Taking science from the lab to the kitchen

The UK is great at engineering, but as highlighted repeatedly in the press, we’re suffering from a serious shortfall in young people with science, tech, engineering and maths (STEM) skills.

Much of the work we do is school-facing because research and experience tells us that schools are one of the most effective and important places to support STEM inspiration and the skills pipeline. Although interventions in schools are key, building ‘science capital’ amongst families has been linked to children seeing a career in STEM as both achievable and desirable.

Bringing parents onboard and building their fluency in STEM so that they can champion science and engineering to their kids is an important, and often overlooked, piece of the puzzle. Although parents can be a tricky audience to reach, initiatives that engage inside and outside the school gates will see the biggest impact.

So, with school out for summer, how can parents use this time to spark curiosity and a love of STEM?

Getting kids out and about is always a great way to bring STEM to life. Most science museums and centres offer special summer programming to keep young minds busy, with workshops, exhibits and activities. Coding clubs, like Maker Club, offer an array of hands-on activities designed to teach invention, and all the skills that come with it.

But you don’t need to go out of the house – serving science at the kitchen table is also a sure-fire way to trigger  an interest in STEM. By giving families the opportunity to tackle science challenges together, it can help them build confidence in their newfound skills and have fun with science and engineering. To help make STEM a family affair, we worked with Siemens to curate a series of DIY-style science and engineering videos for families, as part of the engineering company’s Curiosity Project. The series shows that engineering is everywhere (even the front room), with a range of fun and easy activities for parents and their 7-10 year olds, using materials that can be scavenged from around the house. Animations at the end of each video highlight how the activity links to the real world.

Looking for DIY science and engineering inspiration this summer? Check out Siemens' Curiosity Project YouTube Channel. Two videos will be released weekly to keep kids busy on those long summer days!

About the author

Becky Feetham

Becky combines a passion for education with experience of delivering meaningful employability projects to young people, having managed partnerships with organisations to raise young people's aspirations. She currently leads on HS2’s primary school programme and works with LifeSkills created with Barclays to expand reach, engaging with teachers and providing advice on the education landscape. She is also chair of governors at a primary school in East London.

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