Boyd Tunnock helps schools STEM event go with a ‘bang’

Lanarkshire's first Big Bang Fair took place at New College Lanarkshire
Lanarkshire's first Big Bang Fair took place at New College Lanarkshire

Boyd Tunnock has launched the region’s first Big Bang Fair at New College Lanarkshire in the company of hundreds of school pupils.

The head of Uddingston-based bakery, Tunnock’s, who was made a fellow of the college in 2016, visited the Motherwell Campus for the start of the two-day event.

The Big Bang Fair is a showcase of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects that allows pupils to try out new skills in a fun learning environment.

The event was organised by Developing the Young Workforce (DYW), a Scottish Government programme aiming to reduce youth unemployment by 40 per cent by 2021, and ESP, a collaboration of colleges and industry partners established to increase Scotland’s capability and capacity to deliver the right skills for the energy, engineering and construction sectors.

It aims to inspire young people to pursue a career in STEM-related roles through engaging with exciting interactive activities and speaking with employers.

DYW programme manager Alison Nimmo said: “This is the first Big Bang STEM inspiration event brought to Lanarkshire in collaboration with DYW, ESP and the college.

“It presents a fantastic opportunity for our young people to gain an inspirational insight into a wide range of interactive STEM-related activities and related careers.”

ESP employer support manager Wendy Findlay said: “These STEM events are supported by Scotland’s colleges and an ever-increasing number of education and industry partners.

“They aim to inspire young people to continue with their studies in science, maths and technical studies by providing hands-on interactive activities which widen their understanding of how STEM subjects are relevant to potential future careers.”

The pupils were split into groups named after famous Scots inventors and scientists before being chaperoned around the campuses by student volunteers.

The first day at the Motherwell Campus involved more than 140 S1 and S2 pupils from Bellshill Academy, Brannock High, Taylor High, Dalziel High, Braidhurst High, St Aidan’s High, Clyde Valley High, Coltness High and Lanark Grammar having a go at science and technology-related tasks and meeting local employers.

Pupils were able to try their hand at activities such as digital animation, programming robots, songwriting, a security systems escape challenge, and changing the wheels of a college-branded Knockhill racecar.

The second day in the college’s Coatbridge Campus attracted almost 160 pupils from Our Lady’s High (Cumbernauld), St Maurice’s High, Boclair Academy, Douglas Academy, Kirkintilloch High, Chryston High, Coatbridge High, Airdrie Academy, St Ambrose High and St Margaret’s High.

The Coatbridge Campus event saw pupils visit the high-tech dental and science facilities, learn about recording techniques in the sound studios, get to grips with Lego robots and try out a Microbit fitness tracker.

Participating employers included the Royal Air Force, University of the West of Scotland, Di Maggio’s, Construction Industry Training Board), ICE (Institution of Civil Engineers), NHS Lanarkshire and Dawnfresh.

Each Big Bang event was rounded off with a thank you to all those who attended and pupils leaving with goodie bags that included a sweet treat from Tunnock’s.

Mr Tunnock, who famously invented the Tunnock’s Teacake, said: “First and second year at school is the best stage to interest young people and show them what they can do; anything from becoming a motorcycle mechanic to a baker. You’ve got so much to choose from here at the college.

“Technology is very important to us at Tunnock’s – we’re continually training people and bringing in modern equipment to improve our business.

“It’s super to be asked to come to the college today. When I think back to the highlights of my career, getting a standing ovation from all the students at graduation at the Royal Concert Hall two years ago was absolutely wonderful. It was such a lift for me.”

Matthew Smith, head of faculty for Computing and Creative Industries, said: “STEM subjects are important to the college and vital to the future of our economy.

“This event allows S1 and S2 school pupils to gain an insight into the breadth of STEM subjects offered by the college and available to them, as an option for further study, once they leave school.”