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Kilmarnock FC use Alexander Fleming to inspire Castlepark pupil's STEM goals

Posted on 27 Feb 2024

Kilmarnock Football Club fans who like to adorn the away shirt on games beyond Rugby Park, will notice that the current Killie away strip has a unique STEM design.

With a Penicillin-inspired pattern, the statement STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) shirt celebrates the chemical construct of the world’s first ever antibiotic – penicillin, discovered in 1928 by Ayrshire’s very own Sir Alexander Fleming.

Reigniting the story behind Fleming’s accidental discovery, ‘The Killie Community’ team have been visiting local North Ayrshire schools to spark STEM interest.

The STEM sessions have been supported by scientific experts GSK – a global biopharma company with a manufacturing facility in Irvine.

With Beith, St Peter’s, St Bridget’s, St Luke’s, Dykesmains, Caledonia and Ardeer Primary school’s already in the back of the net, the latest interactive STEM session took place at Castlepark Primary school, and it proved a big hit with pupils there.

Through a series of easy scientific experiments that can be replicated by teachers in the school with other classes too, P5 pupils had the chance to discover more about the important role antibiotics play in keeping us healthy.

Afterwards, pupils then had an opportunity to show off their impressive footwork and stamina in challenging fitness and football coaching drills, highlighting the importance of exercise in leading a healthy lifestyle.

Councillor Shaun Macaulay, Cabinet Member for Education and Young People said: “Thank you to Kilmarnock Football Club and GSK for teaming up with North Ayrshire schools once again.

“Not only have they provided our young learners with the opportunity to connect with their local scientific heritage, the sessions have also helped them to gain a greater understanding of the exciting STEM careers available in North Ayrshire.

“This was an excellent opportunity for Castlepark’s primary 5 pupils to participate in health and science activities directly linked to local industry, hearing first hand about the education pathways of professionals working in these industries.

“Like the introduction of our STEM learning trail at Eglinton Country Park – developed in partnership with North Ayrshire’s STEM team and our Countryside Ranger Service, the STEM learning sessions are a great example of how schools can team up with local community partners and industries to enrich learning experiences out with the classroom.

“This collaborative approach is vital for nurturing an interest in STEM careers and the sessions are of upmost importance if we are to continue to develop a highly skilled future workforce for the region. The activities undertaken could very well inspire these young people to pursue careers in sports science or chemical engineering in North Ayrshire, so this was a great learning experience for all involved.”

STEM industries are a major source of employment in North Ayrshire. Research shows that children have self-selected in or out of STEM subjects by the age of 7 so the Council, alongside its partners will continue to engage with pupils at a young age on sessions like the one held at Castlepark to inspire pupils to set their own STEM goals.

Craig Tracey, The Killie Community’s Community Support Officer added: “This unique project is using the power of football to inspire the next generation of scientists.

“Working across North Ayrshire schools, using the penicillin-themed design on Kilmarnock FC’s away top, we are enjoying huge success sparking young people’s interest in STEM with over 15 schools participating across the three-Ayrshire’s so far.

“Thanks to the Castlepark pupils for another memorable session and to GSK for teaming up with us and North Ayrshire STEM on this incredibly worthwhile community learning programme.”

With British Science Week (8-17 March) on the horizon, North Ayrshire learners will be participating in further activities including visits from STEM Ambassadors and live lessons focussing on this year’s theme of ‘time’.