TechFest launches new programme to develop Aberdeen’s innovators of the future

STEM charity TechFest is launching a new programme aimed at helping Scottish secondary school pupils in Aberdeen to discover their innovative side.

In June 2023 the Scottish Government published its national innovation strategy for the next 10 years.

It set out its vision for Scotland to be one of the most innovative small nations in the world.

The new initiative, STEM into Innovation: Pioneers of Progress, was developed in response to this ambitious target and schools across Scotland are being encouraged to sign up.

School pupils solving maths calculations
TechFest hopes to encourage young people to pursue careers in STEM fields

The initiative will run for the first time in February 2024 and will give secondary school pupils a chance to learn the history, skills and process behind designing a new product.

Sarah Chew, managing director of TechFest, said: “Achieving the Scottish Government’s goal of making Scotland one of the most innovative small nations in the world has to include creating a culture of innovation in our schools.

“Innovation is key to the future. It holds the answers to current and future problems.

“To make Scotland more innovative we need to develop the problem solvers of the future, the people who will come up with alternative solutions.

“There is no doubt that the science, technology, engineering and maths will play a key role in transforming Scotland’s innovation landscape.

“It is vital that we engage young minds in these subjects and foster a passion for innovation.

“Our latest initiative will help young people to gain an understanding and appreciation of the design and manufacturing process necessary to achieve innovation,” she added.

STEM into Innovation: Pioneers of Progress is being run as a virtual programme to ensure it is available to schools throughout Scotland.

Sarah added: “It was Steve Jobs who said, ‘the people who are crazy enough to change the world are the ones who do’.

“Through STEM into Innovation, we want to give young people the knowledge and skills they need to be the inventors of the future.

“We hope they will be inspired to believe they can make a difference.”

The initiative has involved several key people.

These include Jenny Brown, former lead history curator at Aberdeen City Council, and Edward Pollock, TechX acceleration manager at the Net Zero Centre.

Also involved are Sabaht Bashir and Blair Wilson, both industry and school engagement leaders for the National Robotarium.

They have each filmed content for the programme.

Sarah said: “Content for STEM into Innovation: Pioneers of Progress has been captured at NESCOL filming studios.

“We’re grateful to NESCOL for their support as we seek to engage tomorrow’s pioneers with STEM.

“The pupils will be set a series of tasks and exercises to complete once they have seen the videos.

“This will help them to take the information the experts have given them and put it into action. This approach will really help them to build their knowledge.”

Yvonne Whitker, NCR foundation director said: “NCR Foundation is proud to partner with TechFest to promote STEM activities to young people in Scotland.

“Research shows increased participation in STEM activities improves reading ability, writing fluency and problem solving skills.

“We hope participation in these types of programs will ignite young peoples’ interest in pursuing technology career paths in future.”

STEM into Innovation will grow with the young people as they progress through secondary school.

It will be delivered through tutorials, masterclasses, networking and taster sessions. Initially it will introduce the concepts of design from past, present and future to the young people.

The aim is to then build on this knowledge and provide additional skills and information necessary for design.

Subsequent sessions will see the pupils implement the skills and knowledge they have gained as they develop, design and deliver a product.

Sarah continued: “By the end of the programme the students will have completed their own design projects using science, technology, engineering and maths.

“We hope that this approach will help them to believe that they can be the innovators of the future.

“Scotland has a long and proud history of innovation.

“Penicillin, the fridge, the phone, MRI scanners and daily disposable contact lenses are just a few examples of innovations that have Scottish roots.

“We’re excited to play a part in developing the innovators of the future. Who know what the next big innovation to come out of Scotland will be!”

TechFest?is an Aberdeen-based charity which aims to engage young people in the four main STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

Its goal is to encourage them to go on to follow a career which utilises these skills by demonstrating that they are both fun and relevant in day-to-day life.