The ultimate cure for jetlag? Well, spending the day with 300 teenagers, obviously. On Friday I joined Maggie Philbin, the afore mentioned teenagers, and a dedicated team of grown ups at The Madejski Stadium in Reading, Berkshire, for Teentech 2010. The number of children studying science and maths has been in decline for many years in the UK, prompting government intervention. Less that 60,000 students sat Maths ‘A’ level in the UK last year. That’s in the whole country. There are signs of improvement, but as someone who is a technologist and engineer by education, it is distressing to hear them described as “Vulnerable Subjects” in education reports. Just down the road, Reading University closed its Physics department this year.
It isn’t all doom and gloom though. Teenagers are surrounded by technology, and in the right environment the negative stereotypes about the people who create it can be broken, as they meet with the scientists and engineers behind the gadgets they love. Here is Maggie Philbin, talking about Teentech as we got ready for the day – streamed live (at the time!) via mobile phone.
By the end of the day everyone was exhausted, but delighted! The young students went away with a much clearer idea of the doors that studying science and maths open up to them, having met and talked with a larger number of enthusiastic (and dedicated) professionals. A warm congratulations to the sponsors, including the IoD, IET and the education bodies involved for supporting an amazing day. Adults and children alike were inspired. Much of what I want to say is summed up in this discussion with Maggie Philbin at the end of the day.
If you are a business that depends on science and technology, get involved – Follow Maggie on twitter: @maggiephilbin or leave a comment here, and have a think about what you could do to support the next generation of Scientists and Engineers in the UK. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved and help, even if it is just letting the young people around you know what you do, and encouraging them to tackle the subjects they perceive to be the realm of boffins, and beyond what they believe they are capable of.
I have a couple more videos I’ll be adding soon!