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.
Continuing 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.
By 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.”
The 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