A global survey carried out by the science-based technology company, 3M, has revealed that parents are sending mixed messages to their children about their relationship with science.

While more than nine out of 10 parents (94 per cent) want their children to be better engaged with science and 88% of all adults think a science-related career for children is a good choice, only 37 per cent say they regret not choosing one themselves.

To provide support and ideas for parents looking to foster a connection with science in their children, 3M and the British Science Association (BSA) have worked together to produce a guide featuring tips and advice.

Explore, Experiment, Enjoy is free to download and features a selection of everyday activities to engage families in science, signposting them to further information and resources.

Activities featured in the publication range from experiments in the home using everyday kitchen cupboard ingredients to taking to the great outdoors for everything from nature walks, to fossil hunting, beach cleaning and star gazing, as well as recommending that parents use their children’s hobbies – such as crafts, music or sport – to demonstrate that science is interwoven into many aspects of our lives and that everyday family activities can offer an enjoyable way of engaging with it.

Chief Executive of the British Science Association, Katherine Mathieson, said: “Science is not just a school subject or job, it’s a state of mind; a way of asking questions and exploring the world around us.

“Many people instantly characterise their relationship with science in terms of how much they know about it, or how confident they are with the perceived subject matter, as opposed to how much they enjoy science or engage with it as part of everyday life in the way that we might other things, such as music, sport or politics. The results of the survey underline the need for a better appreciation of just how fundamental science is to our society and culture.

“Parental influence is so very important to young people, and the results of the survey paint a really interesting picture. On the one hand, it’s heartening to see that the enthusiasm is there for encouraging their daughters and sons towards science-related careers, but on the other, parents may be unwittingly putting their children off by their own views and strength of feeling towards science being something that they don’t identify with themselves.

“Parents can counteract stereotypes about science by doing more to show how science and engineering is integral to daily life through the things that many families do already – such as cooking, sport, trips out, computer games and conversations following TV shows and films.”

3M technical director, Wynne Lewis, added: “3M has long been committed to supporting the teaching of STEM subjects in schools and colleges as a central focus for the company’s community programme in the UK.

“This research has further strengthened our resolve in seeking to engage both parents and children to ensure that they and the country as a whole value science and better understand the crucial role it can play in improving lives for everyone.”