Education and universities

Dingwall confirmed for next Newton Room

Young people in Ross-shire are to benefit from a new Norwegian style learning centre as Dingwall is announced, today (Wednesday 1 May), as the location for the third Newton Room in the UK.

The centres are aimed at encouraging more young people in the area into studies and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The first two Newton Rooms were officially opened in Thurso and Fort William earlier this year.

A network of the centres in Norway work with schools and local employers to provide inspirational STEM education in the most rural parts of the country.

A similar network of Newton Rooms is being created in the Highland region by the Science Skills Academy (SSA), which is a partnership project led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and supported with £3m from the Scottish Government. The funding is part of the £315 million Inverness and Highlands City Region Deal, which is funded by the Scottish and UK Governments and regional partners. 

Although initially focusing on the Highland region, the SSA aims to spread to all areas of the Highlands and Islands.

Other organisations behind the initiative include Skills Development Scotland, the University of the Highlands and Islands, The Highland Council and NHS Highland.

HIE has appointed international specialist firm FIRST Scandinavia, the company that developed and owns the Newton concept, to support the establishment of the Newton room at Dingwall Town Hall.

Part of the council-owned building, which is managed by High Life Highland, will be renovated and turned into a Newton Room and made accessible to school groups in Ross-Shire.

FIRST Scandinavia is a not-for-profit organisation whose purpose is to encourage children and young people’s interest in science, engineering and mathematics.

Organisations behind the project are developing Newton modules that will complement the school curriculum and STEM sectors in the region. The SSA will also collaborate with a wide range of other STEM activity providers, such as the Aberdeen Science Centre, to reach all parts of the region.

Andrew Johnston, HIE’s director for the Science Skills Academy. Said: “This new facility for Ross-shire will address the shortage of skills relating to science, technology, engineering and maths to help us meet current and future needs of the STEM labour market.

“We are delighted to confirm the third Newton Room in the Highlands and we are exploring options for other potential sites in the region for the benefit of all young people. We have been working with FIRST Scandinavia over the last few months and have been learning from their considerable experience in inspiring young people in rural communities about STEM subjects.”

Infrastructure Secretary Michael Matheson said: “This project, which is being supported by Scottish Government funding through the Inverness and Highland City Region Deal, will benefit young people living in rural communities, by opening up more opportunities to access STEM education, benefiting them now, as well as inspiring them to consider future career opportunities in the STEM industries.

“This investment is just part of the £135 million we are investing in the Inverness and Highland area through the City Region Deal, bringing benefits to local people and communities in the area.”

The Highland Council’s Dingwall and Seaforth Councillors, said “We are excited by the possibilities which the Newton Room will provide for pupils from Dingwall and across Ross and Cromarty. We look forward to seeing their skills being enhanced by visits to this fabulous facility. It is fitting that this should be hosted in Dingwall Town Hall as part of the building was gifted by Andrew Carnegie. He would surely have approved of it becoming a centre of excellence once more. This initiative will be great for the town and surrounding area. We wish the Newton Room every success.”

Ian Murray Chief Executive of High Life Highland, said: “I am pleased that young people in Dingwall and across Ross-shire will be able to benefit from this innovative learning experience at Dingwall Town Hall. High Life Highland is delighted to be working in partnership with HIE to bring this new chapter in STEM education to the area and I look forward to hearing about the differences this will make to young people across Ross-shire.”

SSA hopes to have the Dingwall Newton Room in place by the end of the year.

Ends.

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