On Thursday 21st March the whole of Port Ellen Primary School went down to the co-op beach for a beach clean. There was also people from high school to help, they where the John Muir group, and also ReJIG. Before everyone went we got put into groups of 5. There was 10 groups. I got paired with Chloe, Katy, Christopher and Phoenix. P67 had created a survey so we could find out what the different types of plastic were that we foundon the beach. There were lots of small bits of plastic between 2.5 and 50cm long, but the biggest plastic pollutant was ropes and nets from fishing boats. You can see the results in the graph below. We collected 2 bags full of rubbish, lots of it was plastic. Altogether the school got 900 bits of plastic rubbish off the shore. When we left all the beach had was sand and seaweed.
As part of our whole school project on marine litter, P1/2/3 are reaching out to other schools near the sea to find out if they find lots of plastic on their beaches too. Here is their digital book all about Islay. We hope that you enjoy watching it and see how lovely our island is. Please comment and let us know if you have what you can find on the beaches near your school. Thank you, P1/2/3
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.
As the end of our year-long project approaches there has been no slowing down here in Port Ellen….
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.
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 LoganAre 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!
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
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.
P1/2/3 have been learning about the benefits of solar energy – it’s renewable, free and good for the environment. They have been using their knowledge to design persuasive posters. This amazingly neat poster was made by Rachel in P1.
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!
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.
P4/5 and Kate Brown have been busy investigating wind power, moving from pinwheels to desk turbines and finally to designing floating wind turbines…perfect for an island location. This was a fun and busy time in the classroom. Children planned their models, thinking carefully about the design criteria and materials available. They then decided which of their ideas were best and worked in pairs or independently to build their models. They used their Engineering Habits of Mind to guide them and repeatedly tested, altered and improved their turbines as they went along. Testing was done in the rowing boat in the Nursery area as it was full of rainwater. Many models toppled over or sank but the best ideas are going to be improved further and entered into a competition. We’ll keep you posted….
Dearbhla reported My design was very hard to make because you had to get the exact measurements. We needed to work well in a team together.I think we need to understand where our power comes from and grown ups need to know that too.
Morgan said I enjoyed making my turbine because we got to make little models from the junk box and my model was big but it took quite a while to get the base done. The playdough on the base was not effective.
P6/7 and Jo Clark have been improving their engineering skills by building with the new KNEX we purchased. Working in groups and pairs, employing teamwork skills and applying engineering habits of mind, they have built wind turbines, water wheels, solar vehicles and paddle powered cars. P1/2/3 were given a demonstration and explanation of how they worked. Ellen said We made a wind turbine and it was made out of KNEX and when you spun the wheels one of the coils would turn into a smaller wheel and go into a generator. The generator was connected to a wire which then turned a roundabout. I loved doing that and I am going to ask my mum if I can get KNEX at home.
CPD Event for Teachers
As part of our commitment to extend our project out form our own school Maggie Harrison and Maureen MacDonald have been in discussions with Headteachers from the other cluster primary schools to organize some shared engineering challenges. Maggie is part of the SSERC Primary Cluster Programme and is one of three mentors on Islay and Jura who have organized a series of CPD events for teachers to improve confidence in STEM teaching. It has provided the perfect opportunity to include some further CPD linked to our Rolls-Royce project so she shared a SSERC presentation on Engineering Thinking to cluster colleagues. Great fun was had by all. Comments from colleagues included Excellent, engaging and great fun. Easy to apply ideas. Team Port Ellen won the best designed chair for Baby Bear!
Offsetting our Carbon Footprint
P6/7 with Jo Clark have been finding out about ways to offset our carbon footprint and improve the environment. They discovered a search engine called Ecosia which uses revenue from it’s search ads to plant trees. It is a social business who believe that trees have the power to make the world a better place for everyone. Their mission is to plant one billion new trees by 2020…so far they have planted over 20 million! Did you know that every time you search the internet you produce CO2 emissions? We have put Ecosia on all the school computers and ipads so that we can research in a more environmentally friendly way and we hope all readers of this blog will use Ecosia too!
Saving Polar Bears
In P1/2/3 with Maggie Harrison, the children have been very concerned about the plight of polar bears as the ice is melting due to global warming. We have had some very interesting discussions and the children have decided that they would like to adopt a polar bear. They are on a mission to sell ‘Popcorn for Polar Bears.’ It was Katie’s idea; I think saving polar bears important because they will all die if they can’t get food and the babies can’t swim so far if the ice melts.
Large Scale Engineering in Pre-School
Children in nursery have been using some Quadro to design and build some large scale structures during Joint Sessions with P1/2; first a tent for teddy complete with tarpaulin that had to be tested to check that it was waterproof; then a hide to watch birds for the Great Schools Birdwatch. One of our dads, who works for the RSPB, was on hand for a bit of expert advice! Alison Logan is now involving the children in decision making about the sorts of building materials they would like us to buy to develop their skills further.
We have not had any outgoings this month and have £4369 remaining in our budget.
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….
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.
Panto fever has hit Port Ellen as we have been preparing for our whole school pantomime which takes place every two years. We have also been organising the Christmas Fair, our main fundraiser, and P1/2/3 are preparing for their Nativity. Meanwhile, our Rolls-Royce journey continues….
Statoil Young Imagineers Finalist
As a result of our engineering project, we had a finalist in the national Young Imagineers competition run by Statoil. Sarah, from P6/7, invented a device that would save sheep stuck on their backs by making a scary sound and getting them to turn over. Her device was made into a prototype and she had to present it at the final in London at the Science Museum. Everyone is very proud of her achievement. Sarah says she is much more confident now about talking about engineering after presenting in front of a large audience, and she is inspired to take up engineering when she grows up.
Switch Off Fortnight
Continuing their learning about energy in Term1, Kate Brown’s class (P4/5) decided to try and encourage everyone to use less energy in school and at home. The children were quite shocked at how much electricity an electric shower uses and from looking at energy use they decided to make others understand this and think about saving energy, electricity in particular. So they joined the National “Switch Off Fortnight” and made information posters for the local community and home. This campaign was so successful that this week they are keen to spend part of the Christmas Disco without lights and use alternative sources instead…..glow sticks are at the ready!
This month Primary 6/7 have been working hard on researching renewable and non renewable sources of energy with Jo Clark. They wanted to know what energy sources are used in Scotland and the implications for the environment. Using One note they researched online and then used the notes to create posters, blogs and Sways. They debated in class the various types of energy source and chose the ones they thought were best, and wrote a discursive essay on renewable energy. In maths they looked at data produced by the Scottish Government on Energy use in Scotland and then analysed, interpreted and drew conclusions from it as part of a holistic assessment. Finally, they came up with pledges of what they could do themselves to reduce energy consumption.
Meanwhile, in P4/5 with Kate Brown, the children have been learning about wind power as there is a tall wind turbine outside the village. The children know that wind is sustainable and they made their own pinwheels to record the wind direction/wind strength associated with the speed of the wheel which led to discussions about what happens to wind turbines when there is no wind, and how strong winds here in Islay can be used to generate electricity. They then worked in groups to complete the Wind Turbine Challenge from the STEM website. The aim was to create a fair test to try to make a turbine that could raise a cup from the floor using a hairdryer. Charlet said, “Our group all had roles and Rhuraidh was the engineer. He designed a turbine but the rest of us felt there was not enough detail to make the model and so Caitidh, our artist, added more. Then we used card for the blades and a pencil for the shaft. At first we taped the shaft to the desk but it wouldn’t go round so we fixed that problem by putting card over the pencil loosely so it could turn. Sadly, our Turbine only lifted the cup a little bit but did manage when we gave it a bit of a hand. Next time we would change the size and shape of the blades and also use stronger wind power”
Next term George Dean will be helping us to organise visits to the Islay wind turbine and other sites that generate or use renewable energy on Islay.
Learning how Energy impacts on the Environment
In P1/2/3 Maggie Harrison has been using a story called Who will Save Us? to introduce the concept of global warming. All the children have been really engaged with learning all about the Antarctic and the penguins who live there and then how global warming might cause the ice to melt and affect not only penguins but other animals and people in different parts of the world too. Iona made this fantastic poster and she said that she ‘didn’t like the bad gas getting stuck in the earth’s blanket and that we should save the penguins and polar bears!’
Engineering in Pre-School
Joint sessions of structured play have started with the nursery and P1/2 – these will continue on a weekly basis from now until the end of the session. Maggie Harrison and Alison Logan are working together to plan how to incorporate the development of engineering thinking into these, although with new giant wooden blocks and the KNEX purchased the children are building some amazing structures.
Maureen MacDonald and Maggie Harrison have had meetings with Headteachers from the other primary schools in Islay and Jura to see how they can be involved in our Rolls-Royce project next term. Following the school being awarded a Digital Schools Award, the first school in Argyll & Bute to do so, Jo Clark was also interviewed with regards to a national website wanting to develop engineering skills across schools in the UK for the 2018 Year of Engineering.
We are very happy to have had our Green Flag renewed again. Here is what the report said –
Congratulations to everyone in Port Ellen for a great whole-school effort in renewing the school’s Green Flag status. I thought your photographs showcased well all the great environmental work going on in school and it was clear that everyone had been working hard to reduce waste, encourage healthy lifestyle choices and re-develop your grounds as a marvellous resource for learning and recreation and a haven for wildlife. In so doing, you have monitored progress well, shared your successes with the wider community via your blogs and Twitter feed, and worked collaboratively with helpful partners such as Rejig, the RSPB, the Community Garden and your local plant supplier and boat builder. Eco is well- integrated into the curriculum and calendar via classwork such as your Water Cycle topic and events like your Waste and Walk to School Weeks, and you have enjoyed well-deserved success in the STEM Challenge, the Junior Saltire Award and the Pocket Picnic Garden Competition. Finally, you are to be warmly commended for your beach cleaning activities, your promotion of Fairtrade in school and your generous support of worthwhile charities such as Water Aid. Your young people are truly responsible, global citizens and I am sure you will enjoy exploring the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals as part of your ongoing Eco focus.
Port Ellen Primary School have just got some colourful, outdoor drums for our playground. The drums have been put in beside our stage which has just been done up. They look good together as they are both bright and beautiful. Ellen and Morgan think they are loud, popular and FUN! There are five sizes of drums and they all make different sounds. All the pupils and staff are very happy with them.
The school got a grant of £500 from the Fourteen Fund and the same from Diageo. The drums cost £1600 so the rest of the money came from the Parent Council. The school paid for the stage to be fixed. The pupils and staff would like to say a huge “Thank You” to everyone who helped to make it possible.
The drums are a great addition to the playground and the pupils think they are amazing.
Aiden Munro (P4) said “The drums are really good to play with because they make different sounds”. Mrs Campbell (Treasurer from the Parent Council) said “The drums look and sound fantastic”.
Last week Joe, Bronagh, Kaya and Murray traveled with Mrs Clark and Mrs Leask to Glasgow and Edinburgh to take part in the Celebration of Science and Engineering run by @scdiYESC at the Glasgow Science Centre. They were finalists in the Junior Saltire Awards with their Wave Islay design, made with help from Bronagh’s dad Gus, an excellent boat builder. They tested their devices at the Flowave facility in Edinburgh along with 6 other primary schools and 5 secondary schools, before attending the event and presenting to the judges. They also took part in STEM challenges as a team, with around 40 other schools, where they had to correct a listing oil rig, calculate pH for crops, stabilize a bridge, build a train and identify oil products. When we got to the awards ceremony the Imax cinema was full. We were shocked and amazed when Heather the weather announced the winners of the primary STEM challenges as Port Ellen Primary School! We got a great trophy and went and sat back down, only to discover we had also won the Primary Junior Saltire Awards! What a day! Above is a video of our Junior Saltire Journey.
On Thursday 2nd June Mirren and Rebecca traveled to Edinburgh to set up their Picnic Pocket Pallet Garden. When they arrived, they set up their garden for the next morning when the show would be held. The Garden Show was held in Ingliston. They next morning Mirren and Rebecca and their families went to the show. There were lots of really good gardens from other sections and the section Mirren and Rebecca’s garden was in. They looked around all of the gardens and then they went back to theirs because a politician came to look at our garden and asked us questions about it. Then we got our picture taken by a photographer. After that we all went to look at other gardens and got ice-cream before we traveled back down the road to the ferry.
A few weeks ago p5/6/7 worked on designs for a wave power device for the Junior Saltire Awards, which is a national competition for school children to design and make their own devices to promote the use of renewable energy. The group that built the device was called Wave Islay, and included Bronagh, Joe, Murray, Kaya, Abi and Ellie. We researched renewable and non renewable energy and learned about wave powered devices. Bronagh’s dad came in to help us build our device. When it was finished we went to test it in the sea and it worked. We had to fill in some papers to send away. Later on we found out that our device was in the finals. Now we are working on improvements to make it better! Bronagh, Joe, Murray and Kaya get to go to Edinburgh for the awards on the 9th June, where we will test our device in the Flo Wave facility at Edinburgh University. It is all very exciting!
P3/4 have been learning about parts of a plant and what each part does. They have also learned about photosynthesis – the process where plants make energy for carbon dioxide and water using energy from the sun and chlorophyll in leaves. They used a new app on the ipads called Explain Everything to show what they had learned.
P3/4 are now officially plant scientists. Along with lots of other schools from across the country we are taking part in a scientific experiment to find out about the effect of space on plant growth. We were given two packets of seeds from the Royal Horticultural Society – one normal rocket seeds and the other a packet that have been to the International Space Station with Tim Peake. We have learned all about fair testing and randomisation and the seeds are now sitting waiting to grow. We will keep you posted of progress and our results!
On Monday 25th April P3/4 went to see the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust boat. It is called the Silurian.
The Silurian was fancy. It had ten beds, a toilet, a shower and a galley. On deck there was a huge steering wheel and dials. A digital map was on top of the steering wheel. There was a thing that tells you how much knots the wind is going. The boat is 20m long, double the size of my dad’s boat because my dad’s is only 10m.
I learned about whales and dolphins. The biggest whale in Scotland is the minke whale and the smallest is the porpoise.
On Monday we went to visit the Silurian. It was awesome. There were ten beds. We had to search for things up on top of the deck and down below the deck. They had toilets and showers on the boat.
Then we did learning about whales and dolphins where we listened to the sounds they made under the water. I learned that sperm whales have 40 teeth in their mouth and they go deep down into the sea and use clicks to see their prey.
On Monday 25th April we went down to the pontoons at the pier to see the Silurian which is the boat of the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust. We had to put on life jackets.
The Silurian was a yacht. It was very nice and fancy. First we investigated the boat. We found out that the boat had ten beds, a galley, a bathroom, a dining room, a crows nest, a steering wheel, two masts and sails. The front of the boat is the bow and the back is the stern.
I learned about basking sharks. I also learned about the sounds of dolphins and whales and that people listen for the sounds underwater using a hydrophone.
For National Science and Engineering Week P3/4 were trying to Beat the Flood. This was a challenge set by Practical Action to try and design and build a floodproof house that could stand up to flooding and monsoon rains. The design also had to be sustainable, use materials available on a small Pacific Island and be cheap to build. This innovative design has a water catcher and grows food on the roof so that people can still eat if the land around has been flooded.
Last week the Eco group decided to do a waste week and try to find out how much packaging gets wasted at lunchtime in school.
We collected it for only three days. There was quite a lot and I don’t think that it was very good. I think we should do the waste week again because on Tuesday 15th we collected 650 grams and to me that is very wasteful. On Wednesday it got a little better and then on Thursday it was the same as Monday, terrible. Hopefully we might be able to do it again and try to improve and have less packaging that gets wasted.