Science Minister David Willetts has underlined his commitment to engage the public with science, after a recent survey published showed that whilst there is an increasing appreciation for science, people feel less informed about it.

The Public Attitudes to Science 2011 survey finds that 82 per cent of people agree that “science is such a big part of our lives that we should all take an interest” and 86 per cent say they are amazed by the achievements of science. These proportions have been steadily increasing since 2000. Participants were similarly positive about the potential impact of science on economic growth.

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said:

“Science, technology, engineering and maths are vital to economic growth. It’s encouraging that people are increasingly interested in research and new developments. However, more disappointingly, at the same time they feel less informed. People want more information and to engage with these subjects in a way that’s relevant to them. That’s a very clear message which Government has an important role in responding to.

“That’s why we have a £13 million commitment in the science budget this year alone for outreach in schools and public engagement. This will support flagship schemes such as the Sciencewise Expert Resource Centre, which gives the public opportunities to get involved in shaping future science and technology policy. We have also committed to renewing the £6.3m support for STEMNET, an organisation that helps young people understand the amazing range of careers that can come from studying these subjects.”

Paul Jackson, Chief Executive of EngineeringUK, said:

“The Public Attitudes to Science report 2011 provides useful insight for organisations like EngineeringUK. While it’s encouraging to learn about growing public interest in science, it’s also worrying to note the outdated, stereotypical views about what a scientist is and that future potential scientists and engineers (those aged 16-24) are less informed about science and see STEM careers less positively. This is something that EngineeringUK, working with colleagues across the science and engineering communities, must address to ensure the future supply of scientists and engineers who are so important to our economic growth.”