Over 500 London schoolchildren joined 200 scientists and engineers this December, for a day that could have been the catalyst to their future career.
Descending upon London’s Olympic Park, TeenTech City saw the innovators of tomorrow take part in experiments held by some of the UK’s biggest businesses – showcasing how their passion and skills could lead to rich and fulfilling careers in industry.
Challenges were set by key STEM industry players including Barclays, BBC, Cisco, National Grid, Atkins, JVC and Samsung, testing innovation and creativity and aiming to blur the lines between education and employment.
Shortlisted entry for the TeenTech City of Tomorrow challenge
They included an earthquake simulator, life sized NAO Robots, Twitter sentiment analysis challenges from Bloomberg, Crime Scene Investigation, BBC micro:bit coding challenges, VFX Film and 3D Animation.
Solar-powered glass cleaners, generating energy from the rain, glasses lenses that adjusted themselves according to your eyesight and robots that could react to emotions were just some of the ideas drummed up by young inventors throughout the day.
The UK still lags behind the rest of the world in terms of its investment in science. Currently, just 1.7% of Britain’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is spent on science and research, which is well below Germany’s 2.9%, the USA’s 2.8%. By showing those on the cusp of their all-important GCSE choices the real employment opportunities available within the sector, TeenTech hopes to see more young people chose STEM as a viable career option.
In his autumn statement last week, the Chancellor announced he would protect the science budget by ring-fencing the promised £4.7bn / year investment – a crucial step in protecting the industry and its future workforce.
Upon arrival, 57% per cent of attendees in total would have considered a career in engineering. At the end of yesterday’s event and after being exposed to the hands on technology, this rose to 71%.
Shockingly, only 7% of the 520 pupils Year 8 and Year 9 pupils questioned said they were considering an apprenticeship after school – despite there being a rise in opportunities for young people to enter the workforce this way.
Brainchild of BBC’s Tomorrow’s World presenter Maggie Philbin (below), the initiative works with teenagers from across the UK to open their eyes to the career opportunities available within science, engineering and technology – through both hands on experiences and national challenges such as the annual TeenTech Awards.
The event was TeenTech’s biggest to date, with 570 schoolchildren in attendance.
Speaking at the event, Maggie Philbin said: “There’s a huge amount of young talent all over the UK, and yet a generation still sits in the classroom convinced subjects like maths and physics are irrelevant. TeenTech City captures the imagination of those who at one time would have dismissed a career in science – allowing them to walk away with a real understanding of how they can make a difference to the world of tomorrow.
Many universities were also in attendance to provide hands on activities and a taste of studying STEM at a higher education level. They included Queen Mary’s College London University, City University London, UCL and Ravensbourne – whose students set up four websites to report on all of the day’s action.
Mark Boleat, policy chairman of the City of London Corporation, sponsors of the TeenTech City Event, said: “The capital is really leading the way when it comes to digital innovation, and in particular, financial technology. There are currently more FinTech employees in London and the southeast than the whole of California. To maintain our global position as the leading financial centre, it is vital to develop and maintain a high-skilled workforce. Events like this really help educate young people about careers in the technology and science sectors and hopefully inspire them to become the innovators of tomorrow.”
To see the highlights of TeenTech City 2015, visit: https://www.teentech.com/teentech-events/regions/teentech-city/.