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Science Skills Academy

Encouraging more young people to study Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) based subjects.

What is the Science Skills Academy?

Thousands of new opportunities are anticipated in the Highlands and Islands over the next few years in sectors such as energy, life sciences and digital technologies.

To ensure our young people are in the best possible position to benefit from these opportunities, we need to inspire more of them to study Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

That’s what the Science Skills Academy is all about. With a network of inspirational STEM rooms, we're working with schools, employers and families to provide exciting and stimulating activities that engage young people and make them aware of the new opportunities coming their way.

The first Norwegian style newton room in the UK was officially opened in Thurso in March 2019 with the second opening in Fort William in April. Young people in Ross-shire are now also set to benefit from a new learning centre as Dingwall was recently announced as the location of a future third newton room.

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Keep up to date with all that’s happening with the Science Skills Academy on social.

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.
Emma Robertson, project manager, Science Skills Academy

Meet the team

The Science Skills Academy has a core team based at the Highlands and Islands Enterprise office at An Lochran, Inverness. Each Newton Room has a dedicated member of staff who delivers activities to local school children.

Dr Emma Robertson

Science Skills Academy Project Manager

When I was in primary 7 at Muirtown Primary School in Inverness, I got the opportunity to go on a week-long field trip to an outdoor education centre, where I learnt all about environmental science. Those few days got me hooked on biology, and from 11 years old all I wanted to do was become a scientist. And I did! I have a degree in Biomedical Sciences and a PhD in Molecular Biology. I want to be able to give the opportunity that I had to as many children in the Highlands and Islands as possible, and help to inspire another generation of scientists.

April Conroy

STEM Engagement Manager

Technology and maths are my thing. I've always liked maths, computers and carrying out practical tasks. When I left school I studied computer science with management science. This led me to a career in IT consulting and more recently, I set up Scotland’s first Digital Demonstration Centre in Inverness called #hellodigital. I brought big names like Google, Microsoft and IBM up to business events across the Highlands. As part of the Science Skills Academy team, I am excited to help bring state-of-the art equipment and hands-on STEM activities to the region. As a true tech enthusiast, I love to show people how we can tinker, discover and explore with technology, engineering and maths.

Fionnadh Carroll

STEM Engagement Officer, Dingwall

When I was at Golspie High School I enjoyed science but I never imagined that my career would include helping make a vaccines for Malaria at Oxford University. When I left Golspie I was very unsure about what I wanted to do but I knew I loved biology, chemistry and modern studies. I chose to study 'Biotechnology' at Agricultural College and then a degree in Applied Plant and Animal Science at Glasgow University. I got my first job down south working for a big pharmaceutical company making a live attenuated animal vaccine. I progressed into academia, latterly working at Oxford University researching gene delivery. I have lived and worked abroad but am pleased to be back home in the Highlands now. Since coming back I see the growth in industries here and its exciting; space, renewables and healthcare to name a few. I want to share my experiences, if I can be a scientist, anyone can!  

Ashlie Malcolm

STEM Engagement Officer, Fort William

I grew up on a farm in Duror and I was always amazed by the environment and the animals that surrounded me. I loved biology as a subject throughout school and wanted to explore it further so I decided to study Biological Sciences at university and then specialised in Forensic Biology which I gained my degree in. I worked as a scientist in pathology for several years before deciding to return home to live locally. I 'm so excited that I get to use my experiences to show children that there's a huge array of STEM based opportunities that they can discover and explore in their own communities. I love being able to show that science is an exciting and accessible career option for anyone who wishes to pursue it in local and rural areas.

Aileen Simmonite

STEM Engagement Officer, Thurso

I studied Sport and Exercise Science at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh. I graduated in 2008 with a BSc Honours degree. This eventually let me to move back home to Caithness where I took up the position of Active Schools Coordinator for the Wick area. Through my work as an active schools coordinator, as well as through my own personal interests, I've gained a lot of experience in delivering both sporting and scientific activities as courses to pupils of all ages.

Watching children learning new skills and gaining knowledge in a fun and interactive environment is very rewarding. I 'm looking forward to introducing children to a fun, new way of learning where they can find a love of STEM subjects and possibly go on to have a career in one of these areas.

Dawn Gillies

STEM Engagement Officer, Inverness

I was always interested in maths and science at school. Thurso college came to my primary school in the ‘bat-mobile’ and let us build bat detectors – it sparked my love of engineering and problem solving! I went on to study Electronics and Music at university because I’ve always loved finding out about a big mix of subjects. This eventually made me realise that I love finding out about all of the amazing things people are designing and creating, and sharing how brilliant they are, much more than I love doing all of the tough research that it involves myself!

I’m excited to show people that there is a part of STEM for everyone, and share some of the amazing things that are happening in STEM in the Highlands.