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Pop-up STEM lessons inspiring rural Scotland’s next generation

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Since January, hundreds of school pupils across rural Scotland have been taking part in a four-month programme called “Newton Room” – a pop-up classroom inspiring the next generation with practical sessions on science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

Delivered by the Science Skills Academy (SSA) in collaboration with Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Transmission and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), this ground-breaking rural initiative is introducing the world of STEM to primary and secondary pupils in the Highland region, allowing students to gain hands-on experience whilst listening to passionate young professionals who work in these industries.

Energy will be the focus of the current series, with full-day learning sessions, delivered by SSA STEM engagement officers, enabling pupils to carry out practical projects and have access to STEM kit not available as standard in classrooms.

The aim is to ignite interest in STEM subjects and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.

Dr Emma Plato, STEM manager at the Science Skills Academy, welcomed the support of SSEN Transmission:

“Research tells us that engaging young people early with hands-on activities is key to helping them see their future in STEM. Working with SSEN Transmission will help us bring careers to life, as well as highlighting the 400+ jobs they are creating across Scotland this year.

“We welcome their commitment to developing young people in the Highlands, as they will be at the centre of Scotland’s energy transition, as well as space and blue economy sectors in the years to come.”

SSEN Transmission’s Head of Stakeholder Engagement, Chris Bell, said:

“As we deliver our £20bn investment programme in the north of Scotland over the next decade, it’s important that we leave a positive lasting legacy for communities in the areas we’ll be operating in.

“Partnering with the Science Skills Academy, who have an excellent track record in reaching school pupils across the Highlands, will help create the next generation of scientists and engineers and is one way we can work towards delivering that legacy.”

The pop-up sessions started in Portree in January and will run until early March before moving to Plockton later that month, and then onto Nairn for a week in April. Additional online sessions will supporting the in-person pop-up classes, run in collaboration with the Glasgow Science Centre, reaching more rural areas beyond the Highlands.

The Newton Concept, owned and managed by the non-profit foundation FIRST Scandinavia, was developed in 2003 to address challenges in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education in Norwegian schools. SSA is part of an international community of 45 Newton Rooms across 14 countries, reaching over 370,000 learners. Through creative collaborations and well-structured programmes, the initiative contributes to developing a workforce pipeline of the best and brightest individuals in the STEM fields.

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