Sport science and engineering in education

Abstract

Statistics from the British Higher Education Statistics Agency show that, from 1996 to 2000, student numbers in the UK rose by 7.6%. During the same period numbers of engineering students declined by 7.5% whereas in computer science there was an increase in numbers of 24.3% and in media studies of 64%. Recent reports by the Confederation of British Industry, the Department of Trade and Industry, and the Royal Academy of Engineering agree that more students of high potential are required on engineering courses. These organisations also suggest that schools, colleges, universities and employers must co-operate to make this happen because the future supply of graduate engineers is diminishing. How can we attract students to study engineering and then keep them in the profession?

The National Curriculum documents in Britain aim to offer high educational standards in all areas. Subjects most pertinent to engineering are Science (particularly the physics component), Design and Technology, and Information and Communication Technology, perceived to be difficult by many students.

In affluent countries, at least, people have an increasing amount of leisure time; concurrent with this is the drive to encourage them to spend money on the time. Children of school age are part of this movement and most enjoy sport, either actively or as consumers.

Teaching engineering ideas through sports, therefore, seems one way to foreground engineering in a way likely to appeal to their students. This paper describes a project which aims to do just this - Sports Engineering in Education (SEE). The aim is to introduce and promote science, engineering, technology and sport to students aged 7-16 (with possible extension to other groups) using sports engineering.

By providing innovative, web-based, interactive resources, directly linked to sport and the Science and DT curricula, both qualitative and quantitative evaluations showed that SEE can make a significant contribution to raising the profile of engineering-related subjects in schools.

Authors

Dr. Alison J. Cooke - Cooke Associates