Of the 11 projects supported by Digital Xtra Fund in 2018, the Little Lighthouse programme will engage the youngest audience, introducing 6–8 year olds to digital skills. It is a creative interdisciplinary programme which encourages children to combine computing science with various other science and technology concepts such electricity, design, light and sound using lighthouses as context.
During the 2016/17 pilot year, Young Engineers and Science Clubs Scotland (YESC) received support as part of Digital Xtra Fund’s second funding round to assist with the programme’s roll-out in 40 schools across Perth & Kinross, Scottish Borders, Western Isles, and Highlands.
Little Lighthouse Programme to Expand
Based on the success of this initial cohort, further support was secured from Education Scotland to extend the programme across all 120 Highland primary schools and funding from the current Digital Xtra Fund grant awards will see Little Lighthouse expanded again into Argyll & Bute and Moray. This expansion will include teacher Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses as well as free resource kits for 18 schools in order to deliver the programme.
As part of Digital Xtra Fund’s support, YESC is targeting schools that do not currently offer extracurricular computing science related activities, building the confidence and knowledge of teachers in these schools to deliver digital activities.
Encouraging Digital Literacy
The first of these CPD courses took place at Dunoon Primary earlier this year with teachers from across Argyll & Bute in attendance. Aileen Morrison from Strone Primary said: “The resources for science/tech are always a challenge so providing this kit is fantastic. CodeBugs are new to me – learning to use them is really helpful. The kids will love using this’. Gina Nitschke from Innellan Primary added, ‘I now have a new idea to encourage digital literacy in the P1/2 class!”.
In total, 360 P2-P4 pupils in Argyll & Bute and Moray will take part in the Little Lighthouse programme learning digital concepts using Bee-Bots, CodeBugs, and Scratch. Pupils will complete eight exciting lighthouse themed modules, each building on concepts learned in the previous module.
From constructing a working model lighthouse in ‘High Height’ to learning about communicating over long distances in ‘Light Delights’, by placing computing science and creativity in a real-world context alongside fun, hands-on activities, the Little Lighthouse programme helps to instil a positive attitude to digital technologies at a young age, increasing the likelihood of young people going on to choose computing science subjects at school.
Additional Support from BT Scotland
Alongside support from Digital Xtra Fund, YESC is also working with BT Scotland as part of the Little Lighthouse programme to help engage young people with digital technologies. BT Scotland supports the Computing At School (CAS) Barefoot resources which provide teachers with a brilliant range of ‘unplugged’ activities to develop computational thinking skills.
Volunteers from BT Scotland are also invited to support schools participating in the programme by sharing their skills and career paths into digital roles with the children. This helps raise awareness of exciting opportunities within the digital sector in Scotland to both teachers and pupils and open their eyes to the diverse range of exciting career opportunities available within the sector.
Providing Scottish Children Access to Digital Creativity
Rebecca MacLennan, Programme Director at Young Engineers & Science Clubs Scotland, SCDI said: “Little Lighthouse is one of a range of innovative STEM projects available to schools across Scotland through SCDI’s YESC programme, supported by many partners including Digital Xtra Fund and BT Scotland.”
“We are delighted to have support from Digital Xtra Fund to continue to grow the Little Lighthouse programme across Scotland by engaging another two local authorities. Our CPD courses have been very well received by teachers who are now enthused to use the lighthouse context to help pupils develop valuable skills including computational thinking and inspire the future workforce!”
Little Lighthouse is one of 11 initiatives supported by Digital Xtra Fund’s annual grant awards, contributing to our goal to give every young person in Scotland access to a digitally creative activity.
These awards are made possible by the valued support of BT Scotland, a Digital Xtra Partner, and many others in Scotland’s tech industry, through sponsorship, donations and in-kind support. To help us continue this work, find out more about supporting Digital Xtra Fund and inspiring Scotland’s digital future here.