In a survey of 1,000 children aged four to 14, 87% of children believe ‘saving the environment’ should be taught in schools. When asked why, over a third (38%) said it was because they are worried about the future of the environment.
The research shows that children have a good understanding of global environmental issues and the possible impact that human activity has on the ecosystem. Three-quarters (76%) of the respondents believe that human activity causes animal extinctions, while 71% believe that coral reefs could soon die off.
Pandas were the animals that children were most concerned about dying out, followed by polar bears and elephants. And when it came to animals that are already extinct, almost a third of children say they had never heard of the woolly mammoth, the dodo or the sabre-tooth tiger.
When it comes to the current political situation, the majority of children (86%) said they were worried about Donald Trump being the President of the United States.
‘It’s heartening to know that so many children care about the impact that pollution is having on the world around us. We are incredibly lucky to have an amazing array of animals in this world and a beautiful planet to inhabit so it is of paramount importance for our future generations to look after them. I would certainly agree that saving the environment should be a top priority in schools.’
Adventurer, environmentalist and National Young Writers’ Awards judge
The research was commissioned to shine a spotlight on the theme of this year’s National Young Writers’ Awards – ‘the future’. Children aged four to 14 are invited to write a story of 500 words or less set in 3017 in an effort to win a trip to Disneyland Paris and £500 worth of books for their school.
This year’s judge is Steve Backshall, author of the hugely popular Falcon Chronicles series of books made up of Tiger Wars, Ghosts of the Forest, Wilds of the Wolf and Shark Seas, released in October 2016.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom when it comes to the future. Kids are most excited about the new technology that is set to emerge (49%), followed by the possibility of time travel (26%) and then driverless cars (10%).
Similarly, children are very optimistic about how long they will live, with nearly two-thirds (62%) believing they will be enjoying life over the age of 100 – and 17% believing they’ll live to 200!
Over a third (37%) of children think that we will be living on another planet in future, and just over a tenth (13%) each think we’ll be underground or floating in the air in a pod.
But children of today’s biggest want for the future is a cure for cancer – with 59% saying so, above the ability for tourists to travel to space (18%).
‘This research has been very enriching as it shows just how much children of the UK care about the health of planet earth and understand the importance of looking after it for their children – and their children’s children! We chose this year’s National Young Writers’ Awards theme around ‘the future’ because it opens up so much potential for a child’s imagination. Their characters could be living in space, travelling back in time, working with robots, who knows? The opportunities are endless and we cannot wait to read the entries!’
CAREY ANN DODAH
Head of Curriculum Development at Explore Learning
Children are invited to write a story set in 3017 in under 500 words and post it to NYWA, Explore Learning, 74 North Street, Guildford, GU1 4AW or online.
The deadline is Friday 05 May
Click here for more about the National Young Writers’ Award.
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