When is the best age to engage children with STEM?

Commissioned by: Institution of Mechanical Engineers
Project conducted: 2010
Report published: May 2010

The engineering community expends considerable resource trying to engage with and enhance the STEM-relevant education of the next generation of potential engineers. This resource is applied across a range of ages but, broadly, increases as the age of the young people engaged increases. If the engineering community applied a greater proportion of its resources on a specific age range would it have a more beneficial and longer lasting effect on the perceptions, interests, study choices and career decisions of young people?

By analysing research outcomes and seeking the views of experts in the field, the study identified a range of key factors that effect the motivation of young people to STEM. Importantly, it identifies how these factors and children's motivations are influenced by age, highlighting the 10 to 14 age group as critical for children’s disengagement. There is an opportunity to engage children in this age group so that their interest STEM is greater as they approach critical decision points. The report explores some of the factors that both support and hinder engagement with STEM within this critical 10-14 age group.

Published May 2010

To cite this report, please use: Graham, R. H. (2010). When STEM? A question of age. London: Institution of Mechanical Engineers.