Over three quarters (76%) of UK parents would like their children to choose careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), according to a survey commissioned by Shell’s national schools’ competition, The Bright Ideas Challenge. This is despite more than a third of parents (36%) saying they lack the knowledge and confidence to give STEM careers advice to their children.
The survey findings come as the regional winners of the Bright Ideas Challenge gather at Imperial College London where they are competing to be crowned national champions by Shell STEM Education Ambassador Rachel Riley. The competition asks young people aged 11-14 to imagine creative ideas to power the cities of the future, ensuring they are vibrant, healthy and clean places to live.
Joanna Miles, Teacher of Science at The Petersfield School in Hampshire said: “Using STEM knowledge to solve a real-world problem opened our students’ eyes to how their lessons can be applied in a practical context. Competitions like The Bright Ideas Challenge truly help our students think big about what is possible. Our school is so proud of the team for getting this far and we are delighted they are in the running to be named national champions in London.”
The 13 regional winners are now competing for £5,000 to spend on STEM-related areas at their schools. As part of the VIP winners’ experience at Imperial College, the teams will make a prototype of their ideas and develop their presenting skills in a science communications workshop.
Ideas from the students include powering gyms through kinetic energy, creating hydropower from rivers through man-made waterfalls, harnessing the heat energy of windmills using thermoelectric generators, and innovations for our future cities like piezoelectric generators placed under stairs and taps which capture hydropower from running water.
Initiatives such as the Bright Ideas Challenge and “Engineering: Take a closer look” aim to help children consider careers in STEM. According to EngineeringUK, a not-for-profit organisation., there will be more than 2.5 million job openings in the engineering sector alone by 2024, representing around 20% of total UK employment.
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