Selected young STEM ‘specialists’ from Ayr schools were encouraged to contemplate further study and careers in engineering at an event attended by Prince Charles.

Pupils with a strong interest in science, technology, engineering and maths, including groups from Queen Margaret Academy and Kyle Academy, received invitations to learn about careers and participate in workshops in The Morphy Richards Engineering Centre at Dumfries House.

Activities were run by ambassadors for The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, a global £1 million prize that celebrates a ground-breaking innovation in engineering.

A total of 36 pupils from six schools across Ayrshire rose to a series of engineering challenges, which included racing against the clock in a robotics challenge, controlling the rising global temperature using the Global Calculator, learning about innovative medical therapies, and discussing the basics of rapid design to generate solutions for future astronauts on Mars.

Dumfries House staff and industry experts were on hand to impart knowledge and advice, and HRH The Prince of Wales, whose charity The Prince’s Foundation is based at Dumfries House, dropped in to gauge the progress of pupils, who also came from Cumnock Academy, Auchinleck Academy, Greenwood Academy, and Irvine Royal Academy.

Julie Leishman, maths teacher and STEM co-ordinator at Queen Margaret Academy, said: “The pupils all commented that the event last week was the best STEM event they had ever been to. I felt that this was because the event both engaged and challenged them; while many events do one or the other, most don’t quite manage to achieve both and certainly not in every single activity.

“The presenters were all charismatic and relatable and were clearly proud of their achievements, as they should be. This event motivated pupils at a time of year where pupils really need to find that strength within them to pursue their desired job and work hard at their Highers in order to achieve that.

“Whilst the content of the activities doesn’t directly relate to the curriculum, the fast learning and problem solving involved in each activity really helped show pupils what they are capable of and, as their teacher, it was also an eye-opener for me to see how mature and intelligent these six pupils could be when challenged. I was extremely proud of them.”

Such education events at Dumfries House form a key element of the vision of His Royal Highness Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay, who used £20million of his charitable foundation’s money in 2007 to secure the future of the House and estate and use it to help people engage in learning experiences that promote confidence and personal development as well as offer training in real-life skills to open up future employment opportunities.

Karen Alexander, head of STEM education at Dumfries House, added: “It was a pleasure to host pupils.”