Dundee Science Centre

New Schools Programme to Power the Future

Thousands of local school pupils have taken part in a pioneering new project supporting teachers to deliver science in the classroom.

In its first year at Dundee Science Centre, the national Learning Lab “Powering the Future” programme, which is aligned with the Curriculum for Excellence, has provided free resources and support to primary and secondary schools (P5-S2) throughout Dundee, Angus, Fife, Perth and Kinross, while also giving teachers the training to deliver the programme themselves.

Learning Lab Barnhill PS

Barnhill Primary School pupils enjoying their visit to Dundee Science Centre as part of ‘Learning Lab’.

Since its launch, Learning Lab – Powering the Future has engaged around 2,500 pupils across 35 local schools.  Dundee Science Centre is now gearing up to provide resources to schools next term, starting August 2024, on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.

Through exciting hands-on experiments, pupils have used household items to learn how turbines and gears power renewable energy sources and generators. They’ve explored the importance of Scottish peatlands in carbon dioxide reduction by burying tea bags in soil and mixing lemon juice and baking soda to explore how carbon capture can tackle the climate challenge.

Learning Lab Barnhill PS

Barnhill Primary School pupils.

OPITO, the global energy skills organisation, is funding the delivery of this three-year Scotland-wide STEM learning programme and, with Glasgow Science Centre as the national lead, aims to raise awareness of the energy transition and the associated skills and career opportunities in Scotland. In addition to providing schools with step-by-step, hands-on activities, the programme offers home learning resources, a local science centre visit, and the opportunity to meet a practising scientist or engineer. Aligned with CfE experiences and outcomes, Learning Lab also provides teachers with lesson plans, worksheets and original video content.

During a recent learning lab visit to Dundee Science Centre, pupils from Langlands Primary School met staff from the Dundee-based company Coast Renewable Services, which provides diagnostic, repair and maintenance services to the renewable energy industry. With a reputation for reliability and trust, the company has successfully delivered some of the largest onshore wind farms in the UK.

Mark Robson, Managing Director of Coast Renewable Services, said, “We’re enthusiastic about educating children on our work and how they can contribute to shaping the future. We know this isn’t usually taught in schools, so we want to share our message with them while they’re young. The field is full of various opportunities and a wealth of information. The pupils often find themselves pleasantly surprised by what they learn, particularly about the incredible power of wind turbines. Our staff also enjoy participating in learning labs; it’s a refreshing change for them, and they have fun answering the pupils’ questions.”

Learning Lab Coast

Pupils from Longlands Primary School alongside Coast Renewable’s Laura Kean (Account Manager), Jak Derrick-Ross from Dundee Science Centre and Coast Renewable’s Carolyn McLaren (Director of Resource & Recruitment).

Dr Stephen Breslin, Chief Executive Officer, Glasgow Science Centre, said, “Learning Lab started as our response to the restrictions of the pandemic and has now become a national programme supported by partners across industry sectors, providing exceptional learning experiences to young people throughout Scotland. Learning Lab – Powering the Future’s success is thanks to generous funding from OPITO and strong collaboration with our network of delivery partners. Evaluation shows that participating teachers feel more confident to teach STEM and more knowledgeable about the energy transition which is very much what we set out to achieve.”

Dr Isabel Bruce OBE, Chief Executive Officer at Dundee Science Centre, added, “We’re passionate about inspiring and empowering young people by putting them at the centre of their own learning, and Learning Lab does just that. From inspirational video calls and practical experiments with STEM professionals to  activities encouraging pupils to work together to solve problems, pupils are building their own narrative while developing social, practical and scientific thinking skills.”

For more information and to book your class onto Learning Lab, visit https://www.dundeesciencecentre.org.uk/learning-lab/