Furthermore, a quarter use Wikipedia when faced with difficult science questions.
A study of 1,000 parents and 1,000 youngsters aged 11 to 17 has found that 56 per cent of students turn to internet search engines for science homework help, while 37 per cent consult their parents and 28 per cent ask their teachers.
It also found that 23 per cent turn to Wikipedia, a fifth look at textbooks, 18 per cent use online educational resources like the Ri Channel, the BBC, How Stuff Works and the Khan Academy, and 15 per cent ask friends.
The study, commissioned by L’Oréal and EDF Energy, found gaps in basic science knowledge across the generations.
Only 19 per cent of young people could correctly identify the order of planets from the sun while almost half were unaware that the Earth is the third planet from the sun.
Girls scored less well than boys, with 17 per cent of girls able to align the planets compared to 22 per cent of boys.
Older generations did not fare much better, with only 20 per cent of parents able to list the order of planets from the sun correctly.
Gwen Parry-Jones from EDF Energy said: “I started my career as one of the UK’s first female nuclear engineers and I’d urge youngsters – especially girls, as there remains a huge gender gap – to think about the doors science can open on their future career paths.
“We all need to do more across industries to help people discover science at an early age and build from there.”