Much of the world spent the last 24 hours reflecting on the mind-blowing feat of a man landing on the moon 50 years ago. A new poll of youth around the world—commissioned by LEGO—reveals that the number of aspiring astronauts in America may be dwindling.
Reality stars over real ones
The poll surveyed 3,000 school-aged children in the US, UK, and China. The results were disheartening for those working to make American kids care about careers in STEM. A clear majority of children surveyed (75%) said they expected that humans would travel and live in outer space during their lifetimes. However, children in the US and UK both revealed that their number one career aspiration was to be a vlogger/YouTube star. Out of five choices—astronaut, teacher, musician, professional athlete, vlogger/You Tuber—US and UK kids chose vlogger three times as much as an astronaut. Both countries had astronaut at last place in the survey.
Aiming for outer space
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the results were reversed in China. The number one occupation chosen by the children surveyed was astronaut, at a staggering 56%. Vlogger/You Tuber ranked last with 18%. China has a legacy of a much stronger focus on STEM education than the standard education in the West. This goes some way to explain the stark contrast between childhood career goals in the East and West, but of course, the reasons are many and related to the cultural and political landscape of each country.
Making space fun again
LEGO is committed to getting kids all over the globe excited about the realities of working in the STEM fields. With brick-building sets devoted to the women of NASA and the Apollo missions, the company has a legacy of promoting science to kids. The talk of reviving the US space shuttle program will undoubtedly help stoke interest in space careers again if it comes to fruition. In the meantime, it appears LEGO space kits will be the chief encouragers of Western school children’s STEM futures.