Santa loves STEM

Need something to get you in the festive mood? If cracking open that Secret Santa tin of G&T right now would raise questions in the office, just indulge in a spot of feelgood YouTubing instead: The Institute of Engineering and Technology recently released these animated poems linking engineering to Christmas and its trappings.

We used our science engagement reflection tool to muse over them, and picked up on a few really positive things they do.

First of all, the most obvious is that they link into cultural references that many children and families are familiar with (and excited about right now!) – the night before Christmas poem, Santa’s sleigh, gift giving – and use these to tell stories about engineering and what engineers do.

They subtly depict engineers (male and female) as science people but don’t reinforce stereotypes. OK there is a pair of glasses on the scientist guy, but overall they’ve avoided the white-coat, crazy hair look. We also like how the engineer visiting the school reveals everyday and/or inspiring feats of engineering such as mobile phone batteries and self driving cars – things that have relevance and currency in young people’s lives.

And, as the videos promote choosing STEM-based gifts for children this festive period, they support what the research has found, i.e. that engaging in science-related activities outside school is good for children’s science capital.

Finally, they use non-intimidating language and a bit of a novelty vibe that means they will get circulated; teachers might play them for their students in the classroom, gift-buying adults might send them to each other. Goes without saying, but if you’re going to create content with a message, make it something audiences will share so half the work is done for you.

Thinking more broadly, and beyond the festive period… Have you seen, or created anything, that taps into cultural references and helps connect to a wide audience? What about stereotype-challenging ways of representing science people? We’d love to hear what you’ve found…

Thank you for following along on this journey with us in 2017! Here’s to a productive, curious, transformative 2018.

Happy Holidays!

 

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