Bringing STEM to life in the primary classroom

Jul 27, 2022

Primary schools should provide a stimulating STEM education ensure young people are equipped with an understanding of STEM careers at a young age. In this month’s The Engineer column Dr Hilary Leevers, Chief Executive of EngineeringUK, looks at the importance of STEM education and inspiration for the primary ages.

“You can see the engineer in everyone when you look at how children play – the endless exploration and iteration of solutions to, admittedly often ill-defined, problems - from building blocks to sandpits. It is a pleasure to behold. But it’s also a sorry truth that career stereotypes start to form at an early age, at least as far back as primary school. One of the challenges we have in encouraging women and people from more diverse backgrounds into engineering is to overcome old-fashioned, hard-hatted stereotypes about engineering and who works in it.

“In an ideal world, we’d live in a society that enabled career aspirations to form without prejudice and based on accurate insights, rather than misconceptions. Unfortunately, a wholescale shift in cultural views that sustain these misconceptions would be very hard to achieve, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try, and the ‘This is Engineering’ campaign led by the Royal Academy of Engineering is a great effort to do that. In particular, the campaign includes efforts to change the outdated engineering images typically used by media with the hope of updating societal perceptions of what engineering is and who does it.

“Society influences from an early age and ASPIRES research, as well as other evidence, has shown that children start to develop stable career aspirations in their primary years. It’s therefore vital to ensure that all primary schools provide a stimulating STEM education and that children move to secondary schools with an understanding that STEM careers are open to and welcoming of them.”

Read the full column on The Engineer website.

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