The outreach of activities is being created by Glasgow-based charity SmartSTEMs, and backed by leading UK telecoms communication provider Commsworld, which secured the contract earlier this year to transform North Lanarkshire Council’s digital infrastructure.
Together with Young Enterprise Scotland, they want to encourage and develop the next generation of young STEM industry professionals right across the region.
The activity sessions are open to every single primary and secondary school, and are primarily focused on pupils from P5 to S2. The first series of activities will be delivered virtually and see Commsworld workers from handpicked positions in the company take part in a Q&A with pupils to give them a flavour of what their job is like and why it’s so much fun.
The schoolchildren will then take part in practical classroom-based workshops where they will be set tasks that boost their creative skills, such as designing an electric car or creating a hi-tech gadget that could help tackle climate change.
The first virtual session began this month at Plains Primary in Airdrie, where P5s and P6s spoke by video with Commsworld workers who shared their love of all things STEM and the children got the opportunity to ask some interesting questions. They then took part in a hands-on workshop using marshmallows and cocktail sticks.
SmartSTEMs will also host ‘hub’ events for hundreds of primary and secondary pupils at New College Lanarkshire’s Motherwell and Coatbridge campus. There they will meet face to face with Commsworld professionals, working in skilled roles right across the business, before taking part in exciting practical challenges to further test their ‘out of the box’ thinking and problem-solving capabilities.
Young Enterprise Scotland will also be engaging with primary and secondary schools to deliver its Circular Economy Challenge. The programme is designed to introduce the young people to the benefits and principles of the circular economy through case studies and interaction with business ambassadors.
Pupils will design a ‘circular’ product or service where everything has value, and nothing is wasted. They will then be given the opportunity to present their ideas to a judging panel of experts.
Bruce Strang, Chief Operating Officer at Commsworld, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be partnering with SmartSTEMs to deliver these exciting opportunities for pupils right across North Lanarkshire, as part of our community support programme.
“Commsworld’s mission is to inspire young people to become active participants in STEM education, and find out all about the fantastic careers that are out there. Together with SmartSTEMs, we want children across North Lanarkshire to learn about and understand the skillsets that they need to not only secure but also flourish in these professions.
“I myself am an example of someone who learned early on in life the value of a STEM education. I very much want today’s schoolkids to become tomorrow’s STEM experts.”
Stuart Macdonald, Founder and CEO of SmartSTEMs, said: “SmartSTEMs is very excited to be partnering with Commsworld to deliver workshops and activities to North Lanarkshire primary and secondary pupils, giving them a taste of the exciting careers available in the STEM industries.
“SmartSTEMs exists to widen access to STEM and help our young people realise their full potential. We help industry and education to collaborate and develop new talent, as well as delivering real social value and opportunity to communities not only in North Lanarkshire but right across the UK. Our partnership with Commsworld helps us do just that, and we look forward to delivering many more joint sessions over the coming weeks and months.”
Marie Leck, Head of Schools at Young Enterprise Scotland, added: “We are delighted to bring our Circular Economy Challenge to pupils across North Lanarkshire in partnership with SmartSTEMs and Commsworld.
“The partnership enables us to expose our young people to the benefits and principles of a circular economy through case studies and interaction with business ambassadors. It gives the learners a real-life context where they can develop their STEM skills and the enterprising skills they’ll need, no matter which path they take in their lives beyond school. This is a terrific opportunity for us to work jointly to inspire our young people into green and STEM jobs.”
Councillor Angela Campbell, Convener of Education, Children and Families, said: “This innovative and exciting project will both encourage and inspire the young people taking part to consider STEM subjects when it comes to their future career.”