Education & Family

Science careers not only for boffins, says Prof Brian Cox

Children at Tower Bridge Image copyright UNP
Image caption Exploring the mechanism behind London's Tower Bridge

Science careers are not "boring or only for boffins", says Prof Brian Cox.

The physicist and TV presenter says it annoys him "that people still have these perceptions".

Prof Cox has lent his support to Engineering Open House Day where major engineering organisations open their doors to the public.

The aim of the event, at the end of the first full week of the school holidays, is to boost children's enthusiasm for science and technology subjects.

More than 20 organisations threw open their doors to allow families a free inside view of how they use technology on an everyday basis.

The events ranged from a behind-the-scenes tour of London's Crossrail right down to the platform level 30m below the surface, to a ride on an articulated truck at the Caterpillar test quarry at Peterlee in County Durham.

Organisers at the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) believe up to 1,500 parents and children aged eight and above, have taken part, in venues across England and Scotland.

Events included:

  • a glimpse backstage at the National Theatre in London, to see the engineering behind top shows
  • a chance to see how the Sellafield nuclear power plant uses robot arms and computers
  • a go at the BBC Microbit coding challenge
  • a look behind the scenes at how TV satellites work.
Image copyright UNP
Image caption A would-be-engineer poses with the 1858 launching chains of SS Great Eastern, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel

An IET survey of more than 1,000 primary age children, published on Friday, suggests more than two-thirds enjoy science, technology and maths subjects.

But too few young people continue to study these subjects after 16, says the IET.

It is crucial that parents support their children, particularly girls, if they show an interest in science, technology, engineering and maths, according to IET president Naomi Climer.

"Some parents have told us they do not feel equipped with enough knowledge and this plays a part in why kids are not encouraged at home about science and engineering jobs. We have to change that."

Prof Cox added: "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."

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