How’s the reception? IET research says item kids most want in space is TV...

03 September 2019

IET music-in-space1

Space may be filled with infinite wonders awaiting discovery, but new research from the IET found home comforts would be hard to leave behind for most children – with more than a third (36%) saying the thing they'd most like to take into space with them is TV!

The number two and three items kids want to take to space are chocolate (35%) and their bed (34%), which were prized higher than pets (24%) or even photos of friends and family (23%).

Meanwhile, the comfort of their bed is the top thing UK adults would find hard to leave behind, with nearly a third (31%) saying they would want to take it with them to space.

Top 10 items that kids would take with them to another planet:
1. TV (36%)
2. Chocolate (35%)
3. Bed (34%)
4. Phone (32%)
5. Sweets (30%)
6. Computer (27%)
7. Crisps (25%)
8. Pet (24%)
9. Photos of friends and family (23%)
10. Favourite film (20%)

Top 10 items that adults would take with them to another planet:
1. Bed 31%
2. Phone 24%
3. Chocolate 24%
4. TV 23%
5. Photos of family and friends 21%
6. Tea and coffee 19%
7. Deodorant 18%
8. Favourite music album 16%
9. Computer 15%
10. Favourite film 14%

For 46% of children, the idea of one day visiting space is a key factor for their interest in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects, while the idea of planet-hopping has led the next generation of engineers and technicians to start thinking of ‘out of this world’ ideas for how popular products will work in space and on other planets.

When thinking about what humans will need in order to live on Mars, children believe humans will need specialist clothes, food and technology – and more than half (52%) of kids say they would like to design products especially for life on Mars.

The research was commissioned by the Institution of Engineering & Technology (IET) with the aim of inspiring children and young people to get into engineering and technology by demonstrating the huge number of jobs available to those with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills (research was undertaken by One Poll, between 22nd May and 2nd June 2019, with 1000 adults and 1000 children aged six to 16).

To highlight this, the IET teamed up with the iconic children's comic, The Beano to launch a competition asking children aged six to 13 to re-design an item they couldn’t live without in space. The winner was selected by a panel of judges from the IET, aspiring astronaut and IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year, Sophie Harker and the editor of Beano.

The winner was named as 10-year-old Elin, an aspiring astrophysicist from Worcestershire who designed a clarinet that she meticulously modified to work in space.

The clarinet was developed into a 3D prototype, before being sent 35km to the edge of space on a hydrogen balloon, where it experienced temperatures as low as -63°C, before hurtling back to earth at speeds of over 150mph. The clarinet was launched in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, landed safely by parachute over 70 miles away near Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire and was returned to the winner to keep.

Elin attended the launch and saw her design head up above the clouds to become the first clarinet in space. Beano illustrators also transformed her into a cartoon character starring alongside Dennis and Gnasher, which will feature in the 4th September edition of the comic.

Competition winner, Elin, 10, said: “I was so excited to hear I’d won the competition! I love everything about space and my dream job is to become an astrophysicist. I love playing my clarinet and would want to take it with me – but I realised I wouldn’t be able to play it while wearing a space helmet. To make it work, I designed it to have an air supply tank which would blow air through the instrument; I also added an amplifier to make sure I can hear the instrument, due to the change in air pressure and gravity.

It’s amazing that my clarinet design is the first in space! It was really inspiring to attend the launch and learn from the engineers on site.

IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year and aspiring astronaut, Sophie Harker (27), said: “As seen in the recent A-level exam results, science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects are becoming more popular, which is great news for the future of our industry. That said, it’s important that more is done to show young people the huge number of careers available in engineering and technology as jobs are created and humans continue to explore space.

The Life on Mars competition was a fantastic way to inspire the next generation of engineers and highlight the fun, interesting and broad range of careers on offer within the sector.

Elin’s design really captured the imagination of the judges and it was wonderful to see the intricate level of detail she’d considered to ensure the clarinet would work in space. It was an exhilarating experience to watch the clarinet head up above the clouds.

The IET aims to inspire the next generation of engineers and help to plug the nationwide engineering skills shortage. 203,000 people with engineering skills are required each year to meet demand through to 2024; however, according to Engineering UK statistics, it’s estimated that there will be an annual shortfall of 59,000 engineers and technicians to fill these roles.

For more information on this campaign, please visit: www.engineer-a-better-world.org/get-involved/


About the Beano competition:
The best invention was chosen on 17th July by the editor of Professor Danielle George from the IET and engineer, Sophie Harker.


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