Mum and Dad left untapped as kids trust Google for science support

The Royal Institution’s L’Oréal Young Scientist Centre commissioned a One Poll survey of 1,000 children aged 11-17 and 1,000 parents to discover how the traditional sources of homework help were changing.

  • Big Bang Fair
    Credit: Alice Best


Saturday 16 March 2013, London, UK. Science-savvy parents might know more about the Solar System than their children but more than half (56%) of UK children would bypass Mum and Dad and consult Google when struggling with their science homework.

The Royal Institution’s L’Oréal Young Scientist Centre commissioned a One Poll survey of 1,000 children aged 11-17 and 1,000 parents ahead of their exhibit this weekend at the Big Bang Fair, the UK’s biggest science show, to discover how the traditional sources of homework help were changing.

Even with their classroom days long behind them a fifth (20%) of parents could correctly arrange a list of the planets in order of distance from the Sun. This compared with just 3% of children aged 11-17 who could identify the order correctly, with almost half (49%) unaware that Earth is the third planet from the Sun.

Despite parents coming up trumps in their basic science knowledge, kids are quick to look elsewhere for help when struggling with their science homework. 

When asked which people and resources they would be most likely to consult if faced with a difficult question when doing science homework, more than half (56%) of children chose Internet search engines compared to just 37% who would trust their parents to help.

The shift of traditional homework resources moving online is clear. Wikipedia was found to be consulted more often than textbooks (23% vs. 20%) and 18% of children answered that they regularly rely on online educational resources.

56% - Internet search engines (e.g. Google)

37% - Parents

28% - Teacher

23% - Wikipedia

20% - Textbooks

18% - Specific online educational resources (i.e. Ri Channel, BBC, How Stuff Works, Khan Academy)

15% - Friends

10% - Other family members


Parents aren’t being left behind by the exodus towards online resources though. Almost three quarters (64%) of parents stated that they were confident that they could help with science homework or would know where to find trustworthy sources to consult.

Dave Porter, Manager of the L’Oréal Young Scientist Centre commented that: “There is a plethora of resources available for homework help but it is important for parents to support their children in discovering the most reliable ones to use. The fact that our own online resource the RiChannel ( received over million views last year alone demonstrates that online is becoming the main destination for parents and children looking to connect with the world of science.”

The Royal Institution’s L’Oréal Young Scientist Centre will be exhibiting at the Big Bang Fair this week for the third year running. The fair will welcome around 65,000 school students, teachers and parents to the ExCel London between Thursday 14th March and Sunday 17th March 2013. The L’Oréal Young Scientist Centre are estimating about 4,000 visits to their stand where attendees will have the opportunity to design, make and take-away their own lip balm. No two lip balms will be the same!


More information

For more details contact:

Hayley Burwell

The Royal Institution   

020 7670 2991

Notes to Editors

About the L’Oréal Young Scientist Centre

The Royal Institution and L’Oréal have created a laboratory facility at the Royal Institution in central London, which provides children aged seven to 18 and their teachers with an interactive, experimental space in which to explore science.  The Centre aims to promote curiosity and investigation-led learning as well as offering access to advanced technology and experiments outside of the normal school remit.

About the Royal Institution

The Royal Institution was established in 1799 with the purpose of ‘diffusing science for the common purposes of life’. Over 200 years on, we’re a charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science through our public programmes for adults and education initiatives young people, science video channel, Faraday Museum and history of science activities, scientific research and the famous CHRISTMAS LECTURES.

At its home on Albemarle Street in Mayfair, the Ri is where scientists such Humphry Davy, Michael Faraday, James Dewar, William and Lawrence Bragg and George Porter discovered 10 chemical elements, won 14 Nobel Prizes, made world-changing discoveries in the laws of electromagnetism and molecular biology, and pioneered public science lectures and science events for children.

More information at and

 About L’Oréal

L’Oréal was created by a chemist – Eugene Schueller over 100 years ago and science has been at the heart of the company since then. L’Oréal employs 3,500 scientists worldwide, invests €665m in research and development and patents over 600 new discoveries each year. It is passionate about inspiring young people in the world of science and its collaboration with the Ri and The L’Oréal Young Scientist Centre reflects this.

L’Oréal is the world’s largest cosmetics company; present in over 130 countries with 68,900 employees world-wide.  The company had a turnover of €22.46 billion in 2012, an annual increase of 5.5% (like-for-like).  L’Oréal is the only cosmetics group that is present in every distribution channel: mass market, hair salons, department stores and pharmacies.  Its brand portfolio includes: L’Oréal Paris, Garnier, Maybelline, Soft Sheen Carson, Matrix, Redken, L’Oréal Professional, Kérastase, Vichy, Diesel, Inneov, La Roche-Posay, Lancôme, Yves Saint Laurent Beauté, Biotherm, Kiehl’s, Shu Uemura and Armani and Ralph Lauren fragrances.  The company acquired The Body Shop in 2006.