Round IV (2018/19)

A summary of the brilliant initiatives supported by Digital Xtra Fund during the Fund’s fourth round of grant funding. In total, 22 extracurricular initiatives were awarded grants of up to £5,000 each.

Digital Xtra Fund recently completed its fourth round of grant awards, and second as an independent charity. Grants totalling £100,000 were awarded to 22 extracurricular initiatives across Scotland in a bid to create the next generation of digital experts. The projected engagement of these 22 initiatives is 9,920 children and young people, including 5,058 girls and young women, across 25 local authorities. All of these initiatives have demonstrated the ability to engage, inspire, and enable young people and help demonstrate the huge variety of careers these skills can open up for them.

Aberdeen Science Centre (ASC)

Aberdeen Science Centre (ASC) is the UK’s most northerly Science Centre whose audience is primarily families with children aged 5-12. Visitors will be introduced to digital concepts through fun, interactive activities and by designing and creating their own LEGO robotic devices to compete in exciting challenges. The workshops will be delivered from September until November 2019 with an estimated engagement of 4,080; 2040 being young people and 2040 key influencers. In addition, ASC will run a primary school week of extracurricular digital workshops, with potential visitor numbers of 494 local pupils plus teachers. ASC will target schools from areas of high rural isolation and high deprivation.

Alva Primary School and Bridge of Allan Primary School

Alva Primary School and Bridge of Allan Primary School will partner to give pupils opportunities to develop digital skills for their future. Alva Primary School will focus on engaging girls while Bridge of Allan will focus on pupils who are not currently engaged in STEM. The aim is to inspire pupils to aspire to careers in the technologies sector, with a focus on programming, by developing coding skills in a way that is supportive, inspirational and creative. Utilising their own interests and inspiration for the work they create, children aged 9-11 will learn the basics of coding using a variety of platforms before working on their own projects. Pupils will also be encouraged to take part in the Duke of York Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award (iDEA).

Anderston Primary School

“Tech Heroes” is a programme of activities focused on the application of technology and computational thinking across subjects at Anderston Primary School in Glasgow. The creation of a regular after-school club will help develop understanding of STEAM through active learning, creativity and application of knowledge. Support from Digital Xtra Fund will purchase the necessary equipment and networks to build and maintain an ongoing, sustainable programme of activities. Spheros were chosen as the main engagement tool based on their adaptability, scalability, excitement factor, and crucially, strong existing support for STEAM and 4Cs educational activities. In complement, Osmo kits, micro:bits and Snap Circuits will extend the learning. In addition, an exciting range of partners, expert visitors, and trips are already in place and will be developed further throughout 2019.

Apps for Good

Apps for Good (AfG) is a tech education charity with a mission to prepare young people for the real-world and help grow the problem-solvers and digital makers of tomorrow. AfG enable and empower young people to create technology solutions to tackle real-world community problems and bring about positive change in their own lives through improving their digital, entrepreneurial and business skills, growing their confidence and opening new education and career pathways. In 2019, Digital Xtra Fund will support three key areas of Apps for Good in Scotland:

  • Give at least 100 new young people the opportunity to learn how to create, develop and market a digital solution to a real-world proble
  • Facilitate high quality interactions between industry professionals and participating pupils
  • Support AfG’s annual Scottish celebration where pupils will showcase their digital creations to industry professionals and take part in skills workshops

Banchory Primary School

Banchory Primary School will be delivering Robot Dance Off, a 7-week challenge to code a Dash robot to dance in a choreographed way. The challenge involves choosing copyright free music and programming DASH robots and a compatible programming app (e.g. Tynker, Wonder Workshop’s own apps) to blink, move and say things in time with the music. Pupils will then produce a dance music video with DASH as the star performer, programmed to move and flash to the beat of the music. It will be delivered as an after-school club with three unique groups of 12 pupils during 2019. The final Robot Dance Off videos will then be voted on by the school community during a Dance Off Awards event where each video will be shown. The event will also be live streamed and online voting will be available for the wider community via Banchory PS’s social media channels to increase engagement.

Carlibar Primary School

Carlibar Primary School believes it is important that all learners have the opportunity to develop their digital skills both within and outwith the classroom environment. They also believe it is important for parents and carers to understand the potential career pathways their children could have in the digital industry. With support from Digital Xtra Fund, the East Renfrewshire primary school will develop a Digital Learning Hub for learners to develop a range of creative digital skills including coding. There will also be opportunity to extend the hub to develop family learning by inviting the adults of the learners to jointly participate in the Hub’s events, so they can work together to develop their digital skills and deepen their understanding too. Lessons will be provided using micro:bits, Kodu, Scratch, Beebots, Robot Mouse, Code-a-Pillar, Dash & Dot Robots, and Spheros to help develop core digital skills. Creative digital sessions for girls only will also be available.

Crookston Castle Primary School

Crookston Castle Primary School in Glasgow will develop a new after-school ‘Digi-Club’ to teach children about computing (particularly coding) using resources such as micro:bits, Spheros and iPads. Crookston Castle is currently aiming to become a school more focused on digital learning and already has many elements of Computing Science incorporated throughout the curriculum, however they do not currently offer a an after-school coding or robotics club. Support from Digital Xtra Fund will provide the resources to develop and run such a club and help the school engage even more young people with digital learning. Children who are not currently engaged in digital technologies and/or come from groups underrepresented in the technology sector will specifically be invited to take part with a focus to engage girls who view computing as a male-based task

dressCode

dressCode Hackathons are designed to help girls understand the possibilities of coding as a career path. The philosophy of dressCode is showing girls how to do, not what to do, and empowering them to design the game or website that they want. The Hackathon will give local S1/2 girls the opportunity to participate in a tech inspired competition hosted in Midlothian. The event will also host local tech companies to provide examples of careers in digital tech. Pupils will be presented with a web design challenge to create an online fictitious awards ceremony invite and will conclude by presenting their ideas to the other participants and judges where an overall winner is chosen. Winners from each school will also have their invitation sent to the Head Teacher of their school to inform them of their achievement and for potential use for a real school event. The challenge will be designed to be accessible to all skill levels and schools who attend the Hackathon will be given access to dressCode’s resources for future use.

Edinburgh Science Learning

App Inventor is an interactive activity which teaches secondary school pupils to build fully functional apps promoting creativity, computational thinking and basic programming skills using blocks-based coding. It will be included as part of Edinburgh Science’s 2019 Careers Hive event which is held at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. This free-to-attend event brings industry and education together through interactive experiences where pupils learn about careers in STEM and meet professionals working within these fields. App Inventor participants will: Identify that both creativity and an understanding of code is important in app development; learn about different roles in app development such as design, programming and cybersecurity; and consider the wide range of industries that require apps. More than 2,000 young people will have the opportunity to take part in App inventor.

Firpark Secondary School

Firpark Secondary School will be developing a SheBot After School Club for S1-S4 girls using the new VEX Robotics EDR V5 platform and VEX Coding Studio. In addition to developing coding and design skills, the club will also focus on forming new friendships and developing confidence, creativity, communication and collaboration skills in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Teams will work together to understand and experience new technology and explore electronics and engineering concepts. Firpark is an additional support needs establishment in North Lanarkshire whose pupils have varying degrees of disability or infirmities. Giving pupils access to equipment which has been unavailable to them previously, will help them communicate their ideas in ways that traditional methodologies have not been able to and will also allow them to better showcase their achievements. Currently at Firpark Secondary, pupils are introduced to coding using the Scratch and almost all pupils have no prior knowledge of programming.

Glasgow Life

Wear-a:bits will introduce coding through wearable technology to groups within Glasgow Life’s network of Youth Clubs based in areas of high deprivation. The participants will gain coding, physical making, and design skills while creating their own “smart garment”. The project will use micro:bits as controllers for the garments, making use of its features including accelerometer, temperature sensor, radio and Bluetooth messaging and light sensor. The micro:bits will be sewn to peripheral devices such as LEDs and buzzers with conductive thread. The programme will also familiarise participants with wearable tech companies involved in fashion, assistive technologies and personal protection devices. Participants will demonstrate these at an event at their youth group at the end of the project and their demos would be shared on social media. Additionally, participants will progress to becoming peer mentors at their own youth clubs, leading simple introductory activities on wearable technology.

Knightsridge Primary School

Knightsridge Primary School in West Lothian will develop a series of new after-school clubs to teach the basics of coding and computational thinking to children of primary school age using the curriculum and robots developed by Root Robotics. The clubs will allow pupils to experience coding by learning about the individual functions of the Root Robot and using the coding software to complete set tasks and projects. A different function will be explored each week and at the end of each block of afterschool clubs, a final project will consolidate all the learning and allow learners to showcase their new coding capabilities. The Root Robot coding software is designed in 3 stages: P1-P3 pupils will learn Level 1 and pupils from P4-P7 will learn Levels 2 and 3. Pupils who become proficient in coding with all 3 stages will be able to then support their fellow students. A facility to share pupils’ projects and collaborate with other establishments using Root Robots is also being explored.

McLaren High School

In 2018, McLaren High School hosted a STEM Festival which included a programming and robotics competition for three of their associated primaries. Based on the success of this initiative, the Stirling school is now planning to coordinate and assist in the creation of extracurricular robotics clubs in its 11 associated primary schools. These clubs will focus on building and programming using LEGO Mindstorms robots, which are more accessible than text-based coding or traditional electronics. Topics covered will include Fixed Loops, If Statements, and Functions alongside engineering concepts and working with sensors, motors, and gearing. This project will also involve training S1-S6 pupils in McLaren High School to become “STEM Ambassadors / Trainers”. Previous initiatives at the school have found that using pupils in this manner is more effective than staff alone and provides greater inspiration for the Primary pupils as they can more clearly see a pathway to using their skills as they progress through the education system

Moorfoot Primary School in partnership with Inverclyde Council

Moorfoot Primary, in partnership with Inverclyde Council, will be creating a Mobile Coding Initiative with one simple message: Anyone can code! Their aim is to be able to take coding resources to primary schools around Inverclyde and give young people the opportunity to use familiar technology (tablets) as a bridge to using new technology (micro:bits) to develop their understanding of coding and design. This approach is designed to help dispel negative stereotypes as well as highlight the true potential of young peoples’ own devices. Eight schools across the authority have agreed to participate by hosting the extracurricular coding activities with the resources also being available for outreach/pop-up sessions with Girl Guides, libraries, etc. This will lower barriers to entry in relation to practical coding as well as highlight the true potential of young peoples’ own devices. This will eventually allow them to further pursue coding independently and without the need for input from schools or initiatives.

New College Lanarkshire

Building on their previous grant award, New College Lanarkshire will continue to grow the VEX Robotics EDR extracurricular programme in Lanarkshire to inspire young people aged 11-16 in coding and robotics. VEX Robotics EDR is a competitive extracurricular programme where teams design, build, and code robots to compete in an exciting global engineering challenge. The modular robot kits and variable challenges promote skills such as creativity, problem-solving, and computational thinking while teaching students about the design process. Participants are placed into small teams where each is given an essential role in the design and development process. Teams compete against each other and participate in local, regional, and national competitions. Activities are delivered at the College’s Motherwell Campus. Participants are also supported to establish VEX Robotics clubs within their schools. NCLan will also host the Scottish Finals where successful teams will be given the opportunity to compete at the UK National Finals in Birmingham.

Paisley YMCA

As a digital youth work organisation, Paisley YMCA have found that young people least likely to participate in STEM and computer science activities are also often those facing multiple forms of chronic and acute disadvantage. Without access to support, they become trapped in a cycle of disadvantage and vulnerability. This also makes them amongst the hardest to reach. Paisley YMCA currently deliver a variety of initiatives to increase chances of employment and further education and will soon be adding the Renfrewshire Micro:bit Club to this portfolio. The Club will harness the power of the micro:bit as a tool for easily introducing and teaching young people a variety of computing concepts and inspire them to learn advanced digital technologies skills. The initiative will be offered to young people aged 8-16 on Monday and Wednesday evenings over ten months and support 130 participants.

Port Ellen Primary School

Port Ellen Primary School on Islay will develop an afterschool robotics club where overcoming challenges and developing children’s’ resilience is a key aim. Learning programming and building robots requires key skills like tinkering, debugging and perseverance. Coding can be tricky, but when successful it is very rewarding; by coding robots in real life it provides a real-world link to more abstract coding. Children will learn through programmes such as Scratch and Python, and use them to build and code robots using Marty, micro:bits, Spheros and Lego Boost. They will follow instructions, generate algorithms, and use their skills creatively, developing progressively more complex ways of working with the robots – from simple exploring and programming of Spheros using apps, to building a responsive robot in Marty, to more creative programming of inventor projects in micro:bits. After a pilot phase at Port Ellen, resources and materials will be shared with other primary schools on Islay and Jura including offering teachers from the other schools further training as part of digital skills CPD twilights. This would enable them to run clubs independently using the resources on loan, ensuring sustainability of the project and widening access across the two islands.

Scottish Council for Development & Industry

Little Lighthouse is a first level interdisciplinary project for P2-P4 pupils which uses the context of lighthouses to introduce little engineers to various STEM concepts including electricity, light, sounds and coding. It is run by Scottish Council for Development & Industry as part of their Young Engineer’s and Science Clubs Scotland (YESC) programme. Over 200 schools across Scotland are now using the project, delivered by teachers who are upskilled by YESC and provided with a resource pack that contains all the materials they will need. Little Lighthouse was supported by Digital Xtra Fund in 2017/18 to increase engagement across 18 schools in Argyll & Bute and Moray. There’s now demand from more schools and this year’s grant will enable YESC to engage more schools in Aberdeenshire and Angus. CAS Barefoot resources are also included within the teacher training to help equip teachers with unplugged activities and develop pupils’ computational skills at regardless of schools’ connectivity. Funding will also enable YESC to update the digital activities within the project to activities based on the micro:bit.

Taigh Chearsabhagh Trust

Taigh Chearsabhagh Trust is based on the island of North Uist and works closely with the primary and secondary schools from North and South Uist. Through this work they have identified a need for digital skills workshops and extracurricular classes to cover:

  • Introduction to coding
  • Coding for children (primary)
  • Coding for young people (secondary to age 16)
  • Digital Arts skills (basic interface design, web design, design for apps)

There is currently no extracurricular provision on the island to learn these skills at this level. Being geographically remote also makes it difficult for young people to access learning and skills opportunities. Taigh Chearsabhagh Trust will engage with five primary schools and one secondary school as part of this project. An Aspiring Communities grant has enabled Taigh Chearsabhagh Trust to employ a full-time Education & Outreach Officer while support from Digital Xtra Fund will enable the Trust to purchase the equipment needed and develop appropriate course material, ensuring young people in even the most remote parts of Scotland have an opportunity to become the next generation of developers and digital technologists.

University of the Highlands and Islands

University of the Highlands and Islands aims to inspire and engage young people using coding and encourage an interest in digital careers. The Micro:bit Community Coding project will support after-school and library coding clubs using activities based on the micro:bit with promotion of these clubs and activities though science festivals and community engagement. While awareness of the micro:bit is extremely high in Scotland, many educators are still not fully aware of the potential of this small device and may not be using it to its full potential. The Micro:bit Community Coding project, led by the STEM team at UHI, will provide training and support to enable full utilisation of the micro:bit as part of digital learning and to encourage new coding clubs. The initiative will include: i) a micro:bit touring programme which includes coding sessions and training aimed at the S1/S2 level; ii) support for organisations who wish to start a coding club or add micro:bit elements to their existing clubs; iii) development of a support network and sharing of ideas including mentor training; iv) and promotion of micro:bit based activities at local science festivals and community events.

West College Scotland

West College Scotland will build on their previous experience of successfully establishing coding clubs in six Renfrewshire secondary schools and bring an adapted model to Inverclyde. Using learning from the previous projects, which were supported by Digital Xtra Fund, WCS will work with three secondary schools in Inverclyde to engage pupils from deprived areas and inspire them to understand and create with technology. The project will include three main elements:

  • Ongoing support for three school-run clubs, including a team of West College Scotland student STEM ambassadors who will share their knowledge and enthusiasm for coding with pupils while gaining valuable experience
  • A Game Jam at the College’s Greenock campus, where all participating pupils will have the opportunity to share their achievements
  • CPD sessions for teachers, enabling them to engage pupils using micro:bits, virtual reality, and digital making. Teachers will receive packs containing resources and lessons plans developed during previous projects, enabling them to launch coding clubs in their own schools

Western Isles Libraries

The Stornoway Library MakerSpace will be developed as a STEAM centre for the area, delivering a series of digital learning activities. Led by Western Isles Libraries with support from University of the Highlands and Islands, Stornoway Library MakerSpace will act as the main centre for the activities, however, pop-up mini STEAM festivals will also be delivered at other library locations including Harris, the Uists and Barra to ensure that young people across Na h-Eileanan Siar (Western Isles) will have access. The project will consist of a staged programme of digital activities and events, providing learning progression from early years and up. The sessions will offer activities on coding with code-a-pillars and Ozobots for Nursery and P1-aged children, and progressing to include sessions on micro:bits, Arduinos, Minecraft, LEGO Mindstorms, stop-motion animation, Tinkercad design and 3D scanning and printing. Sessions will be offered free of charge to ensure all have access. The prepared worksheets and activities, along with staff training, would support the project to continue long-term beyond the initial year.

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