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Countryside Rangers and STEM team partnership

Staff from two services have worked together to bring the joys of STEM subjects, the environment and nature to life for children with a new woodland trail.

The STEM Education Team has formed a unique partnership with the Countryside Rangers on the project, which is aimed at educating young people about their surroundings in a fun way.

The new interactive trail at Irvine’s popular Eglinton Park takes children on a 12-stop adventure with a helping hand from colourful dinosaur character called STEMosaurus, who points the way on each sign.

Each stop along the route features seasonal activities for young Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) fans to complete using a QR code plus information about the surrounding area and facts about the park’s wildlife and plants.

The QR code links to a website that has additional information about each stop and also offers STEM-at-home activities, including how to make a bird feeder or wormery.

STEM Coordinator Tim Dreyer, explained: “The idea for the trail came up because we were looking at ways to raise STEM awareness in the community.

“There are lots of local job opportunities linked to STEMand we want to encourage participation in STEM subjects and, in turn, pathways into STEM careers, from a young age.

“Ayrshire Growth Deal investment ensures that STEM industries will employ large numbers of North Ayrshire residents in the future.

“We also want to connect people to their environment by encouraging them to get outdoors and explore the local environment, and use the park for learning.

“So, we created this trail in partnership with the Countryside Rangers. It means families and groups of friends can have a free day out at the park – with Eglinton Castle, environmental activities, the playpark and now this new trail.”

What to expect…

Each stop sign focuses on different animals and birds, including woodpeckers roe deer, moles, kingfishers, grey squirrels, bats, otters, badgers, foxes and even the humble worm.

Importantly, you don’t need a smart phone or tablet to enjoy the trail and can simply follow the signs, and there is free WiFi at the visitor centre to make downloading the free digital content hassle free.

The creation of the STEM trail was made possible through funding allocated by the Council to support the delivery and development of outdoor experiences for children and young people.

Benefits of the project that tie in with key Council priorities include protecting our biodiversity, supporting positive lifestyle choices, improving outdoor learning experiences and offering families a free day out during the Cost-of-Living Crisis.

The trail is around 1.3km long, takes between 20 minutes and an hour to complete depending on how many activities you tackle and is aimed at children aged three to eight, but the whole family will enjoy it.

A Council first – partnership working in action

Amanda Downie, Senior Countryside Ranger, said: “We believe this is the first time in Scotland that Countryside Rangers and STEM experts have worked together on this type of project and we are very proud of it.”

Plans are in the pipeline for some colourful artwork to be installed along the trail in the coming months, featuring STEMosaurus, who was drawn by local cartoonist (top right pic, pictured right) Graeme Hunter and is based on a design by a pupil from Dreghorn Primary School.

Stay tuned on what our colleagues are up to by following North Ayrshire Ranger Service on Facebook here and North Ayrshire Ranger Service (@rangers_na) on X here. Follow North Ayrshire STEM on Facebook here and on NAC_STEM on  X here.

Photo highlights from official opening of STEM trail at Eglinton Country Park
Eglinton Country Park Logo
Countryside Ranger Andrew Todd has been heavily involved, he added: “The trail takes visitors on a walk through Larch Wood, by Eglinton Castle ruins, across Laundry Bridge and along Lugton water back to Tournament Bridge. Aimed at young children and their families, it can also be enjoyed by childminders and nurseries, or as a complementary activity for school groups visiting the park. We look forward to welcoming everyone!”

Countryside Ranger Andrew Todd and Modern Apprentice Adam Campbell show some young Eglinton Park visitors around the STEM trail.

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