Round VI (2021/22)

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

Following a challenging year marked by school lockdowns, learning bubbles, and remote learning, Digital Xtra was pleased to move forward with a sixth round of grant awards to help drive digital skills for young people. The charity also moved to support extracurricular activities during an academic year versus a calendar year as it had previously.

Grants were awarded to 22 tech initiatives across Scotland who in turn positively engaged 7,167 children and young people with tech across 30 local authorities, including 3,585 girls and young women. These initiatives demonstrated the ability to engage, inspire, and enable young people while highlighting the huge variety of careers these skills can open up for them. Please read the full Round VI (2021/22) Impact Report here.

Aberdeen Science Centre

Aberdeen Science Centre (ASC) is the UK’s most northerly Science Centre and has recently undergone a transformation introducing over 60 new interactive exhibits. ASC will now develop a digital-themed workshop to introduce young people, community groups, and families to the world of programming and cyber security. Visitors would be introduced to digital concepts through a combination of existing exhibits and micro:bit kits to complete fun and interactive scenario-based activities and challenges. ASC will also host important discussions regarding online safety, scam awareness, and cyber security.

Arbroath Academy

As part of a new lunchtime club, students at Arbroath Academy in Angus will explore ‘what is under the hood’ in various technologies, including automated systems for coding in ‘3’ dimensions. Students will eventually use the technology they have built and coded themselves using software development kits. Students will also have an opportunity to use VR headsets to initially produce simple shapes before creating new 3D worlds they can see and interact with to enhance the learning process.

Athelstaneford Primary School

Funding for Athelstaneford Primary School will enable the school to create a coding club for students, who will then subsequently record and share their lessons for other primary schools in East Lothian. The end goal is to further develop and grow the East Lothian Game Jam which was created in 2020 during the pandemic. The club and ensuing lessons will ensure the children develop coding and computational skills as well as their leadership and communication skills.

Edinburgh Science

As part of the Datasphere exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh during the 2022 Edinburgh Science Festival, Microcoders will provide young people with an awareness of how cybersecurity is a global problem that affects many areas of our lives. Microcoders will explore the value of data privacy, where participants will have 5 minutes to use the micro:bit programming interface to generate an encryption key and stop hackers from stealing important data.

Edzell Primary School

Edzell Primary School is a small, rural school in Angus who have just had WiFi activated and now wish to build on this opportunity to use mobile devices to help develop the children’s interest in digital technologies. The grant will be used to purchase micro:bits and a wide variety of micro:bit accessories for a new Micro:bit Coding Club. The club will run after school with groups of 10 pupils over a 7 week block and will also have learning aspects which can be practiced at home remotely.

Glenboig Primary School

Over the past two years, Glenboig Primary school has been on a digital journey including the introduction of remote coding clubs for Primary 1 -3 and Primary 4-7. They have tried a variety of resources to better understand what type of activities their students prefer and noted a significant uptake in their clubs when there was a Minecraft focus. Using one of the most popular video games in the world, the North Lanarkshire school will now build on this interest by creating a Minecraft: Education Edition After School Club as well as hosting hands-on activities using micro:bits and micro:bit accessories.

Heart of Midlothian Innovation Centre

Building on a strong year which saw Heart of Midlothian Innovation Centre’s digital education programmes successfully transition from in person to online, the Club will now develop a new programme for girls and boys in S1-S3 exploring the games industry in Scotland whilst developing vital digital skills to create and build their own video games with a specific focus on raising awareness about a cause that is important to them. Young people will explore different stages involved from idea to a prototype including character design, difficulty, and the logic behind the scenes that makes games work.

Kirkcudbright Academy

Kirkcudbright Academy in Dumfries & Galloway will set up a new initiative using the F1 in Schools platform. Students will work as a team on the design, analysis, manufacture, and testing of a model F1 Car. Students will take part in real life CAD/CAM activities as they design and analyse the car on the computer, test aerodynamics through CFD analysis, and manufacture component parts by downloading their designs to CAM devices such as 3D Printers and CNC Routers. The culmination will see teams race against each other followed by a presentation describing the process which will be judged by invited guests.

Kirkliston Primary School

Kirkliston Primary School in Edinburgh will establish a coding club for female students in Primary 4-7. These clubs will take place after school and will be a great opportunity for children to share their love of tech while learning to code using micro:bits and Spheros. Sessions will also highlight the practical applications of coding with the children being encouraged to understand and design solutions to real-world problems. They will also have an opportunity to learn about role models in tech and understand that the skills developed in the club will help them in potential future careers.

Knox Academy

Knox Academy in East Lothian will train digital leaders from S1-S6 to become Young STEM Leaders through a new coding club and ‘Elective’ subject choice. Students will have the opportunity to use Spheros, Marty the Robot, and micro:bits on their digital journey. Later in the year, students from Meadowpark (an ASN school adjacent to Knox Academy) will also have an opportunity to use and learn about the new equipment while the micro:bits will be used as part of the school’s P7 transition events with the local primary schools.

Scottish Council for Development & Industry

One of the key questions being discussed at COP26 in Glasgow this November is, can technology help reverse the climate crisis. SCDI’s Young Engineers & Science Clubs aim to give young people the technological skills needed to answer this question in their new Code versus Climate programme. 90 young people in Glasgow will have the opportunity to investigate energy usage in their school or home and then use the micro:bit to create a solution to reduce their consumption.

Scottish Schools Education Research Centre (SSERC)

Scottish Schools Education Research Centre (SSERC), in partnership with the REC Foundation and VEX Robotics, will organise and coordinate an extracurricular competition based on the VEX GO platform. Teams of students will collaborate to tackle a range of tasks with goals such as creating unique robot designs, writing efficient code in a block-based programming language, and having a creative approach to problem solving. Combined funding from Digital Xtra Fund and the REC Foundation will be used to purchase 30 VEX GO sets enabling up to 15 schools in Dumfries & Galloway, Perth & Kinross, or South Ayrshire to take part at no cost to them.

Shawlands Academy

Students at Shawlands Academy in Glasgow will have an opportunity to take part in FIRST LEGO League in 2021/22. FIRST LEGO League introduces STEM concepts and skills to children in S1 – S4 through fun, exciting hands-on challenges. Students will engage in research, design, coding, and engineering to build a series of different LEGO based robots that can follow instructions and navigate different missions about transportation and logistics. The missions are set by the League under this year’s theme of Cargo Connect.

Shawlands Primary School

Shawlands Primary School in Glasgow have been running a coding club for two years and will use the grant to purchase Spheros to take the club to the next level. The club is run by the school’s Digital Leader of Learning and Digital Ambassadors who are a group of pupils that have demonstrated an interest in learning about digital technologies. The Digital Ambassadors will help their fellow students learn to code the Spheros and use them in activities such as navigating a maze, painting, playing Battleship and exploring angles, speed, and distance.

Southmuir Primary School

There are not enough women in the tech sector and we need to engage girls from a young age to effectively reverse this. Southmuir Primary School in Angus will use the funding to purchase a variety of equipment such as Dash & Dot robots, VEX Go, and micro:bit accessories to help set up an all-girls coding club. This will be in addition to their current Code Club that was described as “thriving” before the pandemic. Students will also have an opportunity to become Young STEM Leaders by taking part and learn about cyber security from staff at St Andrew’s University.

St. Andrew’s Primary School

St. Andrew’s Primary School in North Lanarkshire will develop a lunchtime club for pupils ranging from early to second level of the Curriculum for Excellence, with a focus on the most vulnerable pupils. Run by their staff Digital Champion and Digital Leaders pupil group, the objective of the club is to provide lifelong, digital skills-based experiences. Students will learn about coding using Scratch and programmable drones, robotics, augmented reality, video-making, and animation. The ‘Dynamic Digital Developers’ will start at a beginner’s level for each lesson and develop their skills weekly through a variety of challenges.

T-Exchange, Moray Makerspace

T-Exchange, Moray Makerspace will host a series of remote and in-person Technology Day Events & Coding Experiences to give young people in Moray, the Highlands, and Orkney opportunities to code using visual programming languages such as Scratch or micro:bit hex coding as well as learning about examples of coding in the real world. Participants will also have an opportunity to use a range of other devices including micro:bits, Spheros, e-textiles, and :MOVE minis as well as learning about electronics and how to solder.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET)

This year’s funding will enable The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) to grow and further develop last year’s supported project – FIRST LEGO League Explore for 6-9-year-olds. Children will work together over a series of weeks to explore a real-world issue and develop creative solutions. They will build and programme a LEGO model using WeDo 2.0 software, present their solutions, and celebrate their achievements at a Festival. The IET will work closely with Primary Science Development Officers to expand the programme into Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, and Shetland Islands.

Vale of Leven Academy

Vale of Leven Academy in West Dunbartonshire will develop an extracurricular Creative Coding Club with a focus on inclusion, especially amongst the female students. Initially, the school will pull from S1 pupils to help them transition into High School and find friends with similar interests in a safe environment. The club will be run by teaching staff supported by volunteers from the Senior Phase in the school. Activities will include using Minecraft: Education Edition and Scratch, then moving onto micro:bits, followed by robotics using LEGO SPIKE Prime kits.

Warddykes Primary School

It is never too young to engage children in tech as Warddykes Primary School in Angus will show this year. All P2 children at the school will have the opportunity to develop their coding skills through unplugged and digital activities using equipment such as Bluebots, Dash and Dots, Code-a-pillars, micro:bits, and Spheros. In addition to learning computational skills, children will also build problem solving, communication, cooperation, and resilience skills to help them become little innovators of the future.

West College Scotland

Building on their experience of engaging with local schools to help establish coding clubs, West College Scotland will expand their engagement online by working with teachers from primary schools in East Renfrewshire and Glasgow to help them start up coding clubs in their schools. Teachers will also receive resource packs containing lesson plans tailored to their needs which will also be made available to other teachers for the future. Then, in June 2022, students from these clubs will take part in an online Game Jam event where they will have an opportunity to share and discuss their creations and achievements.

Westquarter Primary School

Funding will enable Westquarter Primary School in Falkirk to start an extracurricular STEM club with the ability to deliver coding activities. The club will consist of 10-15 members for a 6-8 week block who will then pass their skills to the next cohort of members on a rolling programme throughout the year. Participants can also work towards becoming Young STEM Leaders as they learn to use – and share their skills and knowledge – about micro:bits, micro:bit Smart Home kits, :MOVE mini Mk2’s, and LEGO WeDo. The initiative will be designed to inspire creativity and explore how digital tech, such as micro:bits, could be used in other curricular areas throughout the school.

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