GlaxoSmithKline and the McLaren Group have announced a new science education initiative to help young people into science and engineering careers.

The ‘Scientists in Sport’ education programme is designed to use the excitement of the science behind Formula 1 to encourage an interest in science subjects at school.

The two UK-based firms said in a statement that recent research suggests not enough roles in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) occupations are being filled.

So GSK, in conjunction with McLaren, has designed the Scientists in Sport programme to work with teachers to help inspire 11-14 year olds to continue their science studies and help fill that gap. 

This extends GSK’s on-going strategic partnership with the McLaren Group, which began in 2011, and saw the firms exchange ideas on how to speed up R&D and manufacturing on GSK’s side, while helping McLaren with their nutrition needs.

GSK’s president of R&D, Patrick Vallance, said: “Young people in the UK have a great enthusiasm for practical, hands-on science. Through Scientists in Sport we want to harness and build that initial enthusiasm and encourage young people to really think about where a career in science could take them.

“As a science-led organisation, we are passionate about supporting the next generation of scientists who can drive forward the UK’s science base. And by teaming up with the McLaren Group to develop this exciting programme, we’re confident that we have created something very special for students.”

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team principal, Martin Whitmarsh, said: “Formula 1 is one of the world’s most exciting sports, pitting fearless, highly skilled drivers against one another.  It’s very fast, very noisy and very competitive.  But beneath the sporting contest is some of the most advanced technology on the planet and no racing could happen without the scientists and engineers who develop our cars. 

“It’s vital that for the good of Formula 1, and more importantly for the good of society, that young people are inspired to study science and maths.  Scientific careers are extremely important and can be very exciting. We are happy to support GSK’s ‘Scientists in Sport’ campaign to help get that message across.”

The Scientists in Sport programme fully supports the science curriculum for 11-14 year olds and provides teachers with resources, including interactive activities, lesson plans and lab ideas, and worksheets for use to help bring STEM to life in the classroom via a website.