Pupils from Kirkmichael Primary School are among the first youngsters in Scotland to benefit from a series of innovative new nature-inspired STEM workshops at an Ayrshire estate with royal links.
A group of P4 - P7 pupils from the school visited The Morphy Richards Engineering Centre at Dumfries House near Cumnock to learn about sustainability issues, including air pollution, green energy and clean water.
The workshops, funded by the ScottishPower Foundation, have been developed as part of The Prince’s Foundation’s new Outdoor Elements programme. Inspired by the natural elements, the programme aims to inspire the next generation of creatives and innovators by connecting them with the natural environment through hands-on learning experiences that cannot be easily replicated in the classroom. The programme aims to raise awareness of the challenges our plant faced and how pupils can be at the forefront of solving them.
"Inspiring students to learn about our natural world from a young age means they can play a key role in a sustainable future. We believe passionately that STEM education is vital and The Prince’s Foundation is leading the way with its innovative Outdoor Elements programme."
Trustee and Executive Officer at ScottishPower Foundation
Such initiatives at Dumfries House form a key element of the vision of His Royal Highness Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay, who used £20million of his charitable foundation’s money in 2007 to secure the future of the House and estate and use it to help people engage in learning experiences that promote confidence and personal development as well as offer training in real-life skills to open up future employment opportunities.
The Prince’s Foundation is one of 25 charities supported by the ScottishPower Foundation this year. In March, it announced a £1.25 million funding programme to support charitable organisations that support the next generation and make positive differences in local communities across the country.
Karen Alexander, STEM education co-ordinator for The Prince’s Foundation at Dumfries House, said: “In recent years, we have welcomed thousands of school pupils onto education programmes across Dumfries House estate. We are delighted that the ScottishPower Foundation has once again provided us with funding to help us meet our objective of making STEM exciting and relevant to young people.
“We were very impressed with how well the pupils from Kirkmichael Primary School engaged with our Outdoors Elements programme and received some great feedback from them about how much they enjoyed learning about the natural elements. We hope that many of them will consider pursuing STEM subjects at school and, in future, a career in that field.”
The Morphy Richards Engineering Education Centre at Dumfries House was officially opened by HRH The Prince of Wales in 2015 and is used to challenge thousands of visiting school pupils to imagine, design, build and test solutions to real-world problems every year.
Hope Cousins, class teacher at Kirkmichael Primary School, said: “It was my first time visiting Dumfries House and I was very impressed by the educational workshops offered by The Prince’s Foundation. The pupils loved learning about the water cycle and particularly enjoyed collecting water samples from the tap, river and playpark and learning how to filter them using charcoal, cotton wool, sand and gravel.
“We are currently focusing on STEM topics in the classroom so the workshop tied in nicely to the curriculum for excellence.”
Ann McKechin, Trustee and Executive Officer at ScottishPower Foundation, added: “Inspiring students to learn about our natural world from a young age means they can play a key role in a sustainable future. We believe passionately that STEM education is vital and The Prince’s Foundation is leading the way with its innovative Outdoor Elements programme.”
The ScottishPower Foundation was established in 2013. It provides funding to registered charities which are involved in the advancement of education, environmental protection, citizenship and community development, science, the arts, heritage or culture as well as the prevention of poverty and relief of disability or other disadvantages.
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