Parents stumped by children's tech questions offered help

Child and adult watch planes
Image captionAlmost two-thirds of parents admitted giving incorrect answers to children’s science questions

Questions on science and technology from children stump most parents, research suggests.

Some 83% of 1,000 parents polled said they had been unable to answer science, maths and engineering questions.

But, in an online session run by Mumsnet and the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), experts will give parents answers to queries like: “How do planes stay up?”

The event is part of a week-long campaign to boost engineering careers.

IET president Naomi Climer said Tomorrow’s Engineers Week aimed to “inspire and nurture” future talent.

Expert help

Almost two-thirds (63%) said they had given a child an incorrect answer instead of admitting they were clueless, while 61% were so afraid of being wrong they avoided answering altogether.

Some 59% of parents admitted thinking their children knew more about engineering and technology than they did, while more than one in 10 (12%) referred the question to the other parent.

“The findings have given us some interesting insight into how poorly equipped UK parents are when it comes to tackling their child’s often tricky questions,” said Ms Climer.

Girl with electronics
Image captionMany parents believe their children know more about engineering and technology than they do

The IET has put together a top team of engineers to answer those questions, live on Twitter for an hour, starting at 13:00 GMT on Wednesday, including experts from fields as varied as computing, design, architecture, science, space travel, sound, lighting and engineering.

Muddled mums and dazed dads are asked to post their questions using the hashtag #AsktheEngineers – and wait for expert responses.

Tomorrow’s Engineers Week and the IET’s own Engineer a Better Worldcampaign hope to inspire teenagers to consider some of the “amazing careers” possible in engineering.

Events in the first week of November include a special Big Bang Fair at the Houses of Parliament on 5 November, where teenagers will demonstrate their science and engineering skills to MPs.

Elsewhere, workshops and demonstrations take place all week, with scientists, engineers and designers across the UK describing careers ranging from medical engineering, coastal defence and bridge-building to manufacturing processes, power production, energy saving and the arts.