4 Jun 13

Almost half of UK school children are unaware the Earth is third planet from the Sun

L’Oréal and EDF Energy are taking part in this year’s Cheltenham Science Festival, to encourage the next generation to embrace science and explore the exciting and varied career opportunities it offers.

Research carried out ahead of the festival to uncover the level of science knowledge across the generations shows that there’s work to do to improve our basic science understanding.

Only 19% of 11-17 year olds can identify the order of planets from the sun correctly, and almost half (49%) are unaware that Earth is the third planet from the Sun. Older generations didn’t fare better, with only a fifth (20%) of parents correctly arranging the list of planets.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the research also revealed that more than half (56%) of UK children would not trust their parent’s knowledge and bypass them for Google support when struggling with their science homework. But children’s trust in what their friends know is even lower, with just 15% turning to their mates for science-related homework help.

Despite recent reports around the growing popularity of science amongst the UK’s school children with the ‘Brian Cox’ effect, the research shows there’s still a knowledge gap. Encouraging children to embrace the basics from their early school years can help unlock rewarding career paths in research, science and technology. Workshops run by companies such as L’Oréal and EDF Energy at events like the Cheltenham Science Festival are an ideal place to start and they’re vital for getting children excited and involved in science.

Julie McManus, Science Director L’Oréal UK commented that: “Companies like L’Oreal, which have science at the heart of them, want to demonstrate how science underpins so much of what we do in modern society and the array of exciting career opportunities there are. That’s why we’ve worked with The Royal Institution to create the L’Oréal Young Scientist Centre, a laboratory that provides students and teachers with an experimental space to explore science. Its workshops have reached over 150,000 students, teachers and parents over the last three years.”

Gwen Parry-Jones, Safety and Technical Director for EDF Energy Nuclear Generation.

Gwen Parry-Jones, Safety and Technical Director for EDF Energy Nuclear Generation added: “A love of science can lead to many different career paths. I started my career as one of the UK’s first female nuclear engineers and I’d urge youngsters – especially girls, as there remains a huge gender gap – to think about the doors science can open on their future career paths. EDF Energy is engaging with millions of children through the Pod, our national schools programme, but we all need to do more across industries, to help people discover science at an early age and build from there.”

When asked which people and resources they would be most likely to consult if faced with a difficult question when doing science homework, more than half (56%) of children opted for Internet search engines compared to just 37% who would trust their parents’ science knowledge to help.

56% - Internet search engines (e.g. Google)
37% - Parents
28% - Teacher
23% - Wikipedia
20% - Textbooks
18% - Specific online educational resources (i.e. Ri Channel, BBC, How Stuff Works, Khan Academy)
15% - Friends
10% - Other family members

*Research results are based on a One Poll survey of 1,000 children aged 11-17 and 1,000 parents in the UK from 2013.

For more information please contact:

Charlotte Ryder James Treacy

Diffusion PR (L’Oréal Young Scientist centre) Diffusion PR (L’Oréal Young Scientist centre)

Email: charlotte.ryder@diffusionpr.com Email: james.treacy@diffusionpr.com

Tel: 0207 291 0230 Tel: 0207 291 0230

Matthew Carter-Burwell

Weber Shandwick (EDF Energy)

Email: mcarter-burwell@webershandwick.com

Tel: +44 (0) 207 067 0407

Katy Gandon Kristen Dodd

L’Oreal The Royal Institution

Email: KGANDON@uk.loreal.com Email: kdodd@ri.ac.uk

Tel: +44 (0)208 762 4136 Tel: 020 7670 2991

About the L’Oréal Young Scientist Centre

The Royal Institution and L’Oréal have created a laboratory facility at the Royal Institution in central London, which provides children aged seven to 18 and their teachers with an interactive, experimental space in which to explore science. The Centre aims to promote curiosity and investigation-led learning as well as offering access to advanced technology and experiments outside of the normal school remit. Its workshops have reached over 150,000 school children over the last three years. www.rigb.org/ysc

About L’Oréal

L’Oréal was created by a chemist – Eugene Schueller over 100 years ago and science has been at the heart of the company since then. L’Oréal employs 3,500 scientists worldwide, invests €665m in research and development and patents over 600 new discoveries each year. It is passionate about inspiring young people in the world of science and its collaboration with the Ri and The L’Oréal Young Scientist Centre reflects this.

L’Oréal is the world’s largest cosmetics company; present in over 130 countries with 68,900 employees world-wide. The company had a turnover of €22.46 billion in 2012, an annual increase of 5.5% (like-for-like). L’Oréal is the only cosmetics group that is present in every distribution channel: mass market, hair salons, department stores and pharmacies. Its brand portfolio includes: L’Oréal Paris, Garnier, Maybelline, Soft Sheen Carson, Matrix, Redken, L’Oréal Professional, Kérastase, Vichy, Diesel, Inneov, La Roche-Posay, Lancôme, Yves Saint Laurent Beauté, Biotherm, Kiehl’s, Shu Uemura and Armani and Ralph Lauren fragrances. The company acquired The Body Shop in 2006.