Science Minister launches STEM strategy report at New College Lanarkshire

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The Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science has launched Scotland’s first annual STEM Strategy report at New College Lanarkshire.

Richard Lochhead MSP visited the College’s Coatbridge Campus to meet with learners engaged in STEM subjects – and even got involved in some himself.

The visit coincided with the first annual report of the Scottish Government’s STEM strategy for education and training, which outlines four key challenges for STEM education and training in Scotland, including encouragement, number of practitioners, education and training systems and gender equality.

Mr Lochhead was welcomed by Principal Martin McGuire, who chairs the STEM Hub Steering Group for Scotland along with Keith Fulton, Chair of the Lanarkshire Regional Board, Clare Flynn, Head of Faculty for Care and Science and Barry Skea, Head of Faculty for Engineering and Automotive. They joined members of the College Senior Management Team, as well as College partners Alison Nimmo from Developing the Young Workforce and Mark Cairns, Head Teacher of Cumbernauld Academy.

The Minister held discussions with the group about the importance of STEM for the workforce and how it is being implemented in education and training.

He was then given a tour of the College’s state-of-the-art dental facilities which opened in February 2016. He was shown various dental procedures and equipment by Dental Nursing students and Curriculum and Quality Leader for Dental, Kate Wilson, before discussing the opportunities available for the students – including progression to study at degree level within the College.

Science students were then on-hand to show the Minister and some little scientists from Coatbridge Campus Nursery a number of science experiments, including investigating light, diffusion, forces and chromatography. The event then went off with a bang after a spontaneous combustion demo by Curriculum and Quality Leader for Science, Derek Steven.

Finally the Minister had the opportunity to speak to a current Engineering Foundation Apprentice Melissa Rodger, currently in S5 at Braidhurst High School in Motherwell, who showed him her award-winning robot made during a VEX Robotics Club, run by members of the Mechanical Engineering: CAD team at the College. Melissa spoke about how it felt studying engineering as a young female, how she had been inspired by the robotics club and the College and her hopes of continuing Mechanical Engineering through university.

Martin McGuire, Principal and CEO of New College Lanarkshire, said: “It was a great privilege to show the Minister the various STEM activities that take place across New College Lanarkshire and the fantastic facilities on offer to ensure our students and community are accessing the best opportunities.

“From our learners in the nursery to our school partnerships through Foundation Apprentices and Developing the Young Workforce, we continually promote and review our STEM provision to ensure that young people are aware of the endless opportunities a career in STEM can offer.

“We have a great legacy in STEM in Scotland and it is a great honour that we can continue to be part of that, developing the workforce of the future.”

Richard Lochhead, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, said:

“The activities and facilities I saw at New College Lanarkshire are just a few examples of the great work being done across the country to engage people of all ages and backgrounds in STEM.

“The first annual STEM Strategy Report highlighted the groundwork already completed in our five-year STEM Education and Training Strategy. In year two, we will carry on this momentum in conjunction with all education and training settings, science centres and festivals, to provide a pipeline of STEM talent, maintain Scotland’s position as a STEM leader on the world stage in years to come, and develop everyone’s understanding of how STEM permeates our lives.”

To view the report, visit: https://www.gov.scot/publications/stem-strategy-education-training-scotland-first-annual-report/

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