Start of main content

Get your children involved in designing a backpack powered by STEM

Outfits that decompose after they’ve been worn out, mind-reading headwear and clothes that can regulate your temperature were the top fashion predictions by 5-13 year olds.

The top 10 predictions are:

  1. Biodegradable clothes (74%)
  2. Clothes that can regulate temperature (49%)
  3. Bionic trousers that can help people with disabilities to walk (41%)
  4. Clothes that give you energy (38%)
  5. Shoes that can generate electricity (35%)
  6. Adaptive clothing for people with disabilities (35%)
  7. A watch that can measure and boost energy levels (34%)
  8. A backpack that can heat food (32%)
  9. Clothes that grow at the same rate as you (28%)
  10. Clothes which can tell if you’re getting ill (27%) / heal you if you get a cut or bruise (27%)

Children also believe that fashion will play a key role in wider societal change and helping to solve sustainability challenges. The majority said that sustainable garments or those that improve health are more important than ‘looking cool’.

Fashion plays a significant role in kids’ culture with recognition of brands being established from an increasingly young age – 9 in ten children like to decide which clothes they wear and 84% choose the backpack they wear to school – one of the few opportunities to express their style choices amongst their friends.

But despite the top predictions linked closely to STEM, according to the research only one in 10 children think that engineers work in fashion and just 16% can understand how science and fashion are related.

To change that perception and spark their excitement about how STEM can help make their fashion predictions come true, we’ve partnered with global fashion brand HYPE. and Biophilica – winners of the IET and Fashion District Manufacturing Futures Innovation Challenge 2021 – to create the world’s first biodegradable backpack.

The prototype has been created to celebrate the launch of our Backpack to the Future campaign – a national competition inviting 5-13 year olds to design their own backpack with STEM-inspired gadgets or capabilities that help them do incredible things.

The winner of the competition will have a working prototype of their design made, which they’ll not only get to keep, but also see displayed in HYPE.’s flagship London store.

The competition is open between 27th September and 30th October 2022. To enter, children simply have to sketch their backpack design along with a description of how it works.

Entries will be judged on originality, feasibility, creativity and engineering practices by a panel of experts including Professor Danielle George from the IET, Dr Ciara McGrath, the IET’s current Young Woman Engineer of the Year, Bav Samani and Liam Green, co-founders of HYPE. and Mira Nameth founder of Biophilica.

Alongside the competition, the IET, Biophilica and HYPE. have released a ‘FactPack’ – a number of fun facts demonstrating to children the links between fashion and STEM – and illustrating the ways in which engineers and technicians are currently involved in the fashion industry.

‘Backpack to the Future’ is part of the IET’s annual Engineer a Better World campaign, which aims to encourage children and their parents to nurture their curiosity and think differently about careers in engineering.

Each year we target children’s passion points and interests and run a competition to get them thinking how engineering and technology is involved in everything all around them, and the variety of job roles on offer.

For more information on the campaign and to download the entry form and ‘Factpack’ - please visit our Engineer a Better World website.