The word “amateur” comes from French and it originally meant “lover of.” The contemporary English definition of “amateur” is “someone who pursues an activity in a non-professional manner.” And “non-professional matter” usually indicates the lack of formal training.

But in today’s world, where knowledge is freely accessible online do we really need formal training to make meaningful contributions to, let’s say, science?

Check out: ‘Amateurs are scientists as well, you know’







  • enthralling – capturing and holding one’s attention; fascinating
  • overcome – succeed in dealing with (a problem or difficulty)
  • paywall – an arrangement whereby access is restricted to users who have paid to subscribe to the site
  • inhibit – hinder, restrain, or prevent (an action or process)
  • transparent – open to public scrutiny
  • inhabit – (of a person, animal, or group) live in or occupy (a place or environment)
  • flourish – grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly congenial environment


Think about it

Answer the questions below.

  • What did the author find fascinating about the study done by children and published in Biology Letters?
  • How is ordinary people’s role limited in “citizen science” projects?
  • What obstacles did Jack Andraka have to overcome?
  • What does the broadly-defined scientific community gain by openly sharing science?
  • What kind of problems did the OpenROV team had to cope with to go on with their project?


Practice makes perfect

Fill in the blank spaces with the verbs in brackets used in correct tenses and forms.

In 2010, the first scientific paper ________ (write) by school children (eight to ten years old) ________ (publish) in Biology Letters. It ________ (be) on the foraging strategies of bees and began with the phrase “Once upon a time”. What ________ (strike) me when I ________ (read) this study was not the child-friendly language, although it ________ (be) one of the most enthralling scientific papers I ________ (read), but the unorthodox perspectives embedded within it. The novel viewpoint should not be surprising, given that children are typically not tied down by the same assumptions as adults who ________ (spend) decades within scientific institutions. It ________ (make) me wonder what possible insights and discoveries ________ (lose) when only traditional practitioners ________ (conduct) science.

Explore it more

TED Talk // Beau Lotto + Amy O’Toole: Science is for everyone, kids included