24 Aug 2018

Digital Xtra Fund to award £75K to help boost digital skills in Scotland

A fresh round of funding will soon be available to inspire young people in Scotland to develop digital skills through high quality extra-curricular activities.

WHS Light Bike - AfGOn 30 August, Digital Xtra Fund will launch its next round of funding with a total of £75,000 available. Grants of up to £5,000 will be awarded to extracurricular activity providers that teach skills such as coding, data science, and computational thinking and help inspire Scotland’s next generation of designers, developers, and digital technologists.

Created in 2016, the goal of the Fund is for young people across Scotland to have access to digitally creative activities to increase the number of young people entering highly skilled digital careers, helping bridge Scotland’s widening skills gap.

Over the past two years, Digital Xtra Fund has supported 33 initiatives enabling them to engage more than 20,000 young people. The Fund has previously supported Code Clubs in public libraries across Scotland; Apps for Good, which teaches young people to develop apps with social benefit; and VEX Robotics, a global robotics competition.

Kraig Brown, Partnerships and Development Manager for Digital Xtra Fund, said: “Our aim is to inspire young people to create technology rather than just consume it, and help them understand the huge range of future career opportunities these skills provide. These careers aren’t just in tech companies either, they are across all sectors including finance, hospitality, healthcare, and agriculture too.

Team Velocity“The Fund has already supported some brilliant initiatives and the results have been fantastic. For example, last year the Fund supported the Scottish F1 in Schools STEM Challenge which taught students to design, build, and race model F1 cars. From that, several teams qualified for the UK Finals in Silverstone with two all-girl teams from West Lothian now heading to the World Finals in Singapore, representing Scotland and Britain. This goes to show there is much untapped potential across Scotland which, with a little bit of extra support and expertise, is something we can easily unlock.”

Michael Hall, Senior Engineering Manager at Skyscanner who are a Key Partner of the Fund said, “Digital Xtra Fund is making a real impact and we are excited to be able to support digital skills initiatives from across Scotland. Inspiring the next generation to embrace digital learning and technology is vital for the future of Scotland’s tech sector, as well as our wider economy.”

WCS Coding Club - Gleniffer High, PaisleyDigital Xtra Fund brings together businesses, organisations, and individuals with a common will to help young people succeed in a digital world through an annual grant awards programme. Key Partners include Skills Development Scotland, Skyscanner, and Scottish Government, as well as Accenture, Baillie Gifford, BT Scotland, CityFibre, Fujitsu, Incremental Group, Micro:bit Educational Foundation, ScotlandIS, Sky UK, and Zonal.

The closing date for applications is 1 November and awardees will be chosen by a panel made up Digital Xtra Fund Partners and EdTech experts. Funding will be awarded to successful initiatives from mid-December 2018.

For more information on Digital Xtra Fund and to apply, visit digitalxtrafund.scot/apply.

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14 Aug 2018

CityFibre tackles digital skills gap in partnership with Digital Xtra Fund

CityFibre, one of the UK’s leading infrastructure providers, has pledged its support in tackling the digital skills gap in Scotland.

The company – which has created Gigabit Cities in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling – is partnering with Digital Xtra Fund as part of a commitment to help young people across the country.

Young people benefit from digital skillsLaunched in 2016 by the Digital Scotland Business Excellence Partnership, a collaboration of public and private sector organisations, Digital Xtra Fund became an independent charity in March 2017. The Fund aims to ensure that young people have the opportunity to develop the skills required to thrive in the digital age regardless of their gender, background, or where they live.

The partnership will see CityFibre lend financial support, in turn allowing the Fund to boost exciting extracurricular digital technology activities across Scotland such as Stirling High School’s Digital Learning Hub in partnership with CodeBase Stirling, The Prince’s Trust’s #PTDigiDay in Glasgow as part of their Achieve Programme, or Angus Young Engineers’ CAD/CAM Café in Angus.

CityFibre has already shown its commitment to supporting a growth in digital skills across Scotland, having connected a number of schools to its full fibre networks. That infrastructure is laying the foundation for young people to use cutting-edge digital tools and unlock e-learning initiatives such as coding and app-building – skills which will only grow in value in the years to come.

James McClafferty, Head of Regional Development for CityFibre, said: “Digital Xtra Fund is playing a key role in helping young people learn the skills they will need to succeed in a digital future. It is crucial that they are supported by industry, which is why CityFibre is delighted to come on board as a key partner.

CityFibre helps connect schools across Scotland“The full fibre networks we are building across Scotland and the rest of the UK will be vital in helping to unlock the digital potential our young people have, and ensure they are not held back by our current infrastructure. As digital connectivity becomes more and more essential, we have to ensure our young people are capable of making the most of its potential. We look forward to working with Digital Xtra Fund and to identifying projects to support across Scotland.”

In addition to schools, CityFibre’s ultrafast networks are also accelerating the digital capabilities of businesses, local councils, libraries and community centres and the company is determined to help ensure Scotland becomes one of the world’s best connected places.

That vision is fast becoming a reality as CityFibre embarks on its partnership with Vodafone which will see cities transformed through the ‘Fibre to the Premises’ programme. This will bring Gigabit-capable full fibre to one million homes and businesses across the UK by 2021 – with Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Stirling among the first cities announced.

Recent research by economic consultancy Regeneris examined how the economy would benefit from full fibre connectivity, quantifying the impact to cities over 15 years. Across that time period – when many of today’s school pupils will be entering the employment market – there is a clear benefit to full fibre in areas including productivity, innovation, worker flexibility and health.

For example, in the four cities in Scotland where CityFibre is operational – Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling – there is a predicted £458m impact in terms of productivity and innovation.

Kraig Brown, Partnerships & Development Manager, Digital Xtra Fund, said: “It is a very exciting time to partner with CityFibre as they begin to transform the digital landscape of the UK and bring gigabit speed connectivity to entire communities. The high-quality initiatives supported by Digital Xtra Fund will spark that first interest in digital technologies and equip young people with the skills and experiences they need to succeed in a digital age, but it is organisations like CityFibre who will help fuel long-term possibilities for the next generation.

“Key to a strong digital future is an environment where businesses big and small can develop and grow uninhibited by ageing technology and infrastructure. Unlimited bandwidth has the potential to change the digital landscape for today’s young people as much as email and mobile phones did for my generation.”

 

About CityFibre:

CityFibre is the UK’s leading alternative provider of wholesale full fibre network infrastructure. With dense duct and fibre footprints in over 40 cities throughout the UK, it provides a portfolio of active and dark fibre services to its customers which include service integrators, enterprise and consumer service providers, local authorities and mobile operators. CityFibre has also recently partnered with Vodafone to bring ultrafast Gigabit-capable full fibre broadband to up to one million UK homes and businesses by 2021.

CityFibre is based in London, United Kingdom, and is privately owned by a consortium of Antin Infrastructure Partners and West Street Infrastructure Partners, a fund managed by Goldman Sachs.
www.cityfibre.com

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09 Aug 2018

Micro:bit Educational Foundation provides additional support for initiatives backed by Digital Xtra Fund

I heart micro:bitMicro:bit Educational Foundation has donated 1,200 micro:bits to extracurricular digital skills initiatives supported by Digital Xtra Fund.

Six initiatives across Scotland will benefit from a total of 1,200 micro:bits as part of their support from Digital Xtra Fund. The hardware, donated by Micro:bit Educational Foundation, will enable Apps for Good, Inverness Science Festival, McLaren High School, CodeBase Stirling, The Prince’s Trust, and West College Scotland to deliver activities beyond the initial funded programme run and help inspire even more young people into digital technologies.

The Micro:bit Educational Foundation’s vision is to inspire every child to create their best digital future by enabling children around the world to get creative with technology and invent in their schools, clubs, and at home. Similarly, Digital Xtra Fund is striving to give every young person in Scotland access to digitally creative activities regardless of their gender, background, or where they live by providing grant awards for exciting initiatives which inspire young people to understand and create with technology, not just consume it. Both organisations were created in 2016 and share very similar goals, presenting a natural opportunity to work together in Scotland.

Credit: Apps for Good

Credit: Apps for Good

The six initiatives received grants as part of the 2017/18 Digital Xtra Fund grant awards to deliver a variety of exciting digital skills initiatives across Scotland. Each have a unique approach to engaging young people with digital technology. For instance, Apps for Good teaches young people how to build, market and launch digital solutions to address challenges faced by their community and a total of 332 micro:bits will be distributed to nine schools across Scotland who have enrolled in their Internet of Things course. The course explores the benefits and potential issues surrounding IoT and introduces participants to the technology underpinning IoT devices. Students learn how to build circuits using sensors and actuators so that they can understand the principles behind the technology. Resources are based on the micro:bit and Arduino microprocessor boards, so having the hardware on hand is key to learning the material. Schools will also retain the hardware, allowing them to reuse it to deliver future activities.

During last year’s Apps for Good IoT course, the award-winning solution ‘SafeStep’ was created using micro:bits by students at Dunoon Grammar School. It consisted of a range of potentially life-saving rugs with inbuilt pressure sensors that determined if somebody had fallen and uses an app to alert carers or loved ones.

Credit: Micro:bit Educational Foundation

Credit: Micro:bit Educational Foundation

West College Scotland will take a different approach to engaging young people with the micro:bits sharing a total of 500 units between three new coding clubs at Renfrewshire secondary schools and 27 primary and secondary teachers who took part in a training session hosted by WCS in association with Microsoft Education, Renfrewshire Council, and Paisley YMCA. The session focused on increasing teachers’ confidence and encouraging the use of coding in the classroom with each teacher receiving a set of micro:bits for use in their classroom. This training is vital to creating a strong ecosystem of computing activities in Renfrewshire as these teachers will now manage the current coding clubs as well as initiate new ones with the assistance of STEM Ambassadors and senior school pupils.

Kavita Kapoor, Chief Operating Officer, Micro:bit Educational Foundation said, “The impact of this initiative has been shown to be very positive and the Foundation is very proud to have supported the scheme ”

Kraig Brown, Partnerships & Development Manager, Digital Xtra Fund said, “Since 2016, initiatives supported by Digital Xtra Fund have engaged nearly 20,000 young people across Scotland. The real legacy of the Fund will be a strong ecosystem of extracurricular activities who have the right hardware and educator confidence to continue giving young people the opportunity to get hands on and creative with technology. Support from organisations like Micro:bit Educational Foundation is key to achieving this legacy.”

Digital Xtra Fund is currently developing the 2018/19 grant awards supporting digital skills initiatives across Scotland, many of which use the micro:bit to engage young people. The Fund is supported by a range of industry partners who share a common will to help young people succeed in a digital world including the Micro:bit Educational Foundation. The Foundation is also in the midst of rolling out their biggest and most exciting micro:bit coding challenge to date – the global micro:bit challenge – and has commissioned Lancaster University’s Department of Educational Research to research ‘Using Micro:bit Devices in Teaching and Learning’. The study seeks to explore how teachers and students have been using the micro:bit to support teaching and learning in computing as well as in wider cross-curricular ways.

 

About Micro:bit Educational Foundation

Micro:bit Educational Foundation’s vision is to inspire every child to create their best digital future. The Foundation is enabling children around the world to get creative with technology and invent in school, in clubs, and at home. The micro:bit is a handheld, fully programmable computer that was rolled out across the UK in 2016. It’s 70 times smaller than the original BBC Micro computers used in schools in the early 1980s, and now it has built-in sensors, an LED display and a Bluetooth radio, so it’s instantly interactive.

Started by the BBC and a team of partners, Micro:bit Educational Foundation is a non-profit organisation continuing the micro:bit programme and bringing it to schools and children around the world. The Foundation was established with the support of our founding partners in September 2016. Micro:bit Educational Foundation is a UK based organisation and redistributes the bulk of any surplus money generated into providing free devices to exceptional micro:bit educational programmes across the globe.

http://microbit.org/

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18 Jul 2018

Zonal supports Scotland’s next generation techies with Digital Xtra Fund

Leading Scottish technology firm, Zonal, has teamed up with Digital Xtra Fund to help fund technology initiatives for young people across Scotland.

The funding will help guarantee that even more young people have access to digitally creative activities and give them a better understanding of the future career opportunities digital skills provide, regardless of their gender, background, or where they live.

ZonalEdinburgh based Zonal was recently voted Family Business of the Year 2018 and for almost 40 years has been designing and delivering technology solutions for the hospitality sector, including its market leading EPoS system, Aztec. Today, it employs around 550 people with over 200 located at its Tanfield headquarters.

Head of Human Resources, Catriona Dick, said: “Our chief executive’s father, Ralph McLean, devised the UK’s first EPoS solution for his hotel in order to keep track of sales and stock. Fast forward 39 years and Zonal is number one across the UK when it comes to providing the hospitality sector with technology innovations and we are keen to make sure the next generation have the skillset in place to keep us in pole position.

“We have been impressed by the work of Digital Xtra Fund and are delighted to play our part in supporting more young people as they discover the fantastic range of job opportunities open to them in the blossoming world of digital technology.”

The support from Zonal will form part of the Fund’s annual grant awards for high-quality digital skills initiatives in Scotland and will include visits to the firm’s HQ with mentoring support for students seeking a career in technology.

Kraig Brown, Partnerships & Development Manager, Digital Xtra Fund said: “We are very excited to welcome Zonal as a Partner of Digital Xtra Fund. Zonal is a highly successful family owned technology company and very proud of its Scottish heritage. The company is a great innovator and shares our commitment to bridge the digital skills gap through partnership and collaboration. We look forward to working with the team at Zonal to help inspire more young people across Scotland.”

Photo by Rory SempleDigital Xtra Fund was originally established in 2016 and funded through the Digital Scotland Business Excellence Partnership whose partners included both public sector and industry representatives. In March 2017, Digital Xtra Fund became an independent charity to enable it to work with a wider range of partners. In its first year as a charity, the Fund supported 11 fun and engaging digital skills initiatives across Scotland ranging from coding clubs in rural areas to designing apps and technology for social good.

Zonal is the leading provider of integrated hospitality management solutions to over 16,000 leisure and hospitality businesses across the UK. For nearly 40 years, the company has been working closely with clients to enhance the customer experience through market leading technology, experienced people and a partnership approach to business.

 

About Zonal:

Zonal began in 1979 when the McLean Family identified the need to monitor sales, stock, and wastage in their family hotel near Edinburgh when they noticed shortfalls in stock and takings. Zonal founder, the late Ralph McLean, invented a solution to manage and control operations and the first EPoS system was created.  After being adopted by a number of regional breweries and pub groups, the family hotel was sold to grow the business from their offices on Forth Street in Edinburgh. The Forth Street site remained the company’s head office until 2014 when it moved to state of the art premises at Tanfield.

Zonal has developed and evolved from a small Scottish business to a company that employs over 450 people whilst still maintaining its proud Scottish heritage. Today, Zonal solutions are used daily in over 15,000 leisure and hospitality businesses across the UK, ranging from restaurant and pub groups, night clubs to, garden centres.  The company’s full product suite of technology solutions enable Zonal to offer a fully integrated service to any hospitality business.

https://www.zonal.co.uk/

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10 Jul 2018

Baillie Gifford partners with Digital Xtra Fund to invest in digital skills across Scotland

Known for investing in digital tech companies from Silicon Valley and Shenzhen, Baillie Gifford is partnering with Digital Xtra Fund to invest in digital tech skills here in Scotland.

Digital Xtra Fund is delighted to announce a partnership with global Investment Managers, Baillie Gifford. Digital Xtra Fund is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) which supports extracurricular digital technology activities across Scotland, giving young people opportunity to learn advanced digital skills regardless of their gender, background, or where they live. Backed by businesses, organisations, and individuals with a common will to help young people succeed in a digital world, the Fund provides grant awards for activities which inspire, engage, and enable young people to be digitally innovative and creative, and helps them understand the variety of future career opportunities these skills will make available.

BG Partnership AnnouncementDigital Xtra Fund became a charity in March 2017 to enable it to work with a wide range of industry partners. Last year, the Fund awarded grant awards for 11 exciting, high-quality initiatives across Scotland such as Stirling High School’s Digital Learning Hub in partnership with CodeBase Stirling. The initiative saw pupils from SHS deliver a variety of Raspberry Pi based workshops to six primary schools in the area creating a sustainable ecosystem of young developers in Stirling.

Helping young people and the community is part of the culture at Baillie Gifford. For more than 100 years, it has been a feature of the Edinburgh community and has a long history of supporting initiatives which make positive differences in the areas of the arts, education, and sports. Baillie Gifford’s support for Digital Xtra Fund will extend their already considerable CSR programme and give more young people the skills needed to succeed in an increasingly digital world. Baillie Gifford recognises it is important to foster these digital skills as more and more companies look to recruit young digital talent and increase their diversity to grow and achieve success. Baillie Gifford’s successful track record of finding and investing in emerging and growing tech companies speaks to their ability to also recognise and support strong digital talent.

Mark Urquhart, Partner at Baillie Gifford, said: “As investors, we have long observed the powerful impact which technology can have in terms of changing lives and improving access to opportunities. We are happy to be able to support the exciting work of Digital Xtra Fund in trying to encourage similar outcomes in Scotland through wider use of technologies.”

Kraig Brown, Partnerships & Development Manager, Digital Xtra Fund, said: “Our partnership with Baillie Gifford marks a new chapter for Digital Xtra Fund; as a financial company, they are our first “non-tech” partner, however, through their work with some of the world’s most successful tech companies as well as their investment in their own digital infrastructure, they recognise the necessity for young people to learn high-level digital skills to succeed in any sector. Their support illustrates the important role digital technology plays across all parts of the Scottish economy and how Digital Xtra Fund is perfectly placed to be the de facto young people’s digital skills charity for all sectors.”

 

About Baillie Gifford:

Baillie Gifford is an investment management firm wholly owned by 44 partners, all of whom work within the firm. It was founded in Edinburgh in 1908 and still has its headquarters in the city today. As of 31 March 2018, Baillie Gifford has £177.6 billion under management and advice in specialist equity, fixed income and multi-asset portfolios for a global client base.

Whether through their financial or community investments, Baillie Gifford believes the best ideas spring from thinking about future possibilities, not short-term probabilities. They are committed to partnering with dynamic organisations who strive to make Scotland a better place to live, work and visit. https://www.bailliegifford.com

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04 Jul 2018

Inverness Science Festival: Community Coding

Sphero

This year Digital Xtra Fund has introduced over 3,200 young people to digital technologies through supporting 11 high-quality initiatives across Scotland. Since January, we’ve highlighted each of these initiatives, taking a closer look at how they inspire, enable, and engage young people to be digitally innovative and creative, and give them a better understanding of the future career opportunities digital skills provide.

 

Community Coding in the Highlands

Our final blog looks at the Inverness Science Festival, delivered by the University of the Highlands and Islands. Through a broad programme of community and schools’ events, this project introduces young people to inspirational events and stimulating digital technology, giving them the chance to get hands on and excited about coding, no matter their location or economic background.

With a focus on remote and rural schools, this multi-faceted project trains teachers and volunteers to support science, technology, engineering, maths and digital extracurricular clubs (STEMD), provides equipment, administration and resources to coding clubs, creates a pool of trained mentors, and inspires people through lectures, workshops, and hands on events at their exciting annual Science Festival.

Inverness Science Festival 2Over 1,500 students from the Highlands took part in this year. Primary school pupils have had the opportunity to participate in digital-based workshops and presentations, learning about coding, computer game creation, and hardware and programming, giving them experience of digital signals, binary code, Light Bot, Scratch, Code Bugs, Spheros, and Ardunios. School teachers and S6 pupils have been given support and training to boost their knowledge and confidence, and will now host STEMD clubs for S1-S4 pupils. In addition, the Inverness Science Festival took place in May, offering digital-based interactive pop-up activities at their popular Family Events, alongside structured workshop sessions.

Giving young people access to and opportunity to get hands on with digital equipment and technology has been key across this project. Support from Digital Xtra Fund has allowed Inverness Science Festival to invest in digital equipment, including code-a-pillar, Spheros, micro:bits and Bit:bot robots, Raspberry Pi, Arduino rocket kits, and snap circuits. By offering this equipment and their expertise to schools, clubs and community groups, the Inverness Science Festival breaks down barriers caused by a lack of local equipment, knowledge, or funding. Support from Digital Xtra Fund will also help create a lasting legacy as the equipment will remain available long-term for local groups to borrow free of charge from the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Boy Assembling Robotic Kit In Bedroom

Evelyn Gray, STEM Administrator at the University of the Highlands and Islands said, “The team at Inverness Science Festival have loved being part of this year’s Digital Xtra Fund initiatives. The support has enabled us to successfully expand our current digital offering. Our regular workshops stimulate students’ interest in digital technologies while the availability of equipment that we can ‘loan out’ enables us to build upon this enthusiasm, allowing students to continue the learning journey at their own pace back at school.”

Digital Xtra Fund’s annual grant rounds, which support the Inverness Science Festival and many other inspirational projects, are made possible by the valued support of Scotland’s tech industry, supplying sponsorship, insight, and in-kind support that all go towards our goal of giving every young person in Scotland access to a digitally creative activity. Find out more about supporting Digital Xtra Fund and inspiring Scotland’s digital future.

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15 Jun 2018

Sky UK teams up with Digital Xtra Fund to support digital tech activities in West Lothian

Digital Xtra Fund is proud to announce a new partnership with Sky UK to grow and develop even more high-quality extracurricular digital technologies activities for young people in West Lothian.

Last month’s Tech Nation 2018 Report painted a very positive picture for the UK technology industry, with strong signs of development coming from Scotland’s key tech hubs including Livingston in West Lothian. Livingston was highlighted as one area with above-average tech employment, which is key to inspiring more young people to consider a career in digital technology.

As the main private sector employer in West Lothian, Sky UK recognises the important role it plays helping young people succeed in an increasingly digital world, especially as a major technology company itself. They have teamed up with Digital Xtra Fund to grow and develop high-quality computing science activities for young people in the region.

Digital Xtra Fund is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) determined to give every young person in Scotland access to digitally creative activities regardless of their gender, background, or where they live. Backed by businesses, organisations, and individuals with a common will to help young people succeed in a digital world, the Fund delivers grant awards for activities which inspire, engage, and enable young people to be digitally innovative and creative, and gives them a clearer understanding of the future career opportunities digital skills provide.

Team AcceleRaceDigital Xtra Fund was established in 2016 and originally funded through the Digital Scotland Business Excellence Partnership. In March 2017, the Fund became an independent charity to enable it to work with a wider range of industry partners. Last year, grant awards were provided for 11 exciting, high-quality initiatives across Scotland including the highly successful F1 in Schools STEM Challenge which saw two all-girl teams from West Lothian qualify for the F1 in Schools World Finals in Singapore.

As a hugely recognisable brand found in millions of homes, Sky knows it has a responsibility to affect real change, whether through its Sky Sports Living for Sport programme or Sky Academy, which works with young people from primary school right through to starting their career to build digital skills and experience. Since opening in 2012, more than 85,000 young people have visited Sky Academy Studios in London and Livingston to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes at Sky. In November, it launched Sky Academy Studios at its Italian headquarters in Milan.

Sky is constantly striving to develop a talented, capable, and dedicated workforce committed to creating success for all its stakeholders. The company recognises that investment in the next generation through programmes like Digital Xtra Fund and Sky Academy is crucial to the progression of the technology, media and entertainment industries.

Ronnie Corse, Head of Technology at Sky, said: “Sky Technology Scotland are delighted to be working with Digital Xtra Fund to help engage more young people in digital technologies. Technology is the foundation of Sky’s business and is the driving force behind all our products and services. As one of the biggest employers in West Lothian it is important that we reach out and support the local community. This partnership gives us a great opportunity to build on the existing relationships that we have made with local schools and colleges and to further promote the exciting careers available to young people in Technology & Digital.”

Kraig Brown, Partnerships & Development Manager, Digital Xtra Fund, said: “Sky UK is well recognised as a leader in the UK entertainment and communications industry, an industry that young people are very interested in. This makes partnering with Sky a very exciting opportunity for us and the initiatives we support. We are really looking forward to working with their team to not only engage more young people in tech in West Lothian, but to also show them the wide range of interesting and innovative careers right here in Scotland”

 

About Sky UK:

Sky UK is part of Europe’s leading entertainment and communications business. With over 22.5 million customers across UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria, and Italy, Sky makes life easier by entertaining and connecting people. Sky is constantly ensuring it is the home of more of the best content from around the world, with sustained market-leading innovation across multiple platforms, delivered by a trusted brand that offers exceptional customer service.

Sky is also committed to using their platform to inspire, create, and act alongside delivering strong and sustained financial performance and returns. Sky seeks to make a wider contribution to the communities in which they live and work through supporting local digital tech, sport, and environmental initiatives. https://www.sky.com/

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14 Jun 2018

Angus Young Engineers: The CAD/CAM Café

Angus Young EngineersAngus Young Engineers (AYE) are an afterschool engineering education based charity, dedicated to steering young people into education and careers involving STEM. This year, with support from Digital Xtra Fund, AYE are building on the successful projects they have delivered since 2003, with the launch of The CAD/CAM Café, a programme to facilitate peer-to-peer learning at Forfar Academy and primary schools in the catchment area.

Taking advantage of Angus Secondary schools’ timetables, which gives all secondary school pupils Friday afternoon off, The CAD/CAM Café is a digital-skills employability project that works on two levels to inspire young people into the digital world of work, and to fill local skills gaps in digital manufacture.

The CAD/CAM Café

Angus Young EngineersThis year a group of 20 pupils aged 12-16 from Forfar Community campus will get the chance to take part in a programme of workshops on 3D Computer Aided Design and Manufacturing, 3D Scanning, and Digital Manufacturing using 3D printers and 2D laser cutters. Working in groups of four, the young participants will take on role play jobs that reflect the local industry. Supported by AYE’s industry mentors and STEM ambassadors, pupils will gain valuable employability skills as they progress through the 20 week programme – working towards certificates of Digital Manufacturing Confidence, with bronze awarded after 10 weeks, silver after 20 weeks of the programme, and the opportunity to achieve a gold award by acting as mentors and tutors to a local primary school.

DronesThe second aspect of The CAD/CAM Café will see the 20 pupils from AYE introduce 230 P6 pupils in 3 urban and 5 rural primary schools to a 3D scanning and printing activity that the Café participants have been developing. Primary school pupils will work in groups to scan their peers’ heads to make 3D portraits, be introduced to 3D CAD, navigate Thingi-verse and 3D print an object to complete a design task to make a drone flight-ready. As with the Secondary school programme, pupils will have the opportunity to roleplay exciting real-life situations from the digital tech sector like designing and testing drones on missions to deliver antidotes to remote locations. Each group will work with a secondary school mentor who is working towards their Gold Digital Manufacturing Confidence certificate, with support from other Senior Young Engineers Leaders and the schools’ primary school transition programmes.

As with many of the Fund’s supported projects, AYE are committed to inspiring girls into STEM, with a particular focus on promoting this project to girls. Woman AYE coaches act as positive role models to young female participants, and AYE have also established a link with Girl Guiding in Forfar, running regular taster sessions to attract girls into STEM-based activities after school.

Bob Baldie, Chairman of AYE, said, “The grant from Digital Xtra Fund has given Angus Young Engineers the ability to engage and inspire more young people across Angus through digital skills-based activities. These activities enhance their employability chances while giving insight into future STEM careers, especially in the increasingly important area of digital manufacturing.”

Angus Young EngineersAYE’s CAD/CAM Café is one of 11 initiatives supported by Digital Xtra Fund’s annual grant awards, contributing to our goal to give every young person in Scotland access to a digitally creative activity. These awards are made possible by the valued support of the Fund’s partners, sponsors and funders. To help us continue this work in 2018/19, find out more about supporting Digital Xtra Fund and inspiring Scotland’s digital future here.

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25 May 2018

West College Scotland: Renfrewshire Coding Clubs

Inspiring young people to become the next generation of coders and technologists, West College Scotland’s Renfrewshire Coding Clubs are uniquely placed to inspire pupils, college students, and teachers through a programme of extracurricular activities, a network of college STEM Ambassadors, and a CPD programme to engage teachers in the local community.

Originally launched in 2016 with support from Digital Xtra Fund, this year sees West College Scotland expand their Coding Clubs to another 3 Renfrewshire secondary schools in partnership with Renfrewshire Council’s Digital Participation team and the Education Department. Support for the expansion has been generously provided by BT Scotland. BT is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in 180 countries and recently confirmed their continued support of Digital Xtra Fund into 2019.

 

Renfrewshire Coding Clubs

West College ScotlandThe Renfrewshire Coding Clubs are aimed at S1 and S2 pupils who will soon be thinking about their elective subject choices. The afterschool Coding Clubs deliver activities in a fun and informal way that engages young people, builds their skills, and stimulates their interest in computing science and digital technologies. Senior staff from the College’s computing faculty work with a team of West College Scotland STEM Ambassadors to run the weekly clubs, recruited from the College’s HNC and HND students. This provides the students with a unique opportunity to share their knowledge and enthusiasm for computing science with school pupils, while giving the college students valuable work experience that supports their current studies and their future careers in STEM.

The Coding Clubs are fun and exciting, engaging young people with hands-on computing experiences such as the micro:bit, which allows them to learn to code using a block programming-type language and create games, graphics, and sounds. Pupils get a glimpse of emerging and new technologies too, with sessions on virtual reality tools, held at West College Scotland’s Virtual Reality Lab on their Paisley Campus.

West College ScotlandAlongside the Coding Clubs, West College Scotland has also delivered CPD sessions in association with Microsoft Education, Renfrewshire Council, and Paisley YMCA to Renfrewshire primary and secondary school teachers. Focused on increasing the teachers’ confidence and encouraging the use of coding in the classroom, these sessions are vital for the legacy of this project as these teachers will take over managing the current Coding Clubs, as well as initiating new ones, with the assistance of the STEM Ambassadors and senior school pupils. Additional support for the CPD sessions and Coding Clubs comes from The Micro:bit Foundation, who donated 500 micro:bits to this project, giving each teacher their own classroom set to help make coding in the classroom fun and easy.

West College Scotland principal and chief executive Audrey Cumberford said: “New and emerging technologies are transforming the workplace and the skills people will need for the jobs of tomorrow. At West College Scotland our ambition is to be a high performing digital college. We recognise the vital role we play in supporting and developing the digital skills of the young people in our region. We are proud of the partnership with our local schools, Renfrewshire Council, BT Scotland and Digital Xtra Fund.”

West College ScotlandBT Scotland has supported Digital Xtra Fund since its launch, and its valuable support has allowed the Fund to inspire young people across Scotland with digital technologies. Brendan Dick, BT Scotland director, said: “BT is right behind Digital Xtra Fund because we believe every young Scot needs to learn digital skills as a basic along with reading and writing. West College Scotland coding clubs engage young people in a fun and informal way and it’s great that more S1 and 2 pupils are getting the chance to learn skills which could potentially lead to a career in digital technology. It’s vital that industry works with educators and the wider public sector to tackle the digital skills shortage and prepare young people for the future world of work.”

West College Scotland’s Coding Clubs is one of 11 initiatives supported by Digital Xtra Fund’s annual grant awards, contributing to our goal to give every young person in Scotland access to a digitally creative activity. These awards are made possible by the valued support of BT Scotland, a Digital Xtra Partner, and many others in Scotland’s tech industry, through sponsorship, donations and in-kind support. To help us continue this work, find out more about supporting Digital Xtra Fund and inspiring Scotland’s digital future here.

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09 May 2018

McLaren High School: STEM@McLaren Festival

Since January, we’ve been looking at the 11 initiatives supported by Digital Xtra Fund in 2018; initiatives which will engage over 3,200 young people in digital technologies. With projects ranging from coding workshops to designing model Formula 1 cars, from programming problem-solving robots to learning about lighthouses, Digital Xtra Fund has proven the ways in which young people can learn about and be inspired by digital tech are broad and wide-ranging.

 

STEM@McLaren Festival

McLaren HS DronesContinuing this diverse range of projects is McLaren High School’s STEM@McLaren Festival. This initiative is aimed at S3-S5 pupils at McLaren High School in Stirling, supporting them to design and build creative STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) projects which will be presented to industry experts and the general public at the school’s STEM Festival in Summer 2018. McLaren High School is the only secondary school in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park and serves the largest rural catchment area in mainland Scotland.

In 2018, there will be 50 young people taking part, each developing their own project inspired by STEM which they will then go on to present at the school’s STEM@McLaren Festival. Projects are varied and cross-curricular, but all will involve elements of digital technologies. By encouraging pupils to choose their own subject matter and then think creatively about it, pupils are applying STEM concepts to their own interests and hobbies which may not be included in traditional STEM themes or subjects.

Plans being worked up this year include: a collapsible laser harp, designed by a young music-lover where the harp’s strings are replaced by lasers controlled by a Raspberry Pi; a programmable robot hand; an electric skateboard controlled by a single board computer; a programmable infinity mirror; and a project looking at factors that affect facial recall at crime scenes using computer generated composite photos designed by a young person interested in forensics.

McLaren HS AppsBy encouraging young people to tackle complex problems by breaking them down into a series of smaller problems, these projects will teach computational thinking and design as a process. Participants are encouraged to work on their projects primarily in their own time but will also receive support and advice from industry experts and academics, giving them first-hand experience of planning and project management, alongside improving their communication skills, networking, resilience, judgement and decision making.

Martin Macmillan, STEM co-ordinator at McLaren High School said “The STEM@McLaren Festival is all about inspiring the next generation of engineers while delivering vital skills in computational thinking and problem solving.  Working with Digital Xtra Fund has enabled us to break down the barriers that exist in providing extra-curricular activities in a rural area.  It has also helped us target the gender imbalance that exists within the STEM industries, with the Festival having an equal number of female and male participants.  Feedback from our students indicates they recognise that the skills they are learning are applicable to all of their school subjects and are also essential skills that they can carry throughout their life regardless of future career plans.”

McLaren HS MicroscopesThe STEM@McLaren Festival is one of 11 initiatives Digital Xtra Fund is supporting in 2018. This is made possible by our sponsors and funders who contribute to our goal of giving every young person in Scotland access to a digitally creative activity. Find out more about supporting Digital Xtra Fund and inspiring Scotland’s digital future.

 

McLaren High School’s STEM@McLaren Festival will take place on Saturday 8th September with 50 pupils demonstrating their projects, alongside a robotics competition with teams from 8 Scottish primary schools. You can follow this project on their Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/McLarenSTEM

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