Lighthouses inspire young Scots to learn digital skills

They have kept generations of sailors safe from harm and are a familiar sight among Scotland's coastal communities.

The Bell Rock lighthouse sits on a reef 12 miles off the coast of Arbroath and was designed by Robert Stevenson. Picture: Ian Rutherford/TSPL

Now lighthouses will be used to inspire young Scots to learn the skills required by the growing digital economy.

The Little Lighthouses project is one of 10 to win funding from Digital Xtra, a Holyrood-backed scheme that supports organisations to deliver extracurricular computing science and digital classes.

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The initiative will reach 1,200 P1-P4 pupils across the Highlands, Western Isles, Perth and Kinross and the Scottish Borders.

The project uses examples of lighthouses to introduce ‘Little Engineers’ to various STEM concepts including electricity, light, sounds and computing science.

Scotland has a long history of innovation when it comes to lighthouses.

One famous example, the Bell Rock lighthouse, stands in the North Sea 11 miles off the coast of Arbroath and is arguably the world’s first truly offshore lighthouse.

Opened in 1811 and still in operation, it is regarded as the greatest achievement of Robert Stevenson, the first of the famous dynasty of “lighthouse Stevensons”.

The Little Lighthouse project was developed by Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI) and BT and is the latest in a series of innovative projects supported by Digital Xtra.

The Scottish Government provided initial funding to launch Digital Xtra in May 2016 in partnership with organisations including Skills Development Scotland (SDS), Education Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and ScotlandIS.

“STEM subjects can open the door to significant and wide-ranging career opportunities: as well as improving literacy, numeracy and confidence, they can also provide the specialist knowledge and skills necessary to work in the ever-increasing STEM sectors of the economy,” said minister for further education and science Shirley-Anne Somerville.

“We’re determined to close the digital skills gap faced by all sectors across the economy which is why we are extremely proud to fund Digital Xtra through the digital skills investment plan.

“Initiatives like this are absolutely key to inspiring more young people to pursue a career in STEM.”