Page last updated at 00:10 GMT, Saturday, 13 March 2010

Queen invented phone, pupils say

C-3PO and Luke Skywalker
The man in this picture was first to the Moon, some pupils believe

One in 10 children thinks the Queen invented the telephone, a survey of children's science knowledge suggests.

Others gave credit for the invention to Charles Darwin and Noel Edmonds.

A fifth of the 1,000 primary and secondary pupils polled thought Star Wars character Luke Skywalker or Richard Branson was first on the moon.

Some 60% of nine and 10-year-olds thought Sir Isaac Newton discovered fire, the survey for science campaign Birmingham Science City found.

Despite these misconceptions, more children want to win a Nobel prize for science than the X Factor.

The survey of primary and secondary school children in the UK suggests there is some confusion about key scientific achievements.

Some of these findings will raise a smile
Dr Pam Waddell
Birmingham Science City

Just under a half of boys (49%) correctly pinned down gravity as Newton's ground-breaking discovery, compared with 76% of girls.

Just over a third of boys said Newton discovered fire, while the remaining 16% either said he invented the internet, or discovered the solar system or America.

Eight out of 10 boys correctly identified Alexander Graham Bell as the inventor of the telephone, compared with 69% of girls.

Dr Pam Waddell from Birmingham Science City said: "While some of these findings will raise a smile, it suggests that school children aren't tuned into our scientific heroes in the same way that they might be to sporting or music legends."

She suggested it was clear that primary school children had a real interest in science.

"In fact, nearly 70% of nine and 10-year-olds would like to be famous for winning a Nobel Prize in science, yet this drops to only 33% among 11 to 15-year-olds.

"It appears children are losing an interest in science at secondary school, so more needs to be done to excite teenagers about the subject and rekindle some of their early childhood aspirations," she added.

The poll was carried out online with a panel of 1,000 UK children in early March by OnePoll.



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