« Previous | Main | Next »

Science and Engineering - a Week of Discovery, a World of Difference

Kate Bellingham Kate Bellingham | 17:00 UK time, Wednesday, 9 March 2011

The highlight of my week comes at 3.15 on a Friday. I sit in the dining room at my daughter’s primary school, waiting for 20 excited 10 and 11 year olds to rush in and say ‘what are we doing today?’ I run the school STEM club (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), and my aim is to make the topics fun and accessible. We’ve done towers from spaghetti and marshmallows, origami dodecahedrons, and experiments from ‘Bang Goes the Theory’

I might not be a ‘typical’ mum, as an engineer and a maths teacher (and a TV presenter) but, as parents, we can all share that thrill of our child making a new discovery or creating something and saying ‘look what I did!’ Added to that thrill is the knowledge we are giving them a great preparation for their future, where confidence and ability in science and maths will open doors to an ever wider range of opportunities.

plasma ball @ monkey business - Fotolia.com

National Science and Engineering Week runs from 11 – 20 March.  Most schools will be taking part, but there are lots of things to do as a family too. You can find out from the website what’s going on near you.  

I’ll be at the Big Bang Fair in London when it all kicks off -  judging and presenting awards with Brian Cox on Friday 11, then taking my own children along to join in the fun on Saturday.  But it doesn’t just happen one week a year. There are numerous permanent science and discovery centres around the country. 

As parents, we are hugely important to how our children perceive science, maths and engineering. OK, we might joke that we have no influence over them at all, but research shows that, even if a child is doing well in science, they are much more likely to keep it up with an influencer who helps them envisage taking these subjects further. If you’re not sure how to do that, there’s useful advice on Future Morph.

Science and maths are among the so-called 'facilitating' subjects that are good to take at A level if your child thinks they want to go to university, but doesn't know what they want to do. These subjects keep the doors open to the widest range of courses and are well regarded by employers too.

Many people, parents as well as children, feel they don’t know a scientist or an engineer. They just don’t come across them like they would, say, a teacher or a doctor. ‘Hidden scientists’ will be coming online mid March with volunteers ‘pinning’ information about themselves and their work on a map of the UK. 

But what often matters most is simply what we say. You know those ‘why’ questions you get asked, and you are so tempted to just say ‘cos it does’ or even ‘magic!’.  I’ve always tried to answer ‘that’s an interesting question – let’s see if we can find out.’ 

You know I said the highlight of the week was when they arrive at STEM club? Actually, I’m wrong, it’s at 4.30 when they all skip out to the collecting adults chattering about what they’ve been finding out and begging to try it at home.  

Kate Bellingham is a former Tomorrow's World presenter.

Check out the latest science news on BBC News Science and Environment.

Find out about Science on the BBC.


  • No comments to display yet.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.