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National challenge to encourage young people into STEM careers launched

January 2018 A major national challenge to excite and encourage children and young people into Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) careers has been launched at Bridge of Weir Primary School today by Derek Mackay, local MSP and Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution.

The Scottish Council for Development and Industry’s (SCDI) Young Engineers and Science Clubs (YESC) programme and leading national water retailer Wave have joined forces to create SCDI’s 2018 Science Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) Challenge, ‘Don’t Waste a Drop’.  The challenge – an annual competition for primary and secondary schools – will see 200 kits distributed to schools throughout Scotland and teams tasked with designing and building a pump and pipeline that can transfer water without wasting a drop.

Teams will be invited to showcase their designs and put them to the test during SCDI’s Regional Celebration of STEM events, with cash prizes awarded to winning teams to invest in STEM resources. The challenge culminates with the final at SCDI’s Annual Celebration of STEM, where national winners will be decided.

Wave is a 50/50 joint venture between Anglian Water Business (AWB) and Northumbrian Water Group Business (NWGB) and is the second largest water retailer in Scotland.  Wave currently operates the Scottish Government contract for providing water billing and efficiency services to Scotland’s public sector, including schools, universities, and local authorities.

Rebecca MacLennan, YESC’s Programme Director, said: “We are delighted to be launching this project in partnership with Wave.  Water leakage is an important issue for households, businesses and the environment.   The theme of water conservation provides a topical context for pupils in schools across Scotland to develop their interest in science and engineering. Throughout the challenge they’ll develop valuable skills for learning, life and work while gaining a fantastic insight into the diverse range of career opportunities within Wave and the sector.”

Tony March, Head of Public Sector at Wave, added: “We’re proud to support this challenge and to highlight not only the difficulties faced by water suppliers in keeping water flowing 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but also to inspire the next generation of STEM recruits. There are a wide variety of careers open to those with STEM qualifications and this challenge is a great opportunity to get young people excited about their future job prospects.”

Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution Derek Mackay, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for children to be creative and come up with innovative ways of conserving water which is important for our economy, environment, health and wellbeing.

“These are exactly the types of projects that can encourage young people to take an interest in STEM subjects like science and engineering and that can help us ensure our future workforce is well-equipped and supported to make the most of the fast-paced technological changes around us.”