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Community / Return of science fair on the cards thanks to community benefit funding

AN ANNUAL science fair is set to return to Shetland thanks to community benefit funding from the company behind Shetland’s Burradale wind farm.

There will also be funding put towards new science equipment which could be used across all of Shetland’s schools.

The project will be financed by a £68,000 grant over five years from the Shetland Aerogenerators’ community benefit fund, which is managed by Shetland Community Benefit Fund (SCBF).

The project involves the reintroduction of an annual Shetland scene fair, which last took place in 2009.

A four-year plan will commence in 2024, initially on a relatively small scale, building up to a larger-scale festival in 2026/27.

There will also be more than £6,000 spent in 2024/25 on new equipment for the science investigations programme for local science technicians based at the Anderson High School to use across all of Shetland’s schools at all levels and by senior pupils in STEM leaders clubs.

The grant is also being awarded to Brae High School Parent Council to implement the project for the benefit of all students across Shetland.

SCBF said the Anderson High School science department provided “considerable time and expertise” to develop both aspects of the project, which will also be supported by the Shetland Aerogenerators development team.

A wide range of local and national specialist science organisations are being engaged to support the science fair and to grow it year on year.

A steering group will be formed to shape the project, make key decisions, align the programming with curriculum and organise school calendars and travel.

The steering group will initially include:

  • Brae High School Parent Council
  • Anderson High School Parent Council
  • Anderson High School Science Team
  • Shetland Islands Council education and youth services departments
  • Developing the Young Workforce
  • UHI Shetland
  • Other key STEM coordinators

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SCBF chair Chris Bunyan said: “When SCBF and Shetland Aerogenerators agreed the community benefit fund it was always the intention to focus on promoting STEMs work in local schools.

“We have to ensure young people have the necessary skills to work in the emerging new technologies.”

Shetland Aerogenerators project manager Andi Grochowski added: “While collaborating with the science educators and STEM coordinators at the AHS in Shetland, a gap was identified that this project will address.

“A key intention is to take the burden of coordination away from the schools. The attractions planned and ‘hands-on’ engagement with STEM topics takes the learning off the pages and out of the books to encourage the interest and enthusiasm among Shetland’s youth.

“We hope it can also showcase the opportunities available for their futures and build a passionate workforce for Shetland.”

Shetland Aerogenerators, formed in 1992, operators the five-turbine Burradale wind farm on the outskirts of Lerwick as well as the Luggie’s Knowe turbine near Dales Voe.

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