WHY SEEKER IS THE MODEL FOR ENGINEERING EDUCATION OUTREACH
27th August, 2020
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I bet you follow Seeker on TikTok don't you? I'm certain the readers of Connectivity and Tik Tok users make a Venn diagram so closely aligned that it looks like nothing more than a big circle.
Okay, well maybe you aren't a big Tik Tok user, but I bet your kids are. And, if they are interested in science, I bet they are one of the 32k users who have clicked 'like' on a seeker video — 9.1M times between them.
But maybe Tik Tok isn't the thing for your kids. Perhaps they are amongst the 4.5M people who follow Seeker on YouTube, the 8.6M on Facebook or the 436K on Instagram.
Seeker, owned by Group Nine Media, describes itself as a science and exploration channel, with the slogan 'always curious'. Some of its videos are presented, most by Amanda Dieseler who dresses like a cool Blue Peter presenter and pitches her tone somewhere between National Geographic and Tomorrow's World. Some are just clips, often without narration.
When they don't use voiceover, they often use IG (that's what the cool kids call Instagram) style text overlays and graphics. Seeker recognises that its audience might enjoy audio sometimes, but also understands that they often are using a platform where the sound is off.
A campaign waiting to happen
But why am I telling you all this? Well, Stone Junction is often approached by companies who want to inspire tomorrows engineers. We normally use the not-very inspiring phrase, 'STEM outreach' to describe this process.
And that's where it normally goes wrong. STEM outreach normally means local newspapers, building bridges out of straws and, if you are lucky, teaching children how to take an IPad apart.
The truth is that, unless you are building the Bloodhound, which to be fair, some of our clients actually are, or helping put astronauts into space, which again some of our clients are, the project itself might not be enough to genuinely inspire children.
But there is another way and it's inspired by Seeker. It's not easier, it's not cheaper and it's definitely not about anything other than inspiring a future generation of engineers. But it could be game-changing.
What the kids want
Modern children and teenagers are massively more technologically sophisticated than previous generations.
For instance, I have a Basics of SEO presentation that I deliver to marketing groups, like the Chartered Insitute of PR or the Chamber of Commerce, in which I ask what an algorithm is. When I deliver it to adults, about ten per cent of the room put their hands up and half of those get in wrong. They normally mumble something about Google.
When I delivered it to my ten-year old's classmates a couple of years ago, every single child in the room knew the answer and got it right. They might have got a bit excited afterwards, about robots and games consoles and AI, but they knew the answer.
Teaching them how to take an iPad apart doesn't help them very much. if they want to know how to do that, they just go on to YouTube and find a video. In fact, they probably won't be using an iPad in the first instance, because 'it's not the noughties anymore, you know Grandad?'
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Richard Stone is the founder of Stone Junction, a specialist STEM PR agency delivering international and digital PR and marketing services for scientific, engineering and technology companies.
His favourite recent engineering outreach programmes have been from Renishaw, Sandvik, SpaceX and the IET. But he thinks SpaceX had it easy — it has got spaceships, after all.
If you want him to run the world's greatest ever engineering outreach program for you, modelled on Seeker or not, email him on firstname.lastname@example.org. He loves a challenge.