General HIE news

Public event for Dingwall Norwegian style learning centre

School pupils and residents in Ross and Cromarty are being encouraged to attend a public engagement session to find out more about the planned Dingwall Newton Room.

The event will be held on Wednesday 9 October, 4-6pm, at Dingwall Academy and is organised by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Highland Council and High Life Highland.

Newton Rooms are Norwegian style learning centres aimed at encouraging more young people in the area into studies and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Two centres have already opened in the Highlands – in Thurso and Fort William.

The third learning centre in the Highlands is planned to open at Dingwall Town Hall in January. Part of the Dingwall Common Good and Highland Council-owned facility, which is managed by High Life Highland, is being renovated and once completed, will be made accessible to young people, school groups and members of the public.

The public engagement session will include presentations to introduce the Science Skills Academy (SSA) and the Newton Room project and there will be interactive STEM activities to take part in.

A network of the centres in Norway works 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 Highlands by the SSA which a partnership project led by 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.

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 University of the Highlands and Islands and Aberdeen Science Centre, to reach all parts of the region.

Emma Robertson, Science Skills Academy project manager, said: “We would like to invite members of the public to this information session. This new facility for people in Ross-shire, from Ullapool and Gairloch to Dornoch and Golspie and surrounding areas, 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 have been working with FIRST Scandinavia over the last two years and have been learning from their considerable experience in inspiring young people in rural communities about STEM subjects.”

Steve Walsh, chief executive of High Life Highland, said: “I am really 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 works closely with HIE and I am delighted to see our partnership develop further to bring this new chapter in STEM education to the area and look forward to hearing about the differences this will make to young people across the region.”

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