January Diary

Renewables Engineering Islay – January


The new term started on the 8th January and the new year has started with wild and windy weather here in Islay.  A perfect opportunity to see wind power in action….


Renewables Visits

Last week Primary 6/7 with Jo Clark went on a renewables trip around the Island with George Dean from the Islay Energy Trust to find out more about how our island is helping fight global warming.  They visited the community wind turbine, the biomass generator at Dunlossit house, the Solar panels at the Gaelic College and a micro hydro electric scheme at Ballygrant quarry.  Here they got to see renewable feats of engineering in their local environment.  A few days later Kate Brown and Primary 4/5 had the opportunity to do the same trip.

Robyn and Phoenix wrote We went inside the wind turbine.  it was very noisy. Mr. Dean showed us how fast the blades were going. It was going very fast for a small wind turbine. Mr. Dean talked about wind turbines and how much it cost (the wind turbine cost £1.2 million) and how it works. We learned the satellite on the wind turbine sends the information about how much electricity is produced to the company in Germany. Millie and Charlet Rose told us that The wind turbine stopped spinning at one point when we were there and the kilowatts went to zero. The wind turbine can adjust it’s blade depending on the direction of the wind and can shut down if it gets too windy.

Both classes got such a lot of learning from their visits and it helped them to understand that a sustainable energy solution can be a mix of different types of renewable energies. George Dean spoke to P4/5 about the history of the Islay Community turbine and all the considerations that were taken into account when siting the turbine.  The class enjoyed a debate about whether a wind turbine should be built at the Ard, in Port Ellen however children didn’t want one in their own back yard.

BP Ultimate STEM Challenge Competition

Inspired by their visit to the micro hydroelectric scheme, one group of Primary 7s decided to build and test their own hydro electric generator from KNEX for the BP Ultimate STEM challenge competition.  They produced a video which can be viewed on the school website at https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/ab/peps/2018/01/14/bp-stem-challenge-handy-hydro-port-ellen-entry/ Lauren said It was a good experience to learn about all the different energy sources.  It was really challenging to build our turbine and we had detailed plans.  We did lots of testing to see which combination produced the most energy.


Energy Use in School

Continuing our learning about energy in Term1, Kate Brown’s class (P4/5) are continuing to try and persuade us all to use less energy.  The Lights-Off Christmas Disco with glow sticks was a roaring success and children thought that it was the best disco ever! Next on the agenda is the use of plastic!  Primary 6/7 have finally managed to complete the school’s carbon footprint.  We found out that the school produces 61 tonnes of CO2 a year, and 55 tonnes of that is through energy use.  The children suggested turning down the heating, turning off lights and computers on charge might help with this. Jo Clark has been in further discussions with George Read about energy meters that are suitable for monitoring energy use on this scale.  Much of our heating system is automated but we have decided that to reduce our energy consumption in the long term we need to look at the temperature in the school.


Who will Save Us?

Meanwhile, in P1/2/3 with Maggie Harrison, the children have learned in a simple way about global warming and some of the reasons for the build up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.  They were fascinated to learn that lots of gas comes from cows’ bottoms!  They thought about some of the possible solutions and Katie suggested that we eat vegetables instead of lots of meat.  So P1/2/3 are looking like they are right on trend.  The children worked in groups or with a partner to come up with ways to share their learning and explain to other children about global warming and what they could do to help.  They came up with puppet shows, film (animation) and story books which they have read and performed to the children in nursery.

Engineering in Pre-School

Children in nursery are still being encouraged to think like Rosie Revere Engineer and solve problems for themselves.  Alison Logan says that the latest mission was to clear the outside boat of ice and water.  Problem solving tasks are continuing to be incorporated into the joint sessions with P1/2/3.

We are hoping to have some local engineers in to talk to the children and Maureen MacDonald is going to get in touch with local contacts.  She is also in the process of formulating a new vision for Port Ellen – making sure that our Eco-Schools work and STEM activities have a high profile in taking the school forward.



Date Purchases Cost
20th December Mechanical Workshop Class Pack £100.00
Energy Storage Circuit (Pk30) £19.95
Solar Bag £19.99
Solar Module £26.85
Simple Machines £24.95
Assorted fans, propeller blades £13.55
Solar Panels £16.25
P & P £4.95
16th January Hire of 16 seater minibus, 2 trips £240.00
Total Expenses £466.49
Remaining Money £4411.75

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