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Thurso youngsters fly high with latest STEM activity

Published: 01/05/2023

Keen young flyers from Thurso have been discovering the science of flight in the latest education programme led by the Science Skills Academy (SSA).

SSA, the pioneering science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) organisation, is delivering flight simulator sessions across Caithness and Sutherland as part of a new Newton module called ‘Up in the Air with Numbers’.  

Pupils from Thurso High School learned how to write their own flight plan and carry out an observation mission while learning how to fly a Cessna 172 aircraft, at the Thurso Newton Room.

Golspie High School was the first school to try it out last October when 30 pupils visited over two days.

The programme is linked to the Newton Flight Academy at the Glasgow Science Centre and the module is run in partnership with the Dounreay STEM Ambassador programme. The module is being offered to school pupils who visit the Thurso Newton Room and will be rolled-out to all Caithness schools as well as Golspie High School in the next academic year.

SSA is leading the way with young people in Highland by helping raise their awareness of the sector and building relevant STEM skills. 

Aileen Simmonite, STEM engagement officer in Thurso, said: “The SSA’s new flight simulator module is a fantastic experience for school pupils in the Highlands. Through practical activities that include a realistic 180-degree view of the landscape generated from real map data, full feedback from the controls and learning about the science of flight, they’ll also enjoy a thrilling experience.

“The module enables them to tackle real-world science, technology, engineering and maths challenges through the flight simulator. This activity plays a key role in inspiring the future engineers and scientists. By introducing young people to this field and its wide range of career opportunities and pathways, we are highlighting the leading role that the Highlands and Islands have in STEM sectors that are important at local, national and global levels.”   

The SSA is a partnership project led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) with £3m of Scottish Government funding from the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal. The project has established the Highland Newton Room Network, consisting of five STEM education facilities across Highland.

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