Around 550 10–14-year-olds from Badenoch and Strathspey are taking part in educational and inspirational science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) sessions.
The curriculum-linked STEM activities are designed to reinforce the pupils’ classroom-based learning, allowing them to see real life applications in a fun and memorable way, as well as highlighting STEM sectors that are important to the Highlands and Islands.
As part of the Badenoch and Strathspey tour of its Pop-Up Newton Room, the Science Skills Academy (SSA) will have delivered 32 sessions, called Newton Modules, and by the end of the tour will have interacted with ALL P6-S2 classes from the Grantown Grammar School and Kingussie High School associated school groups.
Primary pupils have taken part in the Robotics & Mathematics Newton Module where they have investigated different ways of estimating, calculating and measuring distance and then used LEGO Mindstorms robots to assess their accuracy.
Secondary pupils have explored electricity generation and renewable energy sources, including wind and hydro, via the Renewable Energy Newton Module.
SSA is a partnership project led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) as part of the Inverness and Highland City Region Deal.
It aims to inspire more young people to become interested in STEM, encourage them to study these subjects at school and beyond, and raise awareness of the wide range of STEM careers available in the Highlands and Islands.
The Highland Newton Room Network has been created by the SSA in locations across the region including Thurso, Fort William, Dingwall and Inverness.
The Pop-Up Newton Room approach replicates the experience of visiting a Newton Room, with portable furniture and equipment and a dedicated member of staff to deliver Newton Module activities.
Emma Robertson, SSA project manager at HIE, said:
“One of the fundamental principles of the SSA is to ensure that all young people aged 10-14 years, in every part of the region gets equal access to inspiring STEM activities.
“We were delighted, after a challenging few months, to have trialled our pop-up Newton Room model with schools in the Skye and Lochalsh area at the end of last year and we look forward to delivering sessions in the Badenoch and Strathspey area.”
Alastair Kendal, Grantown Grammar School teacher said:
“It was great fun, and the kids enjoyed their day.
“It just shows the power of learning through play and discovery.
“All the kids came away with a far deeper understanding of energy and how our future energy needs can be met through the adoption of renewables.”
Claire Thom of Grantown Community Centre said:
“The Grantown Community Centre was delighted to be able to host SSA’s Pop-Up Newton Room.
“At this time of energy transition, encouraging the interest of young people in STEM subjects can only be to their benefit and that of the wider community.
“The Pop-Up Newton Room sat well with our Youth Work provision, and we were made well aware of the reaction that it provoked.
“It was a quality event, professionally presented.
“It generated a great deal of excitement among the young people in Grantown and surrounding villages and the feedback was tremendous.
“Thank you for giving our young people such a valuable opportunity and exposing them to such a stimulating event.”
The project brings together key organisations including Highland Council, the University of the Highlands and Islands, Skills Development Scotland, High Life Highland and NHS Highland, all working together to demonstrate this model of STEM delivery in a large rural area.
The partnership project is delivered by the SSA and is led by HIE with £3m from the Scottish Government.
The funding is part of the £315 million Inverness and Highlands City Region Deal, which is funded by the Scottish and UK Governments, The Highland Council and regional partners.
The Deal delivery is managed by The Highland Council.