Britain Targets Schools’ Future Scientists

By Sean Cavanagh — March 23, 2009 1 min read
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There are many efforts under way in the United States to increase students’ passion for science, run by private companies, nonprofits, state and local governments, and universities. But I’m not sure that any of those programs are as large scale as the Science and Engineering Ambassadors effort, which is under way in Britain.

The program arranges to have volunteers from British science, engineering, and technology companies come into schools, with the aim of encouraging students in their math- and science related studies.

Currently, 18,000 volunteers from British companies are participating, which is sponsored by the U.K. government (specifically through a program called STEMNET) according to this story in the Financial Times. The goal is 27,000 company volunteers taking part by 2011, the article says. More than half the ambassadors are younger than 35, and 40 percent are women.

British officials, like U.S. leaders, are deeply concerned about having enough workers to fill jobs in scientific professions in the years ahead. Earlier this year, Prime Minister Gordon Brown put forward plans to increase the academic talent pool in those subjects, as we discussed on this blog. What might the United States learn from Britain’s program? Could a government-run model of this size and scale work here?

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.