The Engineering of Sport 6

pp 273-278

Using Sport to Educate and Enthuse Young People About Engineering and the Physical Sciences

  • David M JamesAffiliated withSports Engineering, Sheffield Hallam University
  • , Stephen J HaakeAffiliated withSports Engineering, Sheffield Hallam University

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Over the past decade, the United Kingdom has experienced a decline in the proportion of young people continuing with their education in the physical sciences through to university level. In general, young people believe these subjects to be ‘boring’ and irrelevant to their everyday lives. The image of the physical sciences is a serious concern to the UK Government since in order to maintain the UK’s position as a technological leader in the world economy, a continual flow of high calibre graduates is essential. Numerous initiatives have been undertaken to encourage young people to study the physical sciences with varying degrees of success. This paper discusses one successful initiative coordinated and delivered by the Sports Engineering Research Group from the University of Sheffield. A series of interactive lectures and workshops were devised to explore how modern science and technology plays an ever increasing role in sport. In just two years, more than 13,000 young people took part in the initiative during 120 events across the UK. The impact of the initiative was monitored and evaluated throughout its duration by collating questionnaire data. Responses from the questionnaires, as well as other forms of feedback, showed the use of sport to be highly effective in terms of engaging young people’s interest. The project demonstrated that the physical sciences need not be taught in a manner that disengages young people; by using examples and demonstrations from the world of sport, its perception can be one of interest and fascination.