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It's messy, it's fun and it may just help your child get their dream career

Terrific Scientific from BBC Learning aims to encourage children to enjoy STEM subjects. We went along to the launch to find out more

By Eleanor Levy

It’s a dilemma – the careers of the future demand children leaving education with an understanding of, and enthusiasm for, science and technology. But too many children stubbornly refuse to study STEM subjects at school because, let’s face, they have a bit of an image problem.

It’s a subject we’ve covered before on Parent Zone, including our Girls in IT survey earlier this year. Our research found that though the situation is improving, children and young people, and particularly girls, stear clear of the very subjects that could help them enjoy a successful career in the future. And the problem gets worse the older they get.

Now, in an effort to turn the tide, BBC Learning has teamed up with the Wellcome Trust to launch Terrific Scientific. And it does exactly what is says on the tin, being both scientific, and pretty terrific too.

Terrific Scientific is a UK-wide campaign to bring practical science into both schools and pupils’ homes. It encourages kids aged 9-11 to grab everyday objects like lemons and food colouring to join in a series of mass-participation investigations taking place over the next 18 months. It can get messy, but the pupils helping demonstrate some of the investigations at this week's launch looked like they were having a great time.

The campaign includes Terrific Scientific At Home – which hopes to encourage the whole family to discover that science can be fun together.

‘It is widely acknowledged that the UK is facing a STEM crisis,’ says Sinéad Rocks, Head of BBC Learning. ‘We want to change that – by turning our attention towards primary schools with the aim of inspiring a new generation to see science as “for them.”’

Supporting the project is TV presenter and scientist, Liz Bonnin from Bang Goes The Theory. Liz, pictured above with some young science fans, says: ‘To me science is not a subject. Science is a way of explaining the world around us. Ever since I was very small, I had a lot of questions about how things worked. Science gave me a means to find answers to these questions and the more I work in it, the more I discover incredible things about the natural world. For me, that's what being human is all about.

‘Children have a natural aptitude for science and research shows that they are excellent at STEM subjects. Somewhere along the way they become disengaged and it's our job to understand why and to address this properly. The key is to maintain the inherent curiosity all children are born with, and learn how to reignite it and encourage it in children who lose that passion along the way. We all have a role to play – teachers, parents and society. It is our responsibility as adults to address these challenges correctly, so that children never have to feel that they are not smart enough to do science, or that if they love science they are not cool enough.’

Find out more or register your school to join in the fun.

Watch Liz Bonnin explain more about Terrific Scientific below.

See also: How cyber classrooms can help your child learn

Image: BBC