Lochaber to get first Newton Room in Scotland

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Work is under way to create one of Scotland’s first Norwegian-style learning centres in Fort William.

A new science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) centre is in the pipeline for Lochaber in the next two or three years but, in the meantime, an interim Newton Room is being created at Caol Youth Centre.

Designed to encourage more young people into careers in STEM subjects, the new facility is now being fitted out with a teaching room, auditorium and a laboratory.

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

The similar network of rooms is being created in the Highlands by the Science Skills Academy, a partnership project led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), with £3million from the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal. Other organisations behind the initiative include Skills Development Scotland, the University of the Highlands and Islands, Highland Council and NHS Highland.

Organisations behind the project are developing Newton modules to match STEM sectors in the Highlands and Islands. These will complement the school curriculum and allow families and communities to use the Newton Rooms to enhance and grow STEM activities within the Lochaber area.

Lochaber councillor Allan Henderson, chairman of Highland Council’s environment, development and infrastructure committee said: ‘The Lochaber Newton Room is a prime example of how the City-Region Deal is benefitting the wider Highlands at a local level. Young people studying STEM subjects in Lochaber will find their learning experiences and opportunities improved greatly when the Newton Room opens.’

The first two Newton Rooms in Scotland, in Thurso and Fort William, will officially open in the spring.

Andrew Johnston, HIE’s director for the Science Skills Academy, said: ‘It’s great to see work start on Lochaber’s Newton Room. The centre will aim to inspire young people across the whole of Lochaber who are interested in STEM subjects.

‘We are working with partners in the field to provide a coherent STEM learning experience throughout a young person’s education. This in turn will provide opportunities for young people to pursue careers in some of the emerging and future technological developments.

‘We very much look forward to opening the centre.’