Renewables Engineering Islay – November Diary
We were all delighted to welcome Neil Chattle from Rolls-Royce to the school at the end of October. He spent time getting to know the team and having a tour of the school. He gave a presentation to the children in the afternoon and they had an opportunity to see some of the materials and parts that make up a Rolls-Royce jet engine. We were all amazed that the cooling mechanism allows the engine to operate above it’s melting point and that it would be capable of preventing an ice cube melting in a hot oven! Clever engineering indeed! Neil introduced the children to the Bloodhound SSC. Working in teams, the children then built model Bloodhounds powered by balloons and had a great afternoon trying to refine them to make them go faster. Coincidentally, Neil’s visit was the day before the first public test run of the Bloodhound in Newquay, Cornwall…..so the whole school watched as the car made 210mph. We will follow Bloodhound’s progress with interest.
Children as Leaders
Following leadership training, P6/7 children have been encouraged to set up clubs for younger pupils so we now have a KNEX Club and a Lego Club, in addition to the usual football, table tennis and dance clubs. Maureen MacDonald, Headteacher, encourages us to promote leadership at all levels within the school. The clubs have been really well attended and we used some of the funding to purchase new KNEX and Lego material for them. Dearbhla says that ‘KNEX club is really fun because you make something new every time and I am learning new skills to make cubes that are really tricky.’ Donald, who runs the Lego Club said that “We are encouraging children to use their imagination and be creative with the Lego.” Charlie is promoting teamwork by asking children to build small components of bigger models.
We have started an after-school club for children from P4-7, supervised by Jo Clark. Again there has been lots of interest in this and we are lucky to have the support of two senior pupils from Islay High School – Young STEM Ambassadors – to help us. It’s great to have these young women to be positive role models for girls in the primary school. They have been giving children open-ended problem solving tasks where children have had to work together to solve a problem. Last week they were engineering a carrier to transport a ping pong ball down a zip-wire.
Tomorrow’s Engineers Week
Throughout the school we are continuing to promote engineering and develop engineering habits of mind. As a school we engaged with Tomorrow’s Engineers Week. Jo Clark and P6/7 found out about sustainable engineering and the 6Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Refuse, Rethink and Repair – to appreciate that the environment needs to be considered alongside any engineering solution and that any design needs to be both efficient and sustainable in terms of the environment. Matthew Campbell says ‘We had to rank the 6Rs in order – I thought that reuse was the best one because things can be used many times are best for the environment.” They were tasked with building a “Helping Hand Grabber’ which had to have a reach of 1m. In Kate Brown’s P4/5 class the children looked at different types of bridge design. They then worked in groups to build some fantastic bridges. Already Kate could see progress in her children from the initial bridges that were built on the baseline build. In P1/2/3 Maggie Harrison invited parents in to join their children doing an engineering challenge – design and build a chair for baby bear, who had cruelly had his chair ruined when Goldilocks visited. Alison Logan and all the children in the Nursery have been making the most of the new resources we have bought for them – Kids KNEX and stories like Rosie Revere, Engineer. This week we are starting our joint sessions – structured play for pre-5 children and P1 and P2 together. Maggie and Alison will be working together on this; once the children are settled into this new routine this will be an ideal opportunity to share practice in developing engineering skills.
Thinking about Energy
Meanwhile the whole school are continuing to think about how we use energy in our school and in our lives. Our new Eco-monitors are being vigilant about switching off lights and George Dean from the Islay Energy Trust is going to get the school some energy meters. The Islay Energy Trust is a community-owned charity. Its aims are to develop and operate renewable energy projects for the benefit of the community, and to reduce the island’s carbon footprint. George will be supporting us with this project, organizing site visits for children and putting us in contact with different renewables companies that are looking to operate locally. P4/5 are busy organizing activities for Switch Off fortnight – more news to follow. In all the classes we have started looking at the effect that our energy use has on the planet and this will be our focus for the rest of this term. Maureen MacDonald and Maggie Harrison have met the Parent Council and are promoting the project more widely in the community.