Historical: The first Dyson, the DC01.Historical: The first Dyson, the DC01.

Before Christmas, I was lucky enough to be invited to Dyson HQ in Chelsea to check out their range of cleaners, specifically the Dyson DC59 Animal, their newest handheld cordless vacuum. We saw Dyson vacuums through the ages and were chatted to by their top designers and engineers about all of the innovation which went into making the DC59 their smallest device, yet still giving it the same amount of suction as a full sized cleaner.

Dyson DC59 motorThe motor from a Dyson DC59. I still think it looks like Tony Stark’s ARC reactor…

The DC59 is a cordless device, which comes with a wall-mountable charger, which makes cleaning stairs and various nooks and crannies an absolute doddle, and the folk at Dyson HQ even got us bloggers involved in showing off exactly how powerful their machines were, in comparison to other popular brands of cordless cleaners (I’ll give you a hint…the Dyson whooped the butt of every other machine there!) We were even lucky enough to be given our very own DC59 to take home, and having been a Dyson devotee for the last 8 years, this was a real treat! (more about that in another post)

Tested By Bloggers - the DC59 gets a thorough workoutTested By Bloggers – the DC59 gets a thorough workout (that’s the lovely Amanda of Ana Mum Diary in the green cardy, wtsanding with Jen from Love Chic Living!)

However, as much as I was impressed by the technology on show, the thing that really got me thinking, and what I wanted to talk to you about today, is the James Dyson Foundation.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, James Dyson, the inventor behind all of the Dyson products, has set up a foundation which provides educational materials to schools to encourage children (and especially girls, from what I hear) to consider careers in technology, engineering and innovative fields. As a mother to two girls, this is hugely appealing to me as I think girls are often steered away from technological fields of work and, to me, that’s a crying shame. Females have just as much to offer to the world of technology and engineering as boys and by ruling them out, we’re not only perpetuating the glass ceiling but severely slowing down the technological advancement of the human race by cutting off half of our potential.

James Dyson himself said “At school I opted for arts, put off by all the formulae in science. There was nothing that combined the two – like design engineering does. I resolved to be an estate agent, then a painter, a surgeon, an actor, and an artist again. I only stumbled on engineering by accident and immediately decided what I wanted to do – make things that work better.”

Further to this, the Dyson Foundation website explains “Engineering is one of the most useful and exciting careers. Engineers are the people who can create practical solutions to the 21st Century challenges of sustainability, housing and an aging population. And we need more of them. We want young people to discover the satisfaction and creativity that’s bundled up in design engineering. With a little encouragement, natural curiosity for how things work leads to creativity and problem solving. And eventually the design engineers of tomorrow.

Science lessons should inspire students. Experimentation should live in hands not in books.

The Ideas Box and Engineering Box are free resources for teachers to bring design engineering to the classroom. Whether building a prototype out of cardboard or taking apart a Dyson machine, students discover engineering by using their heads and their hands to solve problems.

In schools and universities around the world we challenge young people to design solutions to everyday problems – all in 90 minutes. The outcome? Compost bins that combat climate change, inventive DIY tools and energy efficient ventilation systems.

We’re working to support the future Edisons and Brunels.

Each year we award over £650,000 to students around the world. The funding supports their project work – allowing them to develop and research new ideas, spend more time in the fabrication studio, designing and testing, and less time paying bills.

A £30,000 prize goes to the international winner to help transform the idea from a prototype to a commercial product.Our main focus is design and engineering but we also encourage and support medical and scientific research. We’ve donated over £9 million to these causes through grants, machine donations and fundraising endeavours lead by Dyson people.”

James Dyson Foundation

If you’d like your child (be they in primary, secondary OR university education) to benefit from the resources offered by the Dyson Foundation, their class teacher or head can request one of the educational packs straight from the website; either direct them to the site, or tell them to email The James Dyson Foundation to request an Ideas Box.