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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03 May 2018

Skyscanner to help digital skills take off in Scotland with Digital Xtra Fund

Digital Xtra Fund is proud to announce a new partnership with Skyscanner, the global travel search engine. Skyscanner’s support will increase the number of digital technology initiatives for young people across Scotland; ensuring even more young people have access to digitally creative activities regardless of their gender, background, or where they live.

Digital Xtra Fund is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) which supports extracurricular activities that inspire, enable, and engage young people to be digitally innovative and creative while giving them a better understanding of the future career opportunities digital skills provide.

EISF Generation Science LEGO MindstormsDigital 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 it’s 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.

Skyscanner was launched in 2003 after CEO Gareth Williams felt there must be an easier way to find cheap flights for his upcoming skiing holiday. The idea of Skyscanner was originally drafted on the back of a beermat, and 15 years later, is now used by 70 million people per month. More than 900 staff are based in 10 offices around the world, including in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

As one of Scotland’s leading technology companies, Skyscanner shares Digital Xtra Fund’s ambitions to inspire more young people with technology and have become the Fund’s first Gigabyte Partner. Support from Skyscanner will be included as part of the Fund’s annual grant awards for high-quality digital skills initiatives in Scotland; and will help demonstrate to young people the breadth of exciting opportunities a future in tech can provide.

Michael Hall, Senior Engineering Manager at Skyscanner said, “Our founder, Gareth, took his first steps towards building Skyscanner at the age of 11, when he started learning assembly language with his dad, creating his own basic computer games. We’re delighted to support Digital Xtra Fund and are really excited to play a part in enabling more young people to discover the world of technology, like Gareth did all those years ago.”

Kraig Brown, Partnerships & Development Manager, Digital Xtra Fund said, “We are very excited to welcome Skyscanner as a Partner of Digital Xtra Fund. Support from one of the most well-known and successful tech companies to ever come out of Scotland speaks volumes about the value of working together to tackle the digital skills gap. As they say, many hands make light work and we look forward to working with the team at Skyscanner to help inspire more young people across Scotland.”

 

About Skyscanner:

Skyscanner is a leading global travel search site, a place where people are inspired to plan and book direct from millions of travel options at the best prices. They are unbiased and free, which means that the 60 million people who use them every month can trust our comprehensive range of flight, hotel and car hire options.  Founded in 2003, they employ over 900 staff, with offices in Barcelona, Beijing, Budapest, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Miami, Shenzhen, Singapore and Sofia. Skyscanner is part of the Ctrip group. https://www.skyscanner.net

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11 Apr 2018

Two all female teams from West Lothian heading to World Finals

Two all female teams from West Lothian will be travelling to Singapore for the World Finals of the F1 in Schools STEM Challenge in September after winning at Silverstone.

Team AcceleRace from Linlithgow Academy have qualified for the World Finals by winning the National Championships Development Class while Velocity Racing from Inveralmond Community High School have also qualified as Scottish Champions Professional Class. Digital Xtra Fund was proud to support Inveralmond Community High School as one of this year’s digital skills initiatives, enabling them to become Scotland’s first F1 in Schools Centre for Excellence and engage pupils from secondary schools across Scotland who are keen to take part in the Challenge.

Read more about both teams and the importance of supporting fun and engaging STEM activities to inspire the next generation of Scottish digital makers and technologists in this week’s DIGIT.

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04 Apr 2018

The Prince’s Trust: #PTDigiDay

Every young person in Scotland should have access to a computing or digital skills activity, regardless of their background, gender, or where they live. Perhaps that is why #PTDigiDay by The Prince’s Trust is so relevant. The Prince’s Trust work with some of Scotland’s most disadvantaged school-age young people through their Achieve Programme, delivered in schools within the most deprived areas in Scotland as defined by the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD). The Achieve programme is for young people who are experiencing challenges with attendance, attainment, or motivation and may be at risk of exclusion or not attaining the grades they are capable of.

 

#PTDigiDay Digital Taster & Industry Days

Support from Digital Xtra Fund has allowed The Prince’s Trust to develop an extra-curricular digital project, #PTDigiDay, aimed at young people who are disengaging from school and unlikely to have any knowledge about potential future digital careers. 30 young people, aged 13-16, will be selected from their Achieve Programme in Glasgow to take part in introductory lessons in digital media and coding, delivered by expert delivery partners, youth workers, and young mentors (aged 25 or under) from their corporate partners Dell EMC and NVT Group.

The #PTDigiDay Digital Taster & Industry days are designed to give young people a hands-on experience of working in the digital technologies sector using interactive and engaging practical activities. The first of these days was delivered in The Prince’s Trust Wolfson Centre in February, and further events are scheduled as part of the Trust’s Achieve and ‘Mosaic’ school-based programmes. Young participants have the opportunity to speak directly to employers, apprenticeship providers and colleges, who will also be taking part in the day, with the aim of encouraging young people to consider careers in the digital and information technology sector.

The Prince's Trust #PTDigiDay Split into two sessions, the Taster and Industry days’ aim is to introduce young people to digital technology in fun and creative ways: from creating prototypes for 3D printers, to basic games design, filming and editing in the morning; to learning how to code using micro-bit mini-computers in the afternoon in #generationcode – linking coding to real-world issues, with activity themed around Science and Technology, Health and Wellbeing, Personal and Global Citizenship and Creative Arts.

Over half of Scotland’s young people do not achieve 5 National Fives and those from disadvantaged backgrounds consistently do less well than their peers. There is an unacceptable gap in attainment and achievement between children from our most and least advantaged backgrounds, so this project will prioritise young people who are ‘at risk’ and looking likely to leave school within six months, who are unlikely to attain five National 5s, and those not engaging in any digital and/or information technology classes within their normal school curriculum. #PTDigiDay will break down perceptions of digital skills being a highly technical/mathematical subject, and show young people that careers in this area aren’t out of their reach.

The Prince's Trust #PTDigiDayCath Mitchell, Volunteers Executive and Sean Dimeo, Fundraising Administrator said, “Without support from Digital Xtra Fund, this project would not have been possible. Their backing has allowed us to recruit and further train our talented young mentors, as well as attract digital technology entrepreneurs to deliver stimulating activity sessions. Furthermore, with their support, we have been able to secure a supply of micro:bits for use after the project’s conclusion. This will allow young people to continue to hone their coding skills at their own pace and pass on this knowledge to peers. Thank you to Digital Xtra Fund for their support”

 

The Prince’s Trust is one of 11 initiatives Digital Xtra Fund is supporting in 2018, which will introduce over 3,200 young people to high-level computing skills. 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.

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28 Mar 2018

BT Scotland renews support of Digital Xtra Fund to help make high-quality computing science activities available to young people

BT Scotland has renewed its partnership with digital skills charity, Digital Xtra Fund. Its support will ensure high-quality digital technologies activities will continue to be available for young people in the Glasgow City Region.

Digital Xtra Fund is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) striving to give every young person in Scotland access to digitally creative activities regardless of their gender, background, or where they live. In partnership with industry, the Fund delivers grant awards for activities which inspire, enable and engage young people to be digitally innovative and creative, giving them a better understanding of the future career opportunities digital skills provide.

BT Partnership AnnouncementDigital Xtra Fund was originally established in 2016 and funded through the Digital Scotland Business Excellence Partnership. In March 2017, Digital Xtra Fund was spun out as an independent charity to enable it to work with a wider range of industry partners, with BT Scotland signing up to support the Fund from the outset. Last year, the Fund awarded grant awards for 11 exciting, high-quality initiatives across Scotland ranging from robotic competitions to designing model Formula 1 cars.

In 2017/18, support from BT Scotland helped develop coding clubs in Renfrewshire delivered by West College Scotland. This support gave young people from the west of Scotland the opportunity to build their digital skills; creating games, graphics and sounds, and discovering emerging technologies such as virtual reality.

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. It’s vital that industry works together with the public and voluntary sectors to tackle Scotland’s digital skills shortage and prepare young people for the future world of work. We’re proud to renew our support.”

Kraig Brown, Partnerships & Development Manager, Digital Xtra Fund said, “BT Scotland’s support for us as a new charity was hugely important to helping deliver the first round of grant awards. Equally, BT renewing their support for 2018/19, along with our other new partnerships, recognises the Fund is achieving what it set out to do and is now gaining momentum. We look forward to working with the team at BT Scotland to support some fantastic future initiatives and inspire more young people in digital tech.”

 

About BT

BT’s purpose is to use the power of communications to make a better world. It is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in 180 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband, TV and internet products and services; and converged fixed-mobile products and services. BT consists of six customer-facing lines of business: Consumer, EE, Business and Public Sector, Global Services, Wholesale and Ventures, and Openreach.

For the year ended 31 March 2017, BT Group’s reported revenue was £24,062m with reported profit before taxation of £2,354m.

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York. www.bt.com

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14 Mar 2018

Edinburgh International Science Festival: Robo Constructors

Alongside their annual festival, which is celebrating its 30th edition in 2018, Edinburgh International Science Festival also travels across Scotland each year from January to May with their primary schools outreach programme, Generation Science, engaging almost 60,000 children across all of Scotland’s 32 local authority areas. Generation Science inspires young people through a variety of exciting hands-on activities and workshops covering a wide range of STEM subjects from life sciences to digital technologies. It has been running for over 28 years and is the country’s largest and longest-running touring extracurricular STEM education programme.

 

Robo Constructors

This week’s blog, the 6th of our highlighted 11 initiatives, looks at how support from Digital Xtra Fund means this year’s Generation Science programme offers even more opportunity for young people to learn digital skills with their newest workshop, Robo Constructors. Ten schools in Dumfries and Galloway and South Lanarkshire will receive free workshops, allowing 300 of their pupils to take part in digital technology workshops that they would otherwise not have been able to access.

Robo Constructors WorkshopRobo Constructors is a fun, fast-moving workshop where pupils become mini-robot engineers, exploring open ended challenges to create their own novel, wacky and useful robots! Using Cubelets Robot Blocks, a simple and intuitive modular robotics system, young people will learn about the rules of robotics and logic as well as the steps behind the design process. They will discover how different components can change the behaviour of a robot, learn how different sensors can be used to control a robot’s movement, understand how to troubleshoot the construction of a robot to identify why it might not perform as expected, and use critical thinking, teamwork and problem solving skills to complete challenges.

Support from the Fund brings this workshop to schools which are amongst the most rurally isolated or suffer from the highest rates of deprivation, expanding the geographic reach of digital skills activities across Scotland. By making the workshop playful and fun, led by trained Science Communicators who make links between the workshop’s digital content and devices, companies and brands young people are familiar with, Robo Constructors will spark young people’s interest in computing science and digital technologies, encouraging them to continue studying these at school, and encouraging greater female participation in computing science.

Robo Constructors WorkshopJoan Davidson, Head of Education at Edinburgh International Science Festival, spoke about how Digital Xtra Fund is helping Generation Science to engage and inspire more young people and their teachers, “Generation Science is all about supporting the provision of science education in Scottish primary schools. We do this with a team of incredibly enthusiastic science communicators whose energy and passion for delivering engaging STEM activities inspires young learners and brings technology to life in the classroom. Working with organisations such as Digital Xtra Fund enables us to reach young people across Scotland wherever they may be. With the adoption of digital as part of the definition of STEM in the STEM education and training strategy for Scotland, it is vital that our young learners and their teachers have access to inspiring and engaging activities that not only cut across the curriculum but provide bridges to life outside the classroom and the wider world of work. There are many varied opportunities for our young people to engage and develop their digital skills and we will continue to support the development of this element of young people’s learning.”

 

Cubelets Robot BlocksGeneration Science is one of 11 initiatives Digital Xtra Fund is supporting in 2018, which will introduce over 3,200 young people to high-level computing skills. 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.

 

 #SciFive ticket offer

The 2018 Edinburgh International Science Festival will run from 31 March – 15 April. The programme is now live and is packed full of events for people of all ages. Teachers and students can also access £5 tickets for nearly 80 events in the Science Festival programme, thanks to their #SciFive ticket offer.

 Check out the programme here: https://www.sciencefestival.co.uk/whats-on

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01 Mar 2018

New College Lanarkshire: VEX Robotics Competition

VEX Robotics CompetitionInspiring young people into STEM using robotics, coding, and teamwork is the focus of the VEX Robotics Competition, an extracurricular programme where student teams design, build, and code robots to compete in an exciting global engineering challenge set annually by the Robotics Education & Competition Foundation based in Greenville, Texas. The modular robot kits and variable challenges also promote skills such as creativity, problem-solving, and computational thinking while teaching students about the design process.

Leading the charge to grow this global initiative in Scotland is an exciting collaboration between the Faculty of Computing & Creative Industries and the Faculty of Engineering & Automotive at New College Lanarkshire in partnership with VEX Robotics and secondary schools in North Lanarkshire. Digital Xtra Fund is proud to support New College Lanarkshire to help grow this thrilling activity as one of the 11 initiatives funded in 2018.

Hard at workThe study of robotics links to all facets of STEM and New College Lanarkshire have developed an exciting programme that encourages young people to learn through exploration via hands-on, problem-based learning experiences. This year, 38 young people aged 12-16 from Lanarkshire have taken on the challenge of becoming robot designers adopting the roles of computer programmers, CAD designers, engineers, and robot pilots.

Paul McKnight, Head of Operations at VEX Robotics Europe said, “We are hugely appreciative of the support from the Digital Xtra Fund in helping to grow the cluster of schools working with New College Lanarkshire. Each year we see the level of competitiveness grow as the knowledge and understanding of the students increases. Together Digital Xtra Fund and New College Lanarkshire are helping to inspire Scotland’s next generation of STEM leaders.”

In The Zone ChallengeThese young robot-engineers recently got a chance to show off their creations and celebrate their new digital skills at the VEX Robotics Scottish Regional Finals on 2 February at the New College Lanarkshire Motherwell Campus. Teams competed in 2018’s ‘In The Zone’ challenge accumulated points by stacking cones, scoring goals and parking robots. Coding was key to maximising points as the robots also operated autonomously for the first 15 seconds of each round, giving teams the chance to earn even more points. The two highest scoring teams were the Alliance of Koala-T from Braidhurst High School and Jamie and the Generics from Airdrie Academy with each of these teams qualifying to compete in the UK National Championships on 2-3 March in Telford.

2017 Scottish Regional WinnersKoala-T were also winner of the Regional Design Award, judged this year by Digital Xtra Fund. The Design Award is presented to the team that best demonstrates an organised and professional approach to the design process, project and time management, and team organisation. During the robot’s design process teams must maintain an Engineering Notebook, documenting the progression of their robot from initial idea through to final testing. This helps the teams better understand the engineering design process while also practicing a variety of real life skills that will benefit in their academic and professional futures. As well as competing in the UK National Championships, this win also gives Koala-T opportunity to compete for the Design Award at the National level too!

In addition to their Regional Competition and Design Award wins, Koala-T team member Melissa Rodger also recently won The Diana Award for her work with young people engaging and exciting them in engineering, especially young girls. The Diana Award is a legacy to Diana, Princess of Wales’ belief that young people have the power to change the world. Through her love of science, Melissa has devoted her lunchtimes and evenings to lead a robotics club for younger, more vulnerable pupils within her school, creating a fun and welcoming learning environment. Her physics sessions are now so popular that there is a waiting list of pupils who want to join.

Airdrie Academy Power of 5Encouraging more young women to engage in STEM and computing science is a key aim of this initiative overall. Evidence of New College Lanarkshire’s success is apparent simply by the number of young women taking part, but it is exemplified by Power of 5 – the first all-female team from Airdrie Academy who also reached the UK Finals last year and were runner-up for the Design Award at this year’s Regional finals with their robot ‘KJ’. The team named their robot KJ after the iconic NASA mathematician, Katherine Johnson, whose computations have influenced every major space program from the Mercury missions through to the Space Shuttle, and who was the focus of 2017 film Hidden Figures, the untold story of female African-American mathematicians working at a segregated NASA during the 1960’s.

VEX Robots in the cornerUnfortunately, disruption across UK train services caused by the “Beast from the East” winter storm  has meant Koala-T and Jamie and the Generics are unable to attend the UK National Championships later this week in Telford. Both teams are understandably disappointed as they would have loved to attend. However, Digital Xtra Fund would still like to congratulate both teams on a job well done at the Scotland event and best of luck in the future. You can follow @NCLANVex on Twitter for the latest updates as well as updates on future tournaments.

 

Digital Xtra Fund’s annual grant rounds, which support New College Lanarkshire’s VEX Robotics programme and many other inspirational projects, are made possible by the valued support of Scotland’s tech industry, supplying sponsorship, donations 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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28 Feb 2018

Incremental Group enters partnership with Digital Xtra Fund to help nurture Scotland’s young digital talent

Incremental Group funding and project delivery support will provide young people aged 16 and under with opportunities to learn computer and digital skills, widening the provision of extracurricular digital activities across Scotland.

Digital Xtra Fund is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) that forms a key strand of a nationwide drive to develop the digital talent of all young people across Scotland. The Fund provides grant awards to support organisations that help young people develop computer and digital making skills through high-quality extracurricular activities.

Apps for Good 2017Digital Xtra Fund was originally established in 2016 and funded through the Digital Scotland Business Excellence Partnership whose partners included Scottish Government, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Funding Council, Education Scotland, ScotlandIS, and industry representatives. In March 2017, Digital Xtra Fund was spun out as an independent charity to enable it to work more closely with industry and address the digital skills gap. In November, the Fund awarded a total of £50,000 to 11 exciting and engaging initiatives across Scotland. Formula 1, 3D printed drones, lighthouses, and coding for social good were just some of the activities to receive support.

The Fund is now working with organisations, including Incremental Group, who also understand the importance of teaching young people to understand and create with technology to develop the 2018 grant awards programme. Public resources in many parts of Scotland are being stretched, so a collaborative effort within the private sector is key to engaging more young people in digital technologies.

Neil Logan, CEO, Incremental Group said “Digital skills are crucial to powering the Scottish Economy but unfortunately not enough of our young people are getting those skills. Digital Xtra Fund is one way of helping get more children involved with, and excited by extracurricular, tech activity – from robotics to coding. Importantly, it targets the biggest STEM drop out group – those aged 12 to 16. We are looking forward to being paired with an interesting project that will inspire Scotland’s next generation of Technologists.”

Kraig Brown, Partnerships & Development Manager, Digital Xtra Fund said “Incremental Group’s contribution will greatly help with the delivery of the 2018 Grant Awards cycle. The funding from Incremental Group will ensure more young people across Scotland have the opportunity to take part in high-quality coding and digital making activities. We will work closely with the Incremental Group team as part of their new CSR strategy to help inspire the next generation of coders and digital makers.”

 

About Incremental Group

Incremental Group is a digital technology company that works with the government and industry to deliver the digital enterprise, step by step. It provides Consultancy, Applications, Intelligence, Cloud and Microsoft Dynamics services. These services are delivered by a growing team of over 60 digital specialists in Inverurie and in Glasgow. Customers include Total, Aggreko and The Scottish Government. www.incrementalgroup.co.uk

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20 Feb 2018

Young Engineers and Science Clubs Scotland: Little Lighthouse

In our fourth blog, we highlight how Digital Xtra Fund is supporting Scottish Council for Development & Industry’s ‘Little Lighthouse’ programme as part of their Young Engineers and Science Clubs Scotland (YESC) network. Of the 11 projects supported by Digital Xtra Fund in 2018, the Little Lighthouse programme will engage the youngest audience, introducing 6-8 year olds to digital skills.

Little Lighthouse (Gavinburn Primary School)Little Lighthouse is a creative interdisciplinary programme which encourages children to combine computing science with various other science and technology concepts such electricity, design, light and sound using lighthouses as context. During the 2016/17 pilot year, YESC received support as part of Digital Xtra Fund’s second funding round to assist with the programme’s roll-out in 40 schools across Perth & Kinross, Scottish Borders, Western Isles, and Highlands. Based on the success of this initial cohort, further support was secured from Education Scotland to extend the programme across all 120 Highland primary schools and funding from the current Digital Xtra Fund grant awards will see Little Lighthouse expanded again into Argyll & Bute and Moray. This expansion will include teacher CPD courses as well as free resource kits for 18 schools in order to deliver the programme. As part of Digital Xtra Fund’s support, YESC is targeting schools that do not currently offer extracurricular computing science related activities, building the confidence and knowledge of teachers in these schools to deliver digital activities.

The first of these CPD courses took place at Dunoon Primary earlier this year with teachers from across Argyll & Bute in attendance. Aileen Morrison from Strone Primary said, ‘The resources for science/tech are always a challenge so providing this kit is fantastic. CodeBugs are new to me – learning to use them is really helpful. The kids will love using this’. Gina Nitschke from Innellan Primary added, ‘I now have a new idea to encourage digital literacy in the P1/2 class!’.

Little Lighthouse 3 (Gavinburn Primary School)In total, 360 P2-P4 pupils in Argyll & Bute and Moray will take part in the Little Lighthouse programme learning digital concepts using Bee-Bots, CodeBugs, and Scratch. Pupils will complete eight exciting lighthouse themed modules, each building on concepts learned in the previous module. From constructing a working model lighthouse in ‘High Height’ to learning about communicating over long distances in ‘Light Delights’, by placing computing science and creativity in a real-world context alongside fun, hands-on activities, the Little Lighthouse programme helps to instil a positive attitude to digital technologies at a young age, increasing the likelihood of young people going on to choose computing science subjects at school.

Alongside support from Digital Xtra Fund, YESC is also working with BT Scotland as part of the Little Lighthouse programme to help engage young people with digital technologies. BT Scotland supports the CAS Barefoot resources which provide teachers with a brilliant range of ‘unplugged’ activities to develop computational thinking skills. Volunteers from BT Scotland are also invited to support schools participating in the programme by sharing their skills and career paths into digital roles with the children. This helps raise awareness of exciting opportunities within the digital sector in Scotland to both teachers and pupils and open their eyes to the diverse range of exciting career opportunities available within the sector.

Little Lighthouse 3Rebecca MacLennan, Programme Director at Young Engineers & Science Clubs Scotland, SCDI said, “Little Lighthouse is one of a range of innovative STEM projects available to schools across Scotland through SCDI’s YESC programme, supported by many partners including Digital Xtra Fund and BT Scotland. We are delighted to have support from Digital Xtra Fund to continue to grow the Little Lighthouse programme across Scotland by engaging another two local authorities. Our CPD courses have been very well received by teachers who are now enthused to use the lighthouse context to help pupils develop valuable skills including computational thinking and inspire the future workforce!”

Little Lighthouse 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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