Children’s love of STEM subjects isn’t carrying forward into adult life

Only 5 per cent of 4-12 year old children would drop science or Design & Technology at school

Despite a high rate of enjoyment at a young age, British children aren’t taking STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects further, according to a new study conducted by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).

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It found that only 5 per cent of 4-12 year old children would choose to drop science or design & technology from their studies, with 67 per cent of this age group finding STEM subjects interesting. The younger generation’s passion for their tech devices and their greater understanding on how these items work highlights their interest in STEM.

Naomi Climer, IET President, commented: “We know that parents are role models and influencers over their children’s futures, so it’s crucial that they support their children – particularly girls – as much as possible if they are showing an interest in science, engineering, technology and maths.

“That’s why we’re holding our Engineering Open House Day this month – to give parents the opportunity to bring their children along, for free, to venues like the Victoria & Albert Museum, the BBC, Shell and the National Theatre, and go behind the scenes to explore the creativity and diversity that lies within.”

Yet, despite this early interest, there aren’t enough young people – particularly girls – choosing to study STEM subjects at A-Level or at university, which is compounding the shortage of young people going into engineering and technology careers. Government plans to drop Design & Technology from the curriculum are expected to exacerbate the situation, as fewer students will have the opportunity to engage in the creative and problem fixing side of engineering at school.

Outdated stereotypes also play a significant role in turning young people off engineering careers.

Professor Brian Cox, who is supporting the IET’s Engineering Open House Day commented: “My love of science started at school and from being in a pop band – when an inspired physics teacher helped me make a divider circuit that meant my drum machine could connect with my keyboard.

“I think it’s really important that young kids and their parents can get an insight into what engineering is all about – and understand its connection with so many things that interest them like music, entertainment and space discovery.”

For more information on the IET’s Engineering Open House Day on and around 29 July 2016, and to register for places, visit:  

For more information about the IET’s Engineer a Better World Campaign, visit



Debbie Carter

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