A global tech firm used iPads and miniature robots to stimulate interest in technology for high school kids with additional support needs in Stirling this week.

Canadian IT giant CGI hosted a ‘STEM camp’ event at Wallace High School in the city to give pupils a taste of a career in technology.

Pupils from Ochil House at the school were given the chance to learn how to use Spheros – little circular interactive robots – by guiding them around on iPads.

They built obstacle courses and also used their iPads to change their colours, before racing them off against each other. All activities were tailored to fit in with the different life challenges of each individual pupil.

The youngsters also got to meet Marty the Robots, which are also designed to make learning about computer science and coding a fun and engaging experience.

Kym Anderson, principal teacher at Ochil House, Wallace High School, said: “We are delighted that CGI’s STEM camp came to Wallace High. The pupils at Ochil House love science and STEM, and there were huge levels of interest and engagement across the board. 

“All the current research shows that to increase the level of participation in STEM at secondary school level, the learning needs to be targeted towards their interests and fun. This is certainly the case for our Ochil House pupils, and the ambassadors at CGI saw first-hand how well they responded to using the Spheros creatively.

“But the ultimate aim is to remove barriers in STEM education and STEM opportunities for these brilliant young people so they can enjoy fruitful careers later in life. We want them to see the opportunities that are before them if they embrace STEM education. Today provided them with just that.”

The CGI team was led by Shabnam Rehman, director consulting delivery, whose own daughter Sarah was in the first Ochil House group.

Lindsay McGranaghan, CGI vice-president and business unit lead for Scotland and Northern Ireland, said: “Our camps are all about making learning fun, but they have a very important part to play in encouraging youngsters to embrace the world of science and STEM and the opportunities that they bring.”

The aim of the STEM – science, technology, engineering and maths – camp is to engage the pupils in activities which make STEM fun and interesting.

The camps also feed into a wider attempt to reduce the attainment gap between those living with disadvantage, be it physical, educational, emotional or economic, and their peers.

The CGI STEM camp fitted into a range of support and opportunities that aim to equip the pupils with knowledge and skills on STEM that have a lasting impact. All the youngsters who attended the camp study science and the older ones are working towards their National qualifications.