19 February 2021

Northern Alliance best practice to be showcased at STEM Nation event

A series of STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) community learning case studies developed in partnership by practitioners from the Northern Alliance is to be showcased at a STEM Nation event on February 23.

These case studies, developed as part of a collaboration between Aberdeen Science Centre, Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire councils, with Education Scotland grant funding, have also attracted attention from 97 different countries as part of a new online course for practitioners.

As well as being a keen team player and ambassador for STEM in the Northern Alliance’s CLD network, Avril Morrison is part of Aberdeenshire Council’s Community Learning and Development (CLD) team.

Her work includes designing and delivering science workshops for families across Aberdeenshire and she used this experience to help create the online course called ‘Science for Community Learning and Development Workers’. The idea is that the course will support other community workers to run science workshops in their own area, wherever in the world they might be!

The course was launched as part of the Northern Alliance’s Promoting Equity Week, which took place online during September 2020 and so far more than 1,400 practitioners have enrolled.

The series of STEM case studies will be presented by Avril at the Building STEM capital for families and communities STEM Nation event on February 23rd.

Avril explained: “I am really pleased to be taking these case studies to the STEM Nation event and also delighted to be contributing to the development of the STEM Nation Award for Community Learning and Development.

“I think sometimes people think of STEM and assume it has to be something complicated but there are so many family learning opportunities relating to STEM in our everyday. Think puddles, baking or bubbles – and I am so proud to be helping to bring this to life a bit more within communities by supporting community learning colleagues to develop their skills and confidence.”

During the Northern Alliance’s Promoting Equity Week, Avril attended e-Sgoil (the Northern Alliance e-learning school) Digital Equity training, as well as an ‘Excellence Through Collaboration’ workshop. This has spurred her into continuing to deliver adult learning opportunities online through the current lockdown and she is currently delivering one-to-one numeracy and maths sessions to adults in Huntly, Peterhead and Turriff.

Cllr Gillian Owen who is Chairs the Northern Alliance’s Convention of Conveners as well as her role as Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee commented: “There are many brilliant examples of colleagues working effectively together across the Northern Alliance, to improve outcomes for our communities. Avril’s story is testament to the enthusiasm, determination and commitment shown by staff working in many different specialist areas. They are rising to the challenges we’re facing, sharing best practice – informing the work of others locally, regionally and in this case even internationally – and continuing to support those who need us.”

Kostas Minas from Aberdeen Science Centre added: “This was a very exciting opportunity for us to create a digital resource that helps CLD practitioners engage with STEM. This collaboration helped Aberdeen Science Centre’s team work closer with practitioners from the Northern Alliance and gain insight of CLD. We are very happy to see the ‘Science for Community Learning and Development Workers’ course reaching a global audience. Similar to the case studies we’ve shared to date, we hope that practitioner engagement will directly translate to very positive outcomes for people and communities around the world.”