Ask any child “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and the responses vary widely—doctor, scientist, computer game designer, firefighter, nurse, musician, athlete, etc. Few would say oilfield service worker, petroleum engineer or geologist—all of which are among the positions that are critical for the oil and gas industry. But results from a survey, which asked nearly 1,200 parents about their children’s job ambitions, show there is hope. From a given list of jobs, a survey conducted by YouGov and commissioned by BAE Systems and the Royal Air Force revealed that scientist was the top career path, at 15%, that parents said their children were keen to pursue, according to an article published earlier this year by The Independent. The survey showed that most parents (67%) said their children found science lessons fun; however, the survey also revealed that about one-fourth of the moms and dads surveyed believe their children find science difficult. This is the reason why industries dependent on science should lead fun and educational experiences that encourage children in not only science, but also technology, engineering and math. That is what BP is doing with its recently launched Ultimate STEM Challenge in the U.K. As part of the competition, open to 11- to 14-year-old students attending U.K. schools, children are asked to work in groups of two to four and put their STEM skills to work by helping the world explore, live and work in challenging environments. Students may pick from one of three challenges: keeping warm, keeping hydrated or keeping cool. Each team must create a short film or presentation that showcases their project. “The challenges to students have been developed to ensure they reflect the challenges BP faces as a business, from operating at the bottom of the ocean to the heat of the desert,” BP said in a press release. Students will get some assistance in that teachers will be given material to kick off the session. “Inspiration and support” will come via case studies that demonstrate how STEM is used to help BP overcome obstacles, social media linkups with BP scientists and local STEM ambassadors. The challenge follows BP’s Ultimate Field Trip, which targeted university students. “At BP, we know first-hand how important STEM subjects are to the future of the U.K.’s competitiveness in the global economy,” Ian Duffy, community development manager for BP in the U.K., said in the press release. “A key part of young people choosing STEM subjects is how strong a sense of self-identity and confidence they have in using those subjects. “Many young people effectively make that decision in the very early years of secondary school, so positive early experiences can have a powerful effect. Together with our partners at the Science Museum and STEMNET, we have designed The Ultimate STEM Challenge in order to help young people see that they can be our engineers and scientists of the future, benefitting themselves, their families and their communities,” he continued. BP’s efforts should be commended and duplicated by others in the industry. These childhood experiences are sure to factor into their future decisions. Contact the author, Velda Addison, at