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Calvin Asks: How can I keep my daughter inspired in engineering subjects?
My daughter is 11 and loves all things STEM! However they don’t do a lot of science at school and I want to make sure she stays interested in the subject.

I am clueless about engineering and I was hoping to get some advice about interesting activities to inspire her.

I'm a single mum and money is tight, so big expensive things are out – any suggestions on what I can do?

Looking for inspiration - Brighton
 
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30 Replies
Visit inspiring places.  Some of these will be free and some will be more inspiring than others.  Being inspired is personal so wide exposure at that age is key.

http://www.stemsussex.co.uk/primary/places-to-visit/

My local university holds a science school for girls, I'd hope you could find something similar with the University of Sussex.  You'll need to ask directly as, in my experience, these things don't need to be widely advertised to fill their places.

Visit Bletchley Park if you haven't already.  It's brilliant.  If you have, go again, too much to take in in one go.
Lisa Miles
1231 Posts
That's exactly what I was going to suggest David Jolly‍ ! smiley

There's a ton of engineering everywhere so visiting some interesting places is such a good idea if you need to do it on a budget. 

Don't forget that the science museum is always an interesting place to go. Entrance is free although you will have to pay the train fare from Brighton to London. But again there are 'off-peak' deals to be had.. wink

Another good idea would be television.... Programmes such as 'Impossible Engineering' and 'How it's made' etc are fascinating to watch. So I'd consider making time to watch those types of educational programmes together, instead of tuning into the mind-numbing conveyor belt of X Factor, Made in Chelsea, Love Island and other low quality programming (my opinion wink It's not the sort of stuff that I care to watch!) 

Good luck! smiley
Lisa beat me with the suggestion of the Science Museum, but another one is the Natural History Museum. However the cheapest option is the local library (if you still have one - too many councils are closing them). There should be a good selection of popular science books. Finding such books written by TV personalities always helps (e.g. Professor Brian Cox, Marcus de Soto, etc.) since their names can be linked to TV programmes.
Another option is to search for internet available programmes. Just going to BBC and searching for 'Engineering' brings up a list of programmes from the past available on i-Player which I don't remember but am already thinking would be fun to watch.
Alasdair
Brighton Science Week started on Tuesday.  Is this a co-incidence?
http://www.brightonscience.com/events/

Looks like a great programme of events, wish we lived closer, that would be 1/2 term filled up.
We went through a similar phase with both my son and daughter.  Science museums are a great choice, we also went to the big bang fair (Birmingham)  which was a really hands on, great day out.  It was free (apart from the transport,) and they came away with things they had made and all sorts of other stuff and information.  If you go on the website there is a link to the more local events. 
If she's into programming there are local code clubs (You can search for local code clubs on line) and various local library and after school clubs.
there is also Scratch interactive coding and that is available on-line, though if you go online routes they are communities, so keep an eye on internet safety.
 
I have 5 Grandchildren ranging from 8 years old down to a 1 year old. I have been working hard old, working hard to inspire then that Technology and Engineering is the way ahead. I took Charlotte(8 years old) to the Science Museum in Glasgow and I had trouble getting her to leave and come home. 
My 6 year old Ruby Mae is an absolute wizard on her iPad, she is teaching her 5 year old sister Vaila how to play numerous educational programmes In passing Ruby Mae wants a Pink Lamborghini when she is older. My 1 year old Finn Michael amazes me every day. He plays with lorries cars, almost any vehicle, but not interested at all in his two sisters toys. He has taken a particular interest in a remote controlled Bentley Continental. I'm afraid as these children become adults my hard earned pensions will be used to keep them learning.

KIND REGARDS


MICHAEL
 
I agree with most people that looking out for interactive events aimed at that age is the way to go.  The Glasgow Science Centre is amazing, do lots of activities and  also events like this:  Curiosity Live

This event showcases talent, research, innovation and creativity. You can go along and participate in research that's happening now, right on our doorstep with people who are carrying out ground-breaking work in their specialisms of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.

This can showcases areas of research that may engage with kids.

Sign up for social media blogs/postings for STEM focused activities in your area.

Also, get involved as kids will follow your lead if you are taking part and enjoying learning with them.

 
Another great place is The Observatory in Herstmonceaux in East Sussex. My children love it there - they prefer it to the Science Museum in fact. The place is a bit tired around the edges but they have some brilliant interactive stuff and it's inexpensive entry . They also have a great outdoor play area with fantastic things to do.
I can't recommend it highly enough. My daughter is 11 and loves it there (as I do)

I agree its hard for kids to get involved in STEM outside of school - or so it seems
Andy Millar
1730 Posts
Here's a suggestion (given the excellent ideas above): Could there be an IET "TripAdviser-like" page on this website for member recommended engineering/STEM attractions? Particularly the more obscure ones. Having done a (very) quick search on the web I can't see anyone else having done it for the UK - at least, only for the big obvious attractions. 

Of course it'll have to have a "this information may not be up to date, please check" caveat, but as long as each entry has a website link that should be fine?

I have lots of suggestions to kick it off, I'm sure many others here do too.

Cheers,

Andy
Lisa Miles
1231 Posts
What an excellent idea Andy Millar‍ !

Mmmm.... has got me thinking..... I've been looking at overhauling the 'Reviews' feature on this community so we can use it more effectively. Unfortunately it's been going down the priority list and overtaken by more important and urgent matters but your idea is a definite use case for what I have in mind for the feature! I'll be in touch... wink
Evanna Gale
66 Posts
If you want some things to do at home the STEM Toys of Christmas how-to-guide has some great hands on activities.
Roy Bowdler
818 Posts
An issue which keeps coming up is; having established some level of curiosity in and enthusiasm for aspects of engineering, perhaps in the pre-teen years, why does that so often ebb away by the mid-teens? 

Obviously this is a complex issue which has a very significant gender component, including gender stereotyping by society, although this is less pronounced in some other countries and cultures.  If we assume that a young person has an aptitude and enthusiasm for the application of science to achieve practical results, then why do so many begin to feel that Engineering and Technology does not offer a career pathway that they would wish to pursue , by the age of 13-14.  Is this “tripping point” created by social attitudes and gender related preferences, or are there other major causes? After all, more girls than boys are drawn towards the science of Biology. Geography and Art are relevant to some aspects of engineering. Strong interpersonal skills are needed in many roles to lead or coordinate. Perhaps we need to understand better which types of engineering and engineering related roles are more successful at maintaining the interest of a diverse range of people, to the point where this might become a viable career for them.

Are we ourselves a major contributor to the problem?

All the major Professional Engineering Institutions have long-established processes intended to ensure that only those who are exceptionally strong in mathematics, can pursue a career as a “professional engineer”, leading ultimately to Chartered Engineer recognition. Therefore, anyone who has not developed a talent or enthusiasm for mathematics as taught in school, by around the age of 14, leading them to strong GCSE and A level results, is already potentially falling out of the running. The Professional Institution view has traditionally been narrow, specialised and siloed, focussed on calculus or other advanced mathematical techniques relevant to their discipline. Other variations of careers have been either ignored, or at worst even looked down upon.  Examples include more practically orientated engineering careers such as skilled trades, technicians, engineers who are slightly less theoretically orientated. Less “pure” versions of engineering involving management, commercial and organisational skills. Types of practice outside the specialism such as architecture, topography, surveying, building etc. In fact in some eyes, almost anything outside the narrow definition of the accredited engineering degree course that they did or similar, isn’t “proper engineering”.  

As someone who spent much of their early career in an almost exclusively male workplace of heavy engineering, where dirty overalls, hard hats and sexist attitudes were just normal. Much progress has been made over the last 30 years on gender issues in technical workplaces, but there is still much work to do. There is also much to do in addressing social-mobility, which sociologists assert has reduced in that time.  Many of those Chartered Engineers towards the end of their careers were products of the grammar school system, or were able to study at an affordable cost in “night school” during their twenties and thirties. Others slightly younger were given grants by local authorities to attend university provided they were reasonably successful in school.  We now have a highly competitive school system and very costly higher education system.  For example, I was speaking to a friend last week who has invested hugely in getting their son to pass his 11+ exam. A successful engineering graduate will also have to pay back their student loan. A good apprenticeship may be the answer, but there are not enough of them, spread widely enough and this “traditional” pathway even became stigmatised in recent decades.  

Of course we need to ensure that pre-teens develop curiosity about how the world around them is constructed by mankind.  We then need to nurture that curiosity to turn it into an intellectual one, enabling those with an aptitude for a technical career to progress it.  If what we are achieving is just a series of tripping-points, that potentially crush any early enthusiasm, or allowing some to misuse our name to perpetuate forms of snobbery, then we need to address this.  


Does anyone have direct personal experience of these issues and if so what should we do? Perhaps you disagree with my frame of reference? Are the issues in IT/Computing the same, or is that just cultural?        
 
Arran Cameron
415 Posts

Timothy East:

I agree its hard for kids to get involved in STEM outside of school - or so it seems

I disagree with this one using my experience of several years of involvement with home education.

I can remember a time when a parent, who was a child of the 1980s, told me how difficult the situation was back then. His primary school only taught nature study but not 'hard' science and the teachers had an indifferent attitude towards STEM. Even the maths was just arithmetic and didn't cover topics like algebra or probability. Resources were far more limited to whatever books were available in libraries and local bookshops; a few magazines like New Scientist; and a handful of TV programmes. He visited a few museums but there wasn't much in the way of activities and exhibitions locally.

 
Arran Cameron
415 Posts

Roy Bowdler:
As someone who spent much of their early career in an almost exclusively male workplace of heavy engineering, where dirty overalls, hard hats and sexist attitudes were just normal. Much progress has been made over the last 30 years on gender issues in technical workplaces, but there is still much work to do. There is also much to do in addressing social-mobility, which sociologists assert has reduced in that time.  Many of those Chartered Engineers towards the end of their careers were products of the grammar school system, or were able to study at an affordable cost in “night school” during their twenties and thirties. Others slightly younger were given grants by local authorities to attend university provided they were reasonably successful in school.  We now have a highly competitive school system and very costly higher education system.  For example, I was speaking to a friend last week who has invested hugely in getting their son to pass his 11+ exam. A successful engineering graduate will also have to pay back their student loan. A good apprenticeship may be the answer, but there are not enough of them, spread widely enough and this “traditional” pathway even became stigmatised in recent decades.

I think that engineering is to a certain degree a 'closed shop' career not always easy for somebody outside of the 'fraternity' to enter. It has been mentioned to me that a high proportion of engineers in Britain tick the following boxes:

1. Are white indigenous British folk.
2. Come from an upper middle class background with a fraction (of clever kids) from a lower middle class background, but rarely any from truly wealthy backgrounds nor the traditional working class or lower class backgrounds.
3. Lived in the suburbs or smaller towns during their childhood, with far fewer from urban or deep rural areas.
4. Passed their 11 plus and attended a grammar school or attended a lower ranking but very academic independent school.
5. Enjoyed their time at school and did well academically.
6. Did not have any SEN or disabilities during their childhood.
7. Are not particularly religious although those who are religious are mainly Protestant Christians. Other religions are uncommon.
8. Generally apolitical and not interested in politics but usually vote Conservative or (before 2015?) Lib-Dem. I haven't got any figures but support for smaller parties amongst engineers is probably lower than the national average. Anecdotal evidence points in a direction that engineers who are fans of Jeremy Corbyn are exceptional cases - most I have met detest him.
9. Pro-EU.
10. Sympathetic towards Israel !!!
11. Hold a generally negative view towards ex-cons becoming engineers, or even having any decent job at all.
12. Have a parent or a close relative who is an engineer.

Of course we need to ensure that pre-teens develop curiosity about how the world around them is constructed by mankind.  We then need to nurture that curiosity to turn it into an intellectual one, enabling those with an aptitude for a technical career to progress it.  If what we are achieving is just a series of tripping-points, that potentially crush any early enthusiasm, or allowing some to misuse our name to perpetuate forms of snobbery, then we need to address this.  

There is a question whether (professional) engineers should be hobbyists during their childhood or whether they should be good scholars? I think that most professional engineering institutions favour good scholars over hobbyists similar to how you have previously explained with the calculus.

Does anyone have direct personal experience of these issues and if so what should we do? Perhaps you disagree with my frame of reference? Are the issues in IT/Computing the same, or is that just cultural?        

Not to the same degree as engineering. It's quite common to find IT and software developer types who come from lower class or non-technical family backgrounds; did not do well at school and / or did not enjoy school; have more diverse religious and political views; and dare I say, have been to jail.

Roy Bowdler
818 Posts
Arran,

I warmly welcome someone taking a sociological perspective and your characterisation of engineering as mostly a “fraternity”, seems reasonable. Perhaps a number of different fraternities, which are partly social-class based?

I began my career as an apprentice and was quickly recruited into the Electrician’s Trades Union (EETPU), my organisation was a closed-shop where membership was a requirement and engineers had a different Union (The Electrical Power Engineers Association EPEA). I transferred when I was promoted from “Industrial” (weekly paid “blue-collar”) to “technical staff” (monthly paid –“white collar”).  I first joined the IEETE (now IET) in the hope of it helping me progress, but transferred to the ASEE (now also IET) when I had, because it was included in my EPEA subscription.  However sometime soon after, Engineering Council banned Trades Union activity amongst institutions, resulting in IIExE (now IET). A small but significant proportion of engineers were IEE/IMechE (or other niche chartered institutions), mostly from the time when HNC+ endorsements or institution exams were acceptable, but also having been sponsored through university, or recruited as graduates. 

Something similar was the experience of many engineers and technicians in large (often nationalised, including armed forces) industries until the 1990s. In another thread, Andy Millar used the term “paternalistic” and I think that is an apt one. Women were rare and only at strategic level would the occasional “posh accent” be found.  To illustrate, circa 25 years ago I carried out a debrief of senior engineers and managers following an IEE accreditation visit to our flagship plant (now a PLC itself), the first instinct of several present was to mock the visitors as “posh and out of touch”, with a comment like “where did they find that lot”. Similar comments have been made in these forums, usually something like “old boys” and I may have even cited “Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells” myself in a lighter vein. For context the visit was in Yorkshire and the intent wasn’t actually hostile. Certainly not as difficult as dealing with the first gender transition situation, around the same time!

Without some sort of empirical research, I couldn’t give much credance your 12 factors, but they are an interesting perspective, based I assume on your direct personal experience and/or perhaps some supposition? Although I would characterise the majority of Chartered Engineers as somewhat “conservative”, this would probably be true of all chartered professionals. In fact thanks to Monty Python, Ask The Family and two seemingly very “square” Chartered Engineer uncles, this definitely wouldn’t have appealed to my teenage sensibilities.  http://www.montypython.net/scripts/vocation.php .  I cannot remember ever encountering any “opinion” from an engineer in the workplace about Israel and only one who was a Christian Evangelist at work?  Many workplaces contain a mix of institution members and those who are not. You would often be very hard pressed to spot the difference. However within the fraternity itself, division becomes important and almost at times the main raison d’etre. There are train spotters who obsess about every difference and people who are just interested in railways.  

I haven’t brought ethnicity into this because I don’t think that it is now a significant issue in UK engineering, separate to social class and educational opportunities. Obviously some groups in society are socially disadvantaged, including many from a White British heritage and I’m not suggesting that there are no issues. However, I would be surprised and outraged to discover any recent evidence of racism within our professional community.

For the avoidance of drifting off topic, there are other types of work that are female dominated and where a “sorority” or “female club” is predominant. Some of those fought hard to become seen as “graduate professions” rather than “vocations”.  An interesting case-study would be “Personnel Management”.  Partly by chance I migrated into this area, initially through technical training. Senior figures were nearly all male either having followed a technical pathway like mine, or were seasoned veterans of negotiations with powerful Trades Unions. Females from administrative or welfare type backgrounds had good responsible jobs, but with a “glass ceiling”.  As of 2017 membership of The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD of which I am a Fellow) is 80% female and although the balance is different at the most senior levels, HR often offers the best pathway for a female to reach director level.  https://www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/long-reads/articles/hr-gender-challenge .

This leads me on to what I think is the most important issue around which we need consensus and leadership. Who do we wish to see recognised and nurtured by our professional community 10+ years into the future?

Many incumbent Chartered Engineers would aspire towards parity of esteem in society with medical doctors. This seems to me an unlikely prospect. An obvious parallel would be the differences between a “Doctor” and Nurse, the latter being a female dominated role, held in high public affection, but also seen as being “of lower rank” (like we see our own IEng). Medical doctors are divided in various ways, but all are generally held in high esteem.  More realistic comparisons might be roles such as architects, surveyors, managers (various) and accountants, which overlap to some extent with engineering? Is there something to learn from the mainly Social Science based HR profession, or from areas that favour Biology as their main underlying science?  There also seem superficially at least to be plenty of female mathematicians, astronomers or astrophysicists etc?

We can all as individuals all exercise our influence, but as the IET collective, we aslo find ourselves the largest member of a parliament consisting of Engineering Council as the standards regulator. It is charged with setting standards for all practitioners from the threshold of Technician, but is in practice a Chartered Engineer’s Council. We also have Engineering UK and the Royal Academy of Engineering , who advocate engineering in different ways, but with a similar remit. It seems from my perspective that the battle against sexism at this level has long been won , but clearly this triumvirate have not engaged that successfully with the majority of practitioners and employers. Progress in gender equality, especially for the academically adept has perhaps come at the expense of portraying those with a more practical approach as being “oily-rag”, “hard-hat” and “sub-standard” relative to chartered recognition.  So arguably engineering as an engine of social mobility has stalled or even reversed?  

We can only operate in the social environment that we find ourselves, but we have choices, such as for example; should technicians have their own council? I don’t advocate this, because it would probably just turn a one-sided dysfunctional competition into a more equal one, with no overall benefit. Are engineering careers “progressive” or “siloed”? We used to say siloed and allow a bit of progression, now we say progressive, but have done little to enable this in the decade since it was first adopted. These forums are testament to the many highly experienced and often well-qualified engineers considered “not-chartered” and the statistics testament to those who don’t see the benefit in trying.

Large parts of IT and/or Computer Science would fall within our IET footprint.

Your comment. Not to the same degree as engineering. It's quite common to find IT and software developer types who come from lower class or non-technical family backgrounds; did not do well at school and / or did not enjoy school; have more diverse religious and political views; and dare I say, have been to jail. Is your characterisation of this territory a reasonable one? I have limited experience in this area, but don’t particularly recognise this description.

Legislation was enacted long ago to protect those who may have committed minor offences from unreasonable disadvantage in employment and to aid the rehabilitation of more serious offenders who may have served custodial sentences.  Petty crime, anti-social behaviour, teenage gang territories etc, were endemic in an area close to where I grew up, although serious drug problems came slightly later. It was incredibly easy to be drawn into these activities, but luckily I stayed on the periphery of the worst bits and therefore out of jail. Perhaps the better company I found as Junior Captain of my local Rowing Club was a useful counterbalance? My apprenticeship got me away from of it, for a cousin it was the Army, someone else a few years younger (slightly too young to be a contemporary – thankfully!) became a World Boxing Champion.  Jeremy Corbyn is too old to have been a contemporary, but was on “the other side of the tracks” at a Grammar School a few miles away. According to your hypothesis he would be unwelcome in our club, although his father and a brother were engineers and another brother was a scientist, all of some distinction.

Do we have an IT professional wanting to comment?  

Just to reiterate the question as I interpreted it was; why do teenage girls lose interest in an Engineering and Technology Career?  

I think that this is a very important issue, but one that cannot be disconnected, from issues of classism and social mobility.  I have found myself in situations of enhanced sensitivity to these issues, initially when I realised that even degree qualified and highly skilled technical professionals who I managed, were being considered “second class” . I then discovered that the pathway that I followed to registration as a professional engineer (IEng) by the age of 27, institution fellowship and a chartered “management” career, was also now considered a “second class” one.  Only very recently for example, some people within the IET decided that people like me (IEng) should be considered unsuitable to mentor a prospective Chartered Engineer and I had to fight a rear-guard action (not for myself) to overturn this crass action. The Chief Executive of Network Rail had to call for an end to the Stigma around apprenticeships.  Even the Uff report talked about snobbery being prevalent.  

Therefore, on behalf of mainstream professional engineers of graduate calibre, of any gender or from any social background and especially those drawn from the apprenticeship tradition; can we have our proper measure of respect back please, from the petty snobs and elitists?  They claim the cloak of “high standards”, but sometimes barely understand the practicalities of engineering as carried out by highly trained and skilled people themselves.

 https://www.imeche.org/news/news-article/female-engineering-apprentices-are-not-a-breed-apart


 
Arran Cameron
415 Posts

Roy Bowdler:
Arran,

I warmly welcome someone taking a sociological perspective and your characterisation of engineering as mostly a “fraternity”, seems reasonable. Perhaps a number of different fraternities, which are partly social-class based?

There definitely are fraternities within fraternities in engineering but it seems to be more along the lines of different types of engineering, and the organisations which employ large numbers of such engineers, more than other factors. Audio engineering is definitely split into different fraternities each with their own different (and sometimes conflicting) technical standards.

Without some sort of empirical research, I couldn’t give much credance your 12 factors, but they are an interesting perspective, based I assume on your direct personal experience and/or perhaps some supposition?

I can't guarantee the validity of these 12 factors. Some of them have provoked a few queries as to exactly how one arrived at such a conclusion or how reliable any data was to start with, especially as I have encountered engineers who do not tick several of the boxes. Whether they are exceptional cases or not is difficult for me to determine.

I haven’t brought ethnicity into this because I don’t think that it is now a significant issue in UK engineering, separate to social class and educational opportunities. Obviously some groups in society are socially disadvantaged, including many from a White British heritage and I’m not suggesting that there are no issues. However, I would be surprised and outraged to discover any recent evidence of racism within our professional community.

I actually think it's more an issue of culture surrounding particular ethnic groups rather than one purely of race. In a local mosque you will find several doctors, pharmacists, accountants, teachers, and even some lawyers who rub shoulders with taxi drivers, takeaway workers, and many others in low skill low pay jobs, but you won't find many engineers there. Neither will you find many people who work in the media or broadcasting, or even bricklayers or double glazing fitters.

Could it be safe to say that some careers appeal more or less to certain ethnic groups than they do to others independent of the levels or skills and qualifications, pay, and the socioeconomic group most associated with them? One factor could be whether it's common to find people already in these careers or not. If a young teenager who uses the mosque wants to know more about a career in medicine or accountancy then he will be able to easily find people in these occupations for advice but if he wants to know more about a career in engineering or double glazing then there might not be anybody who can help him. The end result is that young teenagers who use the mosque will tend to gravitate towards careers where help and advice are available, as they are a safer bet, and avoid venturing into uncharted territory like engineering unless they are courageous or have support from elsewhere. 

Many incumbent Chartered Engineers would aspire towards parity of esteem in society with medical doctors. This seems to me an unlikely prospect. An obvious parallel would be the differences between a “Doctor” and Nurse, the latter being a female dominated role, held in high public affection, but also seen as being “of lower rank” (like we see our own IEng). Medical doctors are divided in various ways, but all are generally held in high esteem.  More realistic comparisons might be roles such as architects, surveyors, managers (various) and accountants, which overlap to some extent with engineering? Is there something to learn from the mainly Social Science based HR profession, or from areas that favour Biology as their main underlying science?  There also seem superficially at least to be plenty of female mathematicians, astronomers or astrophysicists etc?

The executive car market split into two sectors in the 1980s and 90s. A more prestigious sector with cars from Jaguar, Mercedes, BMW, Audi, and later Lexus. A less prestigious sector with cars from Ford, Vauxhall, Peugeot, Renault, and Rover. The companies in the more prestigious sector are still strong players today but the companies in the less prestigious sector have withdrawn or reduced their presence in the executive car market and focused their strengths elsewhere, or in the case of Rover gone bust.

Do engineers have anything to learn from this?

Andy Millar
1730 Posts
There's one important and true one on that list, which is number 12, and the "male" part of number 1 is also true and important. (The rest of this list is just weird and a bit silly, a five minute survey in Devonport Dockyard, for example, would turn up a huge range of rather different results. *)

I have done an (admittedly very small scale) empirical study of how many engineers have a parent who is an engineer, and it does seem to be true. For anyone who works in an office of engineers it's a very interesting one to try. It's not really surprising, engineer's work is very obscure to most people, so it's not that surprising that the children of engineers know rather more about it and so are more likely to consider it as a career. So for a non-engineer to inspire a daughter - or indeed child of any sex or gender - to become an engineer is hard, it's not just being inspired by the subject but also understanding what a career in it actually involves - which as Roy points out very well is actually a whole range of options.

The only answer I know for this one is for a whole range of us to go into schools as much as we can and show what we actually do day-to-day and how we got there (particularly those rather younger than I am). Work experience is of course good as well, but requires the student to be interested in engineering in the first place to want to apply for it. Any other suggestions would be VERY welcome.

But I also strongly believe that it's a good idea to interest our children in all sorts of things - including engineering - irrespective of where their future careers might go. (I really hate any idea that childhood experiences should all be about careers - life's much more interesting than that!) My son and daughter both seemed to gain a huge amount from the various engineering things we did together, some of which were rather extreme, even though I guessed from young ages that neither of them were likely to become engineers (which they didn't). The important thing is that they're both highly comfortable with technology.

In summary, all credit to the original poster for wanting to encourage their daughter smiley

Cheers,

Andy

* I scored 4 out of 12. 1, 3, 9 and 12. What was scarier was the fact that a survey of primary school children saw engineers as "a white, short, middle aged man with glasses and a beard." A: This is not true either for the average engineer in my experience, but B: oh dear...anyone who's met me will know why that hit a nerve...particularly the "short" bit.  
 
Hi, I worked as a parent volunteer at my children's local school supporting the Greenpower project https://www.greenpower.co.uk/ . 
Would be worth asking your school if they could look into it and joining up. We ran our team like a business so it wasn't just about nuts & bolts engineering but had finance, budgets, community relations, manufacturing & assembly type activities. It worked well, the adults learnt lots & the children were enthused & excited by not just engineering but 'business' in general. The team was (still is) Rotary Racer. The have a web site http://www.greenpower.beamweb.co.uk/ although I am no longer there they still have the same ethos of supporting others. I see more & more young ladies with an interest in engineering so please encourage her, there are lots of opportunities. Good luck
Kind Regards
Martin    
 
Hi, 

There are an increasing number of "toys" that are aimed at programming and logical problem solving for 11+ age bracket. Some of these are great fun and I expect there will be lots more coming to the market.

The CES show is on from the 8th of this month. They have some great and fun products there normally, so I would suggest you check out daily news updates from the event that might be interesting to her to see: makes Engineering relevant to solving practical issues and shows how engineering applies to a broad range of applications.

Note: If you want to get her  interested in programming, then take a look at Reach Robotics product. (not cheap, but is fun to program and will entertain her and friends for sure.) My son works there, so there is an associated interest that I will state. There are other products out there that can be programmed.

Chris
I have a friend whose daughter is interested in maths, science and football.  She is in Year 11 (GCSEs this summer).  I'm her godfather, and her mum and dad say my "job" is to nurture her interest in stem.

in 2017 I gave her a scientific calculator - specifically a Casio one, model fx-991ES.  It has a built in list of physical constants and when I visit, we'll pick one and find out more about it.  How big or small is the number?  What are the units? Some are quite advanced (eg Stefan Boltzmann constant), but many are well within the understanding of a 15 year old  eg speed of light ...  (why is it specified in a vacuum?). Or how about Avagadro's  constant?  (How many Olympic swimming pools do you need for a mole of Smarties?)

I also treated her to a trip to the Large Hadron Collider (CERN) in Geneva.  I take on board your limited budget - but the only real cost is the air fare (should be less than £100 for both of you).  There is no entrance charge to CERN, nor any charge for the tours.  We did the trip in a single (long!) day.  First you need to get familiar with their rather convoluted booking system.  The tours are hugely over-subscribed and you need to sign up on their web site then have some idea of when you want to go.  I can't remember how many weeks before your preferred date you need to apply... they only have 12 spaces per tour, and 2 tours per day, and when your chosen date becomes available for booking you need to be on line, logged in to CERN and ready to snap up two places at 7:30a.m.(C.E.T.) when the booking service opens.  By 7:45 they'll all be gone!  Don't book your flights until you've secured a place on the CERN trip - you most likely will have to make a few attempts at booking to secure places on the tour.  You'll both need passports.  We brought no Swiss francs, and only about 20 Euros from previous trips abroad.  The shops and cafes in downtown Geneva take Euros, but, as you'd expect, don't give a great exchange rate.  I just took the hit on my credit card for bits and bobs

I stayed with her family on the night before... had a big dinner so we wouldn't need to buy much food in Geneva (very expensive!)... had an early night and were on the road at 3a.m. to get to Luton airport for the first flight to Geneva.  The CERN building is a few tram stops from the airport.  The exhibition of the development and working of the LHC is amazing, and the tour is the best ever.  As part of their job description, staff have to undertake to lead visitor tours.

Expect to spend about 4 hours at CERN, then get a tram down to the 'water jet' on the Geneva waterfront.  Go out on the boardwalk as close as you dare (depends on wind direction!). And, unusually for Geneva - it's free! On a clear day you can see Mont Blanc! We had a couple of hours to window shop around the very posh jewellery and clothes shops.

Back to the airport for the last flight home.  Out flight was delayed for an hour due to spectacular thunderstorm.  I explained to one of the flight attendants that my goddaughter was interested in science and technology and they gave her a tour of the flight deck - and the captain was a woman.

We were back on UK soil by midnight.

A grand day out.
Some very interesting discussion in this thread. In terms of why youngsters drop out of STEM subjects, that's a whole other discussion! I have a wide circle of acquaintances a reasonable percentage of whom almost revel in their lack of understanding of since and technology, wearing it like a badge of honour! They are the first to complain when the technology doesn't work of course......smiley. I am still struggling with how to deal with that!

Anyway, to keep to the original question, I wondered what might be available in the way of after school or weekend clubs/activities. The most exciting thing for me has always been the opportunity to create something. I found the following with a short Internet search which might be worth more investigation (although what costs might be involved isn't clear);

https://www.stem.org.uk/stem-clubs
https://imagineering.org.uk/clubs/information
https://www.borntoengineer.com/

Of course, the IET does try to support schools through its Schools Liaison Programme but that must inevitably rely on engaged and enthusiastic teachers at at the youngster's school.

In terms of TV programmes (which a previous contributor mentioned as a good source of inspiration) I would thoroughly recommend The Big Life Fix with Simon Reeve - truly inspiring;
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09g5hwf

I hope that there are many opportunities for young people in this new year.

John Sullivan CEng, MIET
 
find out what really interests, if it could be big structures, find local constructing excellence/civil engineers, (they can get tours on local big building projects), 

have you been to sellafield, they had a good tour I went on when around 10 ish, 

a tour of waste facilities is particularly eye opening. can ask for a look round local ones. 

if you are a car person, there's also the factory tours that the german car companies do - bmw, audi, and i think mercedes do them. (stuttgart)

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g187309-d501704-Reviews-BMW_Headquarters-Munich_Upper_Bavaria_Bavaria.html 
https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g187309-d856420-Reviews-BMW_Welt-Munich_Upper_Bavaria_Bavaria.html

also can book tours of the bmw factory in munich or mini plant in oxford. 
https://www.bmw-besuchen.com/visitbmw/ 

i've also been on tours of the jcb factory at uttoxiter, perhaps write a letter and see if they do open days. they have a big setup/operation for doing them. 

a well written, handwritten letter from the person to the boss of the organisation is likely to get a look round if you explain why it's of interest and that you'd like to come and see what they do.  

the bmw factory website looks pretty special. was trying to get a group of like minded blokes together. also zf's factory has a zepplin museum next door. 

tripadvisor list the tours on things to do in munich for more information. as said previously in the conversations, it is hard to get to know local attractions unless you have insider knowledge.

in the north east, where i live, we have taken our daughter to the ryhope engines museum (steaming & working at bank holidays), as kids we went to ironbridge, canals around birmingham, manchester industrial museum, birmingham museum (dinosoars), museums in london etc. best things though were to see and break things down to understand how they worked. that means having the relevant stuff to hand and an environement to play/put things together and re-assemble. 

in the mean time to play with and look at, 

remote control cars and drones, lego with motors and mechano, (apparently you can still get it). building a crane took days to do.  
also get a rasperry pi and speak to computer teachers about what do do with it. there are a number of books and online coding things happening and youtube videos about how to make playing with them cool.

sam aaron - youtube of pi programming used to create/play/program music 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TK1mBqKvIyU 

rasperry pi code club 
https://projects.raspberrypi.org/en/codeclub 
Hi - there are lots of interactive engineering places to go to but when at home how about making models say of a moon lander?  I used to do this when young, even got one on TV. The I graduated to making my own fireworks and working rockets. Sadly not allowed now due to H&S. Later I launched real rockets in Woomera, Australia. Start with model making, it costs nothing and shows you how things go together in 3 dimensions. I made a satellite from paper and thin wood once when I was at work.
There's a wonderful museum in Oxford called I think the museum of scientific achievements. It even has a blackboard upon which are Einstein's real equations for the density of the universe. Apparently he gave a lecture there and they unscrewed the blackboard with his chalk scribings and kept it!
Get your daughter to write to universities and companies to ask for interesting items she may be particularly interested in, she may even get an invitation to visit and it will encourage her communication skills. She is almost certain to get an encouraging reply.
Good luck!
Andy Millar
1730 Posts

Martin Letts:
The I graduated to making my own fireworks and working rockets. Sadly not allowed now due to H&S. 

Just to mention that building working rockets (in the UK at least) is absolutely fine! if anyone wants to have a go with their daughter (or even son), here's a suggested start (although I haven't tried them myself so it's a suggestion not a recommendation): https://www.modelrockets.co.uk/shop/starter-sets-with-motors/do-you-need-help-choosing-get-the-right-set-p-3017.html Although of course, Martin, yours may have been more "exciting" than these smiley

I spent most of my 9 years as a school H&S Governor explaining to the teachers that they could usually do absolutely anything they thought was reasonable, although as a school they did have to write down why they thought it was ok...I'm always wary that people in semi-authority positions (including at least one county council H&S official angry) say "you can't do that because of H&S" as shorthand for "you can't do that because I think I might get blamed for it and I can't be bothered to find out what the law actually says". My absolute favourite being "you can't bring a WorkMate into this college unless it's been PAT tested". Personally I always go back to the actual legislation (or authoritative guidance) - it is usually far more open minded and pragmatic than people expect. Sorry, off topic!  

Cheers,

Andy

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