Building Together

  

Thanks to all parents and community members who came along to our Community Open Afternoon to celebrate the end of our year-long Rolls-Royce project and share with the children all the fantastic learning that had taken place.  Comments we received were all very positive about the experience and impact on children’s learning.  It was lovely to see children and parents building together and having just as much fun!  Happy engineering!

Sandwiches anyone?

  

We have been learning about healthy eating and all the different food groups.  We have designed our own sandwiches and got to make them!  We also learned about hygiene in the kitchen, how to use sharp knives safely and Mrs Holyoake explained all about the different chopping boards and how to store food correctly.

P1/2/3 Renewables Trip

  

On 23rd May P1/2/3 went on a trip to see the different renewables being used in Islay.  First we went to Dunlossit Estate where David Gillies showed us the biomass boiler and we saw that the store where all the wood chips were stored was like a giant slushy machine.  Then we went to Ballygrant to see the hydro power station…it fitted inside a shed!  Finally George Dean took us to the wind turbine and we got to go inside it.  All were very intrigued by the upside down computer.  Thanks to David and George for a great day.

  

May Diary

Renewables Engineering Islay – May Diary

 

As the end of our year-long project approaches there has been no slowing down here in Port Ellen….

 

Mentor Visit

Again, we were delighted to have our mentor, Neil Chattle, visit the school at the end of April.  He toured the school to see what the children had been up to and looking at displays of their work.  The children in nursery with Alison Logan were very keen that he see the boat that they’d built…and check out the tadpoles! In the afternoon Neil introduced all the children to jet engines and let them assemble amazing model engines used by apprentices at Rolls-Royce.  There was lots of adrenaline running in the competition to see which team could assemble their engine  fastest.

 

Learning about Solar Energy

P1/2/3 and Maggie Harrison have been finding out about life in rural Africa.  Having read the story of Handa’s Surprise they have investigated what it’s like to live in rural Africa and how homes there don’t have electricity.  Evie’s mum came in to talk to the class about her experience of living in a remote part of Tanzania and she showed the children a kerosene lamp that people might use to light their homes.  The children learned how solar energy might be helpful.  They built models of African homes and added solar panels and lighting – a great addition to the sand tray which was full of wild animals.  They also built and tested solar ovens!

 

The Boy who Harnessed the Wind

Also thinking about how renewables could be used in developing countries were P4/5.  They read The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamwamba. Everyone was amazed that this was a true story of a 14 year old boy. Scott said I was surprised it was a real story. I think the boy was sad when everyone called him crazy but he showed resilience and kept working on his idea. Kate Brown used the story as a novel study and the children worked in groups to understand more about living in rural Malawi. They then watched William Kamwamba as an adult presenting his story to an audience. Kate was amazed about the impact this had on the children in her class and told us I heard one of the children at a family party tell everyone about this amazing real life story of a young boy in Malawi and the incredible things he did to help feed his village.

 

Gael Force Test Run

Kate Brown and the group from P4/5 tested their floating wind turbine, Gael Force, for the Knotts to Watts competition on the day that the Rolls-Royce media team visited.  It was typically wild, wet and windy!  The dads who had been involved in supporting the build were just as keen to see if it worked on the sea….and they were not disappoionted. The group are looking forward to seeing how the device performs in the giant wave tank when they go to Glasgow in June.

 

Climate Change

This month Jo Clark’s class have focused on climate change, who it affects and how we can help.  They have looked at the carbon footprint of different countries and heard stories about women around the world who are working to help communities adapt to climate change.  Rowan said I was surprised climate change doesn’t affect everyone equally.  Poorer countries are more affected by severe weather than we are, which isn’t fair because rich countries are contributing more to climate change.  Now they are working on inventions that can help save people from climate events around the world.  They created climate change spiral poems for the visit of author and scientist Nicola Davies, who writes stories for children with an environmental theme.

 

We are Engineers

One of the main aims in the project was to raise the profile of engineering among our children. This is already showing some impact. Primary 6&7 carry out Endeavour projects every year; long term projects chosen by the children which are ambitious, look at developing new skills and have to be shared with the local community at the end.  This year our focus on engineering has led to some interesting project choices.  Sophie is currently building a hydraulic robot arm as part of her Endeavour on biomedical engineering.  I chose this project because I think girls should be able to do engineering and I would like a job that helps people.  Taylor has built a model Haynes combustion engine as part of his project on mechanical engineering; To build the model was ambitious and challenging and Donald is learning about electrical engineering and has built a capacitor circuit to store energy for the P123 class solar lights in their African huts.  The same impact is being seen throughout the school.  In nursery Erin asked Alison Logan Are we going to be engineering today? Jo Clark also arranged for P6/7 from Port Charlotte Primary to visit Port Ellen for some paper plane engineering!

 

Upcoming Events

Although this will be the final diary entry we will keep you updated on our upcoming events and continued progress with our project.  George Dean is organising to take P1/2/3 to see the hydro dam, wind turbine and solar panels at the Gaelic College now that the weather is better and these younger children have a better understanding of renewable energy. The team are planning a large community event to share our journey on 29th May and Maureen MacDonald has been in discussion with BBC Alba to come along and film.  Maureen is also in discussions with the council and liaising with the Islay Energy Trust about the possibility of us installing a wind turbine in the school,– a lasting legacy from this project

 

Budget

We have not spent any money this month so we still have £3280.99  in the budget.  Alison and Maggie are planning to to buy some additional construction material for the Pre-5 unit and some solar lighting for the school; remaining money will go towards our legacy projects.

Solar Ovens

 

There was great excitement in P1/2/3…and a bit of envy from P4/5….as the solar ovens were used to cook marshmallows and melt chocolate digestives.  Even although it was not particularly warn, we were amazed how quickly the ovens melted the chocolate and marshmallow.  William is keen to cook pizza next!

African huts….using solar power

P1/2/3 have read the story of Handa’s Surprise and been learning about life in Africa.  They have found out that it is very different in rural Africa from the city.  They build these huts from straw, clay and wooden sticks….then added solar panels and LED lights.  They were a great addition to the sand tray with all the African animals. The children learned how useful solar panels can be in helping children in rural Africa to do their homework.  Evie’s mum showed the children a kerosene lamp that would be used – costly to run, dangerous and giving off nasty fumes.  We researched case studies and made these Explain Everything to show what we had learned.

How strong are eggs?

       

We have been discovering how strong eggs are and learning to measure at the same time!  Underneath this stack of books are only three eggs…..and two trays of eggs can support a small person!  We were amazed when we watched a film clip of Richard Hammond balancing two crushed cars on a large array of eggs. Check it out.

 

All about life in Tanzania

P1/2/3 really enjoyed Evie’s mum coming to visit the class to tell them all about life in rural Tanzania where she lived.  She explained all about the Masai, showing them some lovely fabrics.  She also told them how resourceful Tanzanian people are reusing and recycling things – making bags out of bottle tops and sandals out of car tyres.  Thanks you Mrs Wood!

Building jet engines

  

Neil Chattle, our Rolls-Royce mentor, visited the school on 26th April.  He gave a talk to the whole school about jet engines and brought some model jet engines for us to try building.  We had a great day and ended with a challenge for teams of children to work together to build the model engine in the fastest possible time!

April Diary

Renewables Engineering Islay – April Diary

 

With Easter on the horizon the team decided that we’d do a bit of…..

Egg Engineering

All the children in the school have been finding out about the strength of eggs. P1/2/3 and the Pre-5 unit were amazed to watch a video clip showing that a huge tray of eggs could support the weight of two cars!  In their joint play session they investigated to see if eggs could hold up a person.  Primary children then engineered different ways to drop an egg without them breaking, learning about gravity and air resistance along the way.  There were lots of parachutes……but also trampolines and some very innovative but simple designs.  Primary 6/7 used Newton’s three laws when thinking about their engineering designs.  Throughout the build the children were encouraged to think like engineers and use the engineering process to imagine, plan, create and improve on their designs.  Since the whole school were involved in this, we used this as an opportunity to use maths skills within an engineering context.  Children measured length, weight and volume of eggs.  They worked out the area of parachutes and time taken for eggs to drop.  Primary 6/7 children also calculated the speed of descent. At the end of the week the children worked in cross-stage groups to design and build wind-powered cars.  We showed the children the incredible Theo Jansen strandbeests to inspire them.  Parents were then invited to join us for the final testing seeing which vehicle went furthest, fastest and could cope with a tricky obstacle course while keeping the egg secure. Connor, P3, said It’s been great fun this week because we were building stuff and building is my thing. Ellen thought it was great fun and I liked how we got all the parents in. Aiden said I enjoyed racing the cars and learning all about friction and things.

Maureen MacDonald spoke to the parents about the Rolls-Royce Science Prize and what a great experience it had been for the school.  She also said that we were planning a community event to celebrate all the work that had been done over the past few months.

Parents were also encouraged to do a little engineering themselves, building rafts to support an egg. It proved to be trickier than we thought! Comments from parents included Amazing experience for all the children with so much fun and learning, loved the teamwork, Well done Port Ellen Primary – what an interesting project, Fantastic – hope it encourages lots of budding engineers.

 

Knotts to Watts

Kate Brown and P4/5 have  also had great parental involvement in helping to build a prototype floating wind turbine for the Knotts to Watts competition.  It was very exciting for the children to see their own designs and models being scaled up and fantastic to have the support of a couple of dads. For two afternoons Dearbhla’s dad and Morgan’s dad worked with the group to develop the children’s design.  It is very innovative with two turbine heads.  Initial testing in the classroom got the blades turning and it did produce electricity.  The class are looking forward to testing it out in the sea next week.  The whole school is very proud that the group have been invited to test their design in a wave tank as part of the Young Scientists and Engineers event in Glasgow in June.

Gus Newman, one of the parents, commented  I enjoy coming in to school and working with the young ones and getting them involved in future technology. I really like seeing their creativity.

Nuts and Bolts

The Parent Council are very supportive of everything that we do in school.  They have helped us to set up our Nuts and Bolts shed in the playground.  This is based around the idea of a scrap store with nets, ropes, crates, creels etc. The children have had great fun building lots of new things using the fish boxes donated by Drew’s dad.  Kate Brown has taken responsibility for sourcing material for the shed…and we are hoping to build on this in the future. In the nursery outdoor play area Alison Logan has had dads in to develop a system of water chutes for children to explore.

 

STEM Homelinks

Maggie Harrison and Maureen MacDonald are thinking about how we move forward as a school after the Rolls-Royce project is over.  We have started to use a STEM self-evaluation tool to help us.  One of things we would like to improve is parental engagement with STEM.  Maggie, in her role as Primary Cluster Mentor, has been working with two colleagues from other primary schools and as a team they have agreed to develop a series of STEM bags that can be sent home with activities that children can do with their parents.

Budget

Since we have been on holiday for two weeks we have had no outgoing this month so we still have £3280.99 in the budget.  The children have expressed an interest in getting a wind turbine for the school and are in contact with George Dean to see how we could go about this.

Parachutes in P1/2/3

P1/2/3 have been learning about parachutes (air resistance) and they used Explain Everything to record their experiments inserting video clips of their tests, how they made their tests fair and the results.  They were then able to use this information in the design of their own parachutes to protect an egg from smashing when dropped from the top of the stairs.

Mission Adoption Accomplished

After Katie suggested to the class that we adopt a polar bear, P1/2/3 have not raised the £50 required from selling popcorn and adopted a Svalbard polar bear.  We’ve named him Snowball.  We have learned that polar bears are becoming endangered due to global warming.  Less ice means that there is less of an area for them to hunt, they have to swim longer distances between ice and they are coming into conflict with humans when they approach towns in Alaska and can get shot.  We found out that they have polar bear jails where they can catch them and then release them back where it is safer and not near where people live.

March Diary

Renewables Engineering Islay – March Diary

 

A key part of what we wanted to do with our project this year was to involve other primary schools on the islands.  There are primary schools in Bowmore, Port Charlotte and Keills as well as Small Isles Primary School on the Isle of Jura.  With National Science & Engineering Week coming up we decided that this would be an ideal time to get everyone together to work on a series of engineering challenges organised by Maggie Harrison, with the support of Jo Clark and Kate Brown.

 

Fairytale Engineering

The first session we ran was for children working at Early/First Level – from P1-P4.  On the day we had 60 children meet together to work on some fairytale engineering.  The focus was on developing creativity and children’s ideas for problem solving.  The tasks were linked to the story of Rapunzel; first they had to build a tower for Rapunzel using mini marshmallows and cocktail sticks, exploring the strength of different shapes; then they had to work out a way for Rapunzel to escape the tower. Back in Port Ellen, P1/2/3 continued this learning, coming up with some amazingly good ideas – a glider, an elevator, a parachute, a hot air balloon and a zip wire.

At first I thought it was impossible but now I really want to do it  again – Aiden, Port Charlotte Primary.

It was so much fun. My best bit was building the tower with marshmallows – Evie, Port Ellen

I loved getting to see the other school classes. I like working in a team. It was fun getting Rapunzel out of the tower – Callum, Bowmore Primary

 

Disaster!

Primary 4/5s from Port Ellen and Bowmore Primary Schools worked together to learn how engineering can be an important aspect of disaster relief.  They thought about earthquakes and hurricanes that can devastate communities and lead to situations where emergency aid is unable to reach those who need it and how essential structures like air control towers need to withstand the powers of nature.  Their first task was to design and build a mountain rescue stretcher to transport a patient (potato) to hospital; then all groups were given the same resources to build a tower which supported a tennis ball and withstood a hurricane!

I really enjoyed building with a time limit and enjoy building models that are real things but we make them mini – Millie, Port Ellen Primary

I loved it because we had to do challenges – James, Bowmore Primary

My class were all absolutely engaged in both activities.  There were lots of discussions, problem solving and pride – Miss Brown, Port Ellen Primary.

 

 

 

Let’s Roll!

Older students met for a session looking at the engineering process, focussed on testing and improving.  Groups of children from different schools built rollercoasters for marbles, trying to incorporate loop the loops and still catch the marble in a paper cup.  Continuing on a marble theme, they then had to work out ways to increase the time taken for a marble to run down an inclined plane from 2.7 seconds to 10 seconds.  It was fantastic to see the children from different schools work together, completely absorbed in solving the problem. Young STEM Ambassadors from Islay High School came along to help out on the day.

I enjoyed the session and learned a lot more about engineers – Neil, Port Charlotte Primary.

It was challenging because there were lots of different activities and we had a certain amount of time to do it in and we had to stick to the resources we had – Oliver, Keills. Primary

It was fun! – Elisa, Small Isles Primary.

I want to have another engineering day with all the schools again – Charlie, Port Ellen.

The activities were fun, engaging and appropriately challenging for the group.  The children were actively involved and clearly developing their problem solving skills – Mrs Baker, Keills Primary

This session was held in Islay High School.  Maggie Harrison and Maureen MacDonald are now in discussion with the Headteacher of the High School to look at delivering a similar workshop for S3 children.

 

Rescuing Humpty

National Science & Engineering week could not go by without involving out Pre-5 children.  They had to find ways of rescuing Humpty so that he didn’t crack his head open getting down from the wall.  Bubble wrap and cotton wool were turned into jackets and we also built a zip-wire and engineered baskets to help him get down from the wall safely!

 

Budget

Date Purchases Cost
22nd February 4 copies Rosie Revere Engineer (for cluster schools) £42.15
22nd February External Hard Drive £47.68
6th March Pack cardboard tubes £18.05
  Solder £1.90
  3x Giant Lolly sticks £5.88
  12xSellotape £9.95
  3 packs masking tape £10.77
  Card £4.99
  Giant straws £18.98
  Wooden beads £4.98
  KNEX Imagination Makers Age 5-10 £30.26
  2xKNEX Imagine Age 7+ £61.02
  The Boy who harnessed the Wind £11.89
  Bioengineering Projects £12.49
7th March 4XKNEX Renewable Energy (for cluster schools) £721.80
Total Expenses    
Remaining Money   £3280.99

Fairytale Engineering

P1/2/3 joined P1/2/3 from Bowmore Primary and P1-4 from Port Charlotte Primary for some engineering challenges based on the fairytale Rapunzel.  After a quick recap of the story, they used cocktail sticks and mini marshmallows to try and built the tallest tower that they could.  Then they had to design and build ways to help the Rapunzel to escape from the tall tower.  There were lots of ingenious designs – here is one of the ladders.

Let’s Roll Engineering

 

P6 worked in groups with P5s and P6s from the other primary schools to hone their engineering skills.  We talked about the range of engineers and the engineering process and how engineers continually have to assess their designs and improve on them.  The children were given the challenge of building a roller coaster and then a marble run.

Disaster Engineering

 

P4/5 got together with P4/5 from Bowmore Primary for some engineering challenges based on disasters.  The children learned about the range of different engineers and how their problem solving abilities really come in to their own is disaster situations.  First the children had to design a collapsible, portable stretcher to transport a patient (potato) to hospital.  They then learned about the hurricane which resulted in the air traffic control tower being destroyed and having to be quickly rebuilt to allow aircraft in with aid and other supplies.  They had to build a tower of at least 30cm which would support a tennis ball in a simulated hurricane.

Trip to the Musem

P1/2/3 had a fantastic trip to the Museum of Islay Life in Port Charlotte looking at how people lived 100 years ago.  Jenny Minto showed them the old box bed, an griddle that hung over the fire to make oatcakes and bannocks and all the things that would have been familiar sights in schools 100 years ago.  Everyone was fascinated by the old belt that teachers used to use! Thank you Jenny.