STEM Game Changers

Edinburgh College has been shortlisted for an award for its work in inspiring young people to become the next generation of innovators, pioneers and tech entrepreneurs.

The college is one of five finalists shortlisted in the Innovating in STEM education/training category at The Herald Global Game Changers Awards.

The awards, in their inaugural year, recognise and reward innovation and sustainability at an international level, across all business sectors.

The college has been nominated for its work in engaging local school pupils in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills.

The Innovating in STEM education/training category recognises a training or learning provider that creates impact in delivering skills for a sustainable future.

Demand for STEM skills is increasing across a number of industry sectors. Through its innovative STEM programme the college is engaging young people with STEM and helping them develop the skills and knowledge required to thrive in continuously changing industries.

To ensure STEM is embedded into young people’s learning as early as possible, in the 2016/17 academic year the college launched a programme aimed at engaging local school pupils.

The college’s STEM schools work included a new initiative which saw P7 pupils attending STEM experience days at the college.

Between February and June 2017, around 400 pupils from 12 schools in Edinburgh, Midlothian and East Lothian attended the experience days. They took part in practical sessions including rocket car drag racing and science challenges to help them understand the principles of STEM.

This was the first part of a transition programme that will bring the same pupils back to the college in S1, S2 and beyond to develop their skills and engagement with STEM further.

Ross High School deputy head teacher Neil Craik-Collins said: “At Ross High School and across East Lothian, we actively seek out rich, skills based, vocational learning opportunities for our pupils. The development of STEM skills, from 3-18, is a curricular priority. This project was a wonderful opportunity to build partnership relationships with the college, whilst introducing the new S1 (whilst still in nine different P7 classes) to both the college and their classmates. This was also an opportunity to encourage girls to get interested in industries like engineering. They had a great day and especially loved racing the rockets. We are now looking at how we progress these skills.”

The college will continue and expand other STEM projects, including the Codespace CSI project introduced in January 2017, aimed at getting 14-17-year-olds- particularly girls – excited about digital skills, helping to bridge the gender gap.

The project turned an Edinburgh College computing suite into a crime scene, with 21 pupils from local schools taking part. The pupils learned a variety of digital skills with the project culminating in an immersive murder mystery experience.

The programme will also develop in 2017/18 to incorporate the arts and explore how they are linked to STEM (effectively the programme will become STEAM – science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics). The college aims to embed the principles of STEM across all course areas.

Engineering lecturer James Kean said: “We’re bringing STEM to life and inspiring young people about the possibilities of STEM through practical challenges that show problem solving can be great fun.

“It’s so important that we’re preparing our young people to thrive in our changing industries, which are becoming more and more reliant on new technologies. We look forward to attending the award ceremony and hearing about the other innovative work happening across sectors to support our industries.”

Edinburgh College developing young workforce lead Deborah Robertson said: ““We are excited to have been shortlisted as finalists in the Innovating in STEM education/training category. Our STEM schools programme supports the college’s aim to deliver an innovative cross-curricular provision that reflects validated demand in areas of economic growth and prepares our students for successful and rewarding careers. With the launch of our STEM manifesto in October we will ensure Edinburgh College plays a leading role in supporting the development of STEM capability for the region.”

The award ceremony is taking place on Thursday 13 September 2017 at The Glasgow Science Centre.