 2021
- Yale Climate Connections – 2021 was a remarkable year for Earth’s climate
- Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute – WHOI’s Best of 2021
The Hakai Magazine team compiled a list of some of our favorite stories from 2021. Catch up on the ones you missed before the end of the year:https://t.co/Tt7EtUEXC0
— Hakai Magazine (@hakaimagazine) December 27, 2021
And what should we expect in 2022? Science has published More than a virus: Science’s areas to watch in 2022. Covering Climate Now shares that Climate Journalism’s Watchwords in 2022? Accountability and Hope. New Scientist has predictions for the big science stories of 2022. And Nature has compiled their watchlist as well:
Omicron, Moon missions and particle physics: Here are the science events to watch for in 2022 https://t.co/NOaT5FwowY
— nature (@Nature) December 27, 2021
(please add any lists/links in the Comments section that I may have missed!)