Young scientists challenged by GSK and McLaren to help drive science behind Formula 1™

GSK and the McLaren Group announce new science education initiative to inspire young people into science and engineering careers

Issued: London UK

GSK has today announced a new programme for its ‘Scientists in Sport’ education initiative using the excitement of the science behind Formula 1TM to encourage an interest in science subjects at school.

The new Scientists in Sport campaign will be officially unveiled at the Big Bang Fair – the national science fair, which runs from the 14th – 17th March and will be attended by around 60,000 secondary school students and their teachers.

Recent research suggests not enough roles in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) occupations are being filled.1 The Scientists in Sport programme works with teachers to help inspire 11-14 year olds to continue their science studies and help fill that gap.  The programme is designed to use the power and excitement of sport to explain how STEM subjects can lead to both exciting careers and sporting success.

As part of GSK’s ongoing strategic partnership with the McLaren Group, the Scientists in Sport programme for 2013 incorporates activities that look at the science behind Formula 1TM, including a ‘Fast Forward Challenge’ competition. The Fast Forward Challenge is championed by the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes F1 team who are challenging schools to design a test to help improve the performance of their drivers.

The winners of the Fast Forward Challenge will have their test carried out by a member of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team and will have an exclusive opportunity to visit the McLaren Technology Centre, where the team trains.

Scientists in Sport won a Podium Award in 2012 for inspiring learning with a programme of activities for young people and their teachers about the science of anti-doping in sport. The pilot programme was inspired by GSK’s partnership with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. As Official Laboratory Services Provider for London 2012, GSK formed a partnership with King’s College London to provide facilities and equipment to enable King’s College London to operate a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited laboratory during the Games. Over 10,000 11-14 year old students across the UK took part in the 2012 programme, which included an ‘Anti-Doping Challenge’ competition.

GSK President of Research & Development, Patrick Vallance, said:

“Young people in the UK have a great enthusiasm for practical, hands-on science. Through Scientists in Sport we want to harness and build that initial enthusiasm and encourage young people to really think about where a career in science could take them. As a science-led organisation, we are passionate about supporting the next generation of scientists who can drive forward the UK’s science base. And by teaming up with the McLaren Group to develop this exciting programme, we’re confident that we have created something very special for students.”

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team principal Martin Whitmarsh said:

“Formula 1 is one of the world’s most exciting sports, pitting fearless, highly skilled drivers against one another.  It’s very fast, very noisy and very competitive.  But beneath the sporting contest is some of the most advanced technology on the planet and no racing could happen without the scientists and engineers who develop our cars.  It’s vital that for the good of Formula 1, and more importantly for the good of society, that young people are inspired to study science and maths.  Scientific careers are extremely important and can be very exciting. We are happy to support GSK’s ‘Scientists in Sport’ campaign to help get that message across.”

The Scientists in Sport programme fully supports the science curriculum for 11-14 year olds and provides teachers with resources, including interactive activities, lesson plans and lab ideas, and worksheets for use to help bring STEM to life in the classroom via a dedicated website. GSK also has hundreds of UK-based employees who are STEM ambassadors. They work in partnership with teachers helping to bring real life science from their many different roles and areas of expertise to schools through engaging sessions.

Teachers who want to sign up for Scientists in Sport or the Fast Forward Challenge should visit