This is a project aimed at persuading more children to embark upon a science based career.
The basis of the Project was researched by Clive Thompson and Sir Geoffrey Allen, and follows up on work done by the ASPIRES Team now University College London [UCL] which found that junior school children like doing science at school, but by the early years in secondary school, about three quarters have decided that they do not want to be a scientist. The Science Open Doors Team concluded that the main reason for this change was influence from parents and schools at age 10 to peer groups and the media at age 14. Accordingly Science Open Doors focuses on 9-10 year olds and their parents.
The Project team also discerned that this is because they and their parents and teachers are unaware of what scientists do. This lack of knowledge is serious because the UK alone needs 820,000 more science qualified people in the next decade. Also of the 5.8 million people employed with science and mathematics qualifications, only 20% of them are pure scientists, the remainder are employed in engineering, health, education, manufacture, banking and many more industries. Thus Science Opens Doors aims to promote careers from science while promoting the study of science and mathematics.
The Project aims to access the prime influencers of junior school children, their parents and teachers, and brings them together with the children in the classroom with a science agenda.
Over 60 visits have been made to Junior Schools, mainly in the London area, to average audiences of 35 students and 25 parents/carerscovering very diverse audiences. The learn how science is important in all of our lives and, how vital it is in solving the world’s problems. They then carry out some science based activities. Questionnaires completed separately by children and adults show universal approval for both the events and the messages about careers from science. Finally, they take away leaflets packed with information about science and careers.
Here is a typical brochure as handed out at school visits: