Homework sparks parents’ passion for STEM

Parents are re-discovering an interest in learning about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) after a year of home-schooling, new data reveals

Parents of school children in the UK are more likely than any other group to enjoy learning about science as adults, new research has revealed. 

The national survey, conducted by Opinium Research to mark the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s European Astro Pi Challenge, concluded that parents are re-discovering a passion for science, technology and coding thanks to their children’s homework, which over half of respondents reported regularly helping with. 

Motivated by a desire to support their children’s learning, nearly three in five parents said they wished they had a greater knowledge of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) from school, with another 62% agreeing they would love to learn how to code. 

STEM really does help young people reach for the stars. It’s clear parents want to do more to help excite their kids about science, technology and coding – Tim Peake, British ESA astronaut 

The data suggests that remote schooling over the course of the pandemic may have ignited the spark, with more parents supervising learning during lockdown. 

“It’s wonderful to find out that parents of schoolchildren are discovering a passion for science and technology, especially after a year of home-schooling where they have been able to see first-hand what their children are learning,” said Olympia Brown, Head of Youth Partnerships at the Raspberry Pi Foundation. 

However, two in five parents (39%) also said they do not know how to encourage their children to follow a career in science and technology. 

Knowledge gaps 

The survey of 4,000 adults across the UK revealed that parents are particularly worried about their own knowledge gaps. 46% of parents were concerned about their ability to offer proper support with STEM due to lack of confidence in the subject. 

Two in five of respondents also admitted they didn’t understand as much of their children’s homework as they would like. 

A further half (51%) also said they wished they had paid more attention in their own science classes at school. 

Out of this world 

The data has arrived ahead of the launch of two new Raspberry Pi computers to the International Space Station (ISS) later this month to power the Astro Pi Challenge: Mission Zero, in partnership with the European Space Agency. 

The new computers will be launched from the Kennedy Space Centre, giving children the chance to code experiments and send their computer programmes into orbit. 

Every eligible child that follows the step-by-step guidance is guaranteed to have their computer program message and animation run in space and will receive a personalised certificate to confirm the date, time and location of the ISS when their program has run.  

“Since [2015], more than 50,000 children have run experiments and sent messages into orbit. The Astro Pi Challenge is a great activity for children and their parents to discover more about coding and to use digital tools to be creative,” said Tim Peak, British ESA astronaut. 

Mission Zero is free, takes between 20 minutes and an hour to complete and can be done at home or in the classroom through the Astro Pi website. Children can have a go with their parents and send their messages to the space station until 18 March 2022. 

You might also like: Create Education and NASA jump start space challenge for schools

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