Select Committee on Science and Technology Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Institute of Materials

  The Institute of Materials has been concerned for some time with the extent to which interest in science subjects has declined, and this has adversely affected the number of entrants seeking further education in technology subjects.

  Materials-related industries within the UK across a wide range of size and diversity of product area are reporting a worrying shortage of technology students both entering and leaving post school education. A common concern voiced from young people and their parents is the apparent failure of the existing science curriculum to adequately relate to everyday life. Courses are considered too abstract and lack excitement as well as relevance. The facilities available for teachers in schools to demonstrate the science curricula is inadequate, ageing and often fails to work properly.

  Significantly, the materials content embodied within most physics, chemistry and to some extent biology curricula has the potential to establish practical relevance but unfortunately this theme is disparate, lacks co-ordination and lacks appropriate resourcing.

  To correct this imbalance you should be aware that the Institute of Materials is making a positive commitment to propose, resource and develop a new AS and A level in Materials Science. Such topics as biomaterials covering the science and technology of artificial hips and arteries, electronic materials for computing, communication and mobile phones, and new materials for sporting applications will be highlighted within the proposed curricula. This new course will span elements of both science and technology but would be relevant for design, engineering and medicine courses at university and college. It would be appropriate that the Committee is aware of this new proposal, which thus far has received positive encouragement from industry, school teaching staff and regulatory boards and would help to invigorate interest in science-based subjects.

February 2002

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