S+B attends such things because it is important for us to be up to speed with policy, trends and latest thinking in science education in schools and also to become familiar with the vocabulary being used by educationalists in this regard.
We need to know what`s going on in order to ensure we have offerings consistent with current and anticipated needs.
The speakers were leading STEM education specialists most notably, Sir Robert Winston.
It was confirmed that there is an ongoing decline in the number of students going on to take higher level STEM based education. This is a major concern for all economies around the world and one which has the focus of all developed and developing countries. There is already a significant shortage of scientists and engineers particularly amongst women and the indications are that this problem will grow to massive proportions. The implications are that the world will have a serious shortage of people who know how to develop new medicines, produce more food, develop infrastructure, create viable and sustainable energy generation, tackle global warming and more generally to sustain mankind free of conflict and hunger.
This problem does mean that engineers and scientists are going to become much more valued by society in the coming years. That said, the challenge is going to be in creating appeal and stimulating interest amongst more students in science based education at a younger age. It is thought that better remuneration and improved social status will contribute but it is also felt that educationalists need to do much more to sell the subject to students and through improved specialist teaching, new teaching methods (much more enquiry based collaborative learning and less chalk and talk) and greater investment in STEM educational facilities.
What we found particularly compelling about this seminar was not just the practical economic imperative of creating more scientists and engineers, but the emphasis placed on the duty of care we have to future generations to create a better and more equitable society for all through the ability to create and build.
What we also found interesting is that research shows boys take up STEM for it`s own sake (it interests them), but girls take it up because of the possible benefits to humanity. This along with creating equality amongst the sexes in education and certain professions is seen as one of the key reasons why we need to find a way to make STEM more appealing to girls in particular and that this should start at primary school.