Highlands & Islands

UK's first Newton Room created in Thurso in Caithness

Pupils Image copyright HIE
Image caption The new facility will be used for encouraging young people in Stem subjects

The UK's first Scandinavian-style learning centre, known as a Newton Room, has been opened in Caithness.

In Norway and Denmark the centres are used to encourage young people to take an interest in science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem).

The UK's first "room" has been created at North Highland College in Thurso.

The Inverness and Highland City Region Deal has provided £3m towards the project.

The Caithness facility has been made available to schools, and there are plans for a network of Newton Rooms in the Highland region.

The first Newton Room was opened in Norway more than 10 years ago. The country now has 38 of these learning centres, and the first to be opened outside of Norway was in Denmark in 2015.

Newton, the organisation behind the facilities, offers recommendations on how the rooms should be laid out. Typically there is a main room with separate work stations and separate areas for a laboratory and a classroom.

It suggests making use of bright colours, sound and lighting to help create "dynamic and inspiring" learning sessions.

The modules taught are designed to help pupils prepare for a job in science or industry.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Modules taught at the Caithness Newton Room will be targeted at sectors such as renewable energy

Highlands and Islands Enterprise, which has been involved in the Thurso room, said modules would be targeted at locally important industries.

Regional development director Carroll Buxton said these included renewable energy, aquaculture and potentially the launch of small commercial satellites into space.

She said: "There are a number of sectors in the Highlands and Islands that have an increasing demand for skills in Stem subjects."

Further Education Minister Richard Lochhead said: "The Newton Rooms project offers pupils and the community a wonderful opportunity to discover and become enthused by Stem.

"This is the first facility of its kind to open in the UK, supported by the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal, and reflects Scotland's position as a pioneer in Stem.

"It is important that we engage and involve people from all walks of life and at all ages to develop Stem skills and knowledge in our rapidly changing world, to enrich their lives and benefit the Scottish economy."

Image copyright ANGUSMACKAY.CO.UK
Image caption Further Education Minister Richard Lochhead officially opened Thurso's Newton Room

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