The world needs scientists and engineers. The best scientists and engineers. And that means helping as many people as possible to see science as a possible career for them. Most science engagement attempts focus on secondary schools, particularly GCSE age and above. But recent research suggests we must spark interest in science much earlier. Children start to see themselves as science or not science by the age of 10. So developing a vision of themselves as scientists before that age is crucial.
Some children, including my own, are lucky enough to have considerable “science capital” – knowing scientists and getting science experiences such as museums and documentaries outside of school. Some are able to pay to join science clubs. But many are not.
This is why Professor Ellie’s Lab goes into schools to deliver science to all the children in a class. If we can ignite a love of science and a vision of themselves using science in the future before age 10, hope that the flame survives the challenging teenage years and emerges for renewal by the more usual science and engineering recruitment scheme at GCSE and above, then Professor Ellie’s Lab will have made the difference that I am aiming for.