'Catching them young': inspiring future engineers, an exploratory study

Robin Clark*, Jane Andrews

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputConference publication


The requirement that primary school children appreciate fully the pivotal role played by engineering in the sustainable development of future society is reflected in the literature with much attention being paid to the need to spark childrens engineering imagination early-on in their school careers. Moreover, UK policy documents highlight the value of embedding engineering into the school curriculum, arguing that programmes aimed at inspiring children through a process of real-life learning experiences are vital pedagogical tools in promoting engineering to future generations. Despite such attention, engineering education at school-level remains sporadic, often reliant on individual engineering-entrepreneurs such as teachers who, through personal interest, get children involved in what are usually extra-curriculum, time-limited engineering focused programmes and competitions. This paper briefly discusses an exploratory study aimed at investigating the issues surrounding embedding engineering into the primary school curriculum. It gives some insight into the perceptions of various stakeholders in respect of the viability and value of introducing engineering education into the primary school curriculum from the age of 6 or 7. A conceptual framework of primary level engineering education, bringing together the theoretical, pedagogical and policy related phenomena influencing the development of engineering education is proposed. The paper concludes by arguing that in order to avert future societal disaster, childrens engineering imagination needs to be ignited from an early age and that to do this primary engineering education needs to be given far more educational, social and political attention.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of Engineering Education Conference 2010 (EE2010)
Publication statusPublished - 2010
EventEngineering Education 2010: Inspiring the Next Generation of Engineers - Birmingham, United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Jul 20108 Jul 2010


ConferenceEngineering Education 2010
Abbreviated titleEE 2010
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


Dive into the research topics of ''Catching them young': inspiring future engineers, an exploratory study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this