East Lothian pupils give science a sporting chance

An East Lothian school has had a visit from an Olympic athlete for a physics lesson with a difference. 

Scotland’s women’s curling captain, Eve Muirhead, visited Ross High in Tranent (7 June) as part of EDF Energy’s education outreach work to talk to them about the links between sport and science. 

After hearing about her career in curling and the ways that science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) are used in her sport the pupils took part in a hands-on experiment to explore friction, momentum and distance. 

The pupils had to build a hovercraft from a balloon, a CD and some blue-tac and try to land it on a target, much like the ones 2014 Winter Olympics bronze medallist and her team aim for on the curling rink. 

A study commissioned earlier this year by EDF Energy, which operates Torness power station, found that there will be 142,000 new jobs in science, research, engineering and technology between now to 2023 but current figures show there will be a shortfall in the number of graduates and apprentices available to fill these roles. For example there will be a 40% shortfall in engineering. 

Eve Muirhead said: “It was great to be able to talk to the pupils about my experiences and explain to them how science touches almost every part of my sport. Curlers use geometry and physics every time we take to the ice. We rely on doctors, physiotherapists, sports scientists and nutritionists to keep us fit for competition and design engineers ensure we have the right kit and equipment that will help us perform at our best”.   

Torness Station Director, Paul Winkle, said: “We are delighted to be working with Eve Muirhead to help children make the connections between STEM and sport and consider the variety of careers that are available to them by studying STEM subjects at school. EDF Energy is investing in the next generation of Scottish minds because we know that if Scotland is to address the energy challenges of the future it needs to have a workforce with strong skills in STEM.”

Ross High Maths teacher, Eddie White, said: “The pupils were very much engaged with the process and really seemed to like the fact that science and sport are so seamlessly integrated at this level. We tell them that all the time, but a current highly successful sportswoman is always going to be believed more.”

Third year pupil and member of the school hockey team, Erin Hill, said: “For someone who is so involved in sport and competes at a high standard, it was so interesting for me and the rest of my classmates to see how much science there really is behind sport.”

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