NEW YORK — For the entirety of recorded history man has strived to explore the unknown. Now that there isn’t all that much left of the Earth to explore, it’s only natural that humanity has turned their eyes up towards the stars. Much has been made in recent years of man’s potential pilgrimage to Mars for colonization, and according to a new survey, many children believe humans will indeed live on the red planet within their lifetime.
The survey, commissioned by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), found that about half (48%) of the children polled agree they will live to see humans living on Mars. A total of 1,000 children between ages 6 and 16 participated in the survey, along with their parents.
It seems that much of that focus on space may be due to younger generations’ lack of optimism when it comes to the Earth and climate change. About 60% of respondents said they are anxious about the Earth’s environmental problems, and 34% don’t think enough is being done to address these issues.
With this in mind, it makes sense that 49% believe humans will soon turn to space for alternative places to live in the future. In fact, 61% of children even believe eventually the Earth will be entirely uninhabitable.
Whether or not that actually happens, a similar number (59%) expect to vacation in space at some point in their lives.
It isn’t just young people who are worried about the Earth’s condition either; two-thirds of surveyed parents said they are “future-proofing” their children to ensure they have the engineering skills needed to handle an Earth threatened by climate change. In all, 37% of surveyed parents said they would like their children to choose an extracurricular activity that is engineering-related, such as math club, science club, or coding. The survey shows that STEM extracurricular activities are actually more popular than music (34%) and drama (33%) lessons.
All of this focus on space and other planets is swaying young people’s education choices as well, with 46% of surveyed children saying they have taken an interest in engineering and technology. In fact, engineering was the third-most-popular profession choice among surveyed children, and 16% of child respondents said they would choose to focus on space-related engineering.
Historically, the majority of engineers have been men. So, it is encouraging to see that 36% of the children who said they are interested in engineering as a career were girls.
“The future of space exploration will require the ingenuity of as many young people as possible with the right skills,” says IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year Sophie Harker in a statement. “Showing young people – and especially young women – that STEM careers have infinite possibilities is vital.”
Especially if they hope to be among the first to enjoy life on Mars, some day.
The survey was conducted by OnePoll.