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
P1/2/3 enjoyed sharing their learning about solar power to visitors to our Community Open Afternoon.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
P1/2/3 had a wonderful trip to the Museum of Islay Life in Port Charlotte to find out what life was like 100 years ago. They were fascinated by the chamber pot and the fact that people had to go outside to the toilet! P1/2/3 have been learning about school long ago. They have discovered that there used to be many more schools in Islay and that teachers were much stricter! We saw the old teachers high desk and the wooden child’s desk at the museum together with the ink pots and slates that children would have used a century ago. This is part of island-wide history learning associated with the WW1 commemorations. We also found out about a schoolgirl from Port Ellen that gave an her account of what happened in the village following the sinking of the Tuscania. Old log books have given a poignant insight into that time. Thanks to Jenny Minto for a great visit.
On Thursday 25th January Jenni and Stuart from the Islay Museum came to Port Ellen Primary school to talk about WW100 on Islay. This is so we can get information about WW1 on Islay and what happened here during the war. They told us about the Tuscania, which was torpedoed by a submarine in 1918 and it sank off the coast of Islay, but some the survivors came ashore in lifeboats or were wrecked in the rocks and people on Islay helped to save them and also to bury the dead. Two brothers came down from their farm house and saved some people and gave them their home, and some poeple baked scones. It is amazing to think this all happened 100 years ago on February 5th. I am looking forward to finding out more about Islay at this time.
As part of our Transport topic, P1/2/3 wanted to find out all about cars, how they worked and what made cars go faster. So they wrote to Dugald McKerral and went on a trip to the garage. They saw a car up on the hydraulic ramp and could see the wheel axels and the chassis that they had learned about in class. Lots of interesting questions were asked and we are going back to class to find out more about pistons. This learning ties in really well with the Rolls-Royce Science Prize.
Islay is a beautiful island off the west coast of Scotland, and one of the reasons it is so lovely is because farmers work hard to keep the land the way it has looked for generations, conserving the environment. But the land has also influenced how and what types of farming happen on Islay. As an Island the costs of transport are also an important consideration, as is the weather. All these factors contribute to the difficulties and successes of farming beef, sheep and barley on Islay.
Farming on Islay is very important to Islay’s landscape and the farmers that work hard to get paid and have more than just one job but two! The farmers on Islay have kept the landscape as it was years ago. The farming on Islay gives jobs to many people so that they can make money and live their lives as the years pass by.
The main land types found on Islay are rough grazing, grassland, peat bog and moorland. Grassland is low lying and is used by farmers to grow grass for silage, grass to feed animals and can also be used to grow barley; this is the most useful land for farmers, but in the winter it gets very wet and muddy and can’t be used to keep animals on. Rough grazing land can’t be used to grow grass or crops, it tends to be hilly with plants like heather, rushes and patches of rough grass. Animals can graze it, although it is mostly used by sheep. Rough grazing is useful in the winter because it stays dry, drains well and you can overwinter animals on it. It can’t be used to grow vegetables or crops because it is stoney and the soil is poor. Peatbogs are of no use to farmers as animals can get stuck in the bogs and the grazing is too poor. Farmers on Islay often drain the land to keep it dry enough to grow grass. Because of the limits imposed by the type of land on Islay, the main farming is Beef and Sheep, with a little barley production.
Islay has a wonderful type of weather for grass which has mainly rain and wind with a tint of sunshine as there is hardly any snow or frost on the island. The normal temperatures varies as seasons pass as in the summer there is more sun and it is not as rainy as autumn or winter as in winter it is mainly rainy and windy but it is still sometimes sunny. The lowest average temperature on islay is 3’c. In autumn the weather is changing to winter and during that there is sometimes gale force winds and there is about 130mm of rain through the season. In summer the weather becomes less rainy and becomes more sunny.
Islay is an island than can only be reached from the mainland by ferry or plane. This means farmers have to pay to get their produce off the island and also pay extra to get the equipment and resources they need to farm on the island. As a result of this farmers on Islay struggle to compete financially with those on the mainland. For example, fertilizer and concentrates need to be brought over on container ships and unloaded onto lorries. This means fertilizer and concentrates cost more for Islay farmers. The type of farming that can happen here is also affected by transport; milk, soft fruits and other products will go off when transported for long periods of time so are not farmed on Islay. However, sheep and cattle are easy to transport over time, and the barley that is grown is sold locally. So farmers on the mainland have an advantage over famers on Islay.
As part of our transport topic, P1/2/3 wanted to find out about wheels. They found lots of tyres out in the garden and checked out wheels on cars in the car park and bikes in school. They found out that wheels are attached to axels and have written to Mr MacKerrell at the garage to see if they can find out more about how cars work.
Over the past year all the primary schools on Islay and Jura have been involved in an Island wide history project in conjunction with Islay Heritage and archaeologists from the University of Reading. The children have been learning about their history and heritage, as well as the many STEM skills required to be an archaeologist. The results of their learning are now on display in the Gaelic College, Ionad Chaluim Chille Ile, in the Islay and Jura School’s Heritage Exhibition.
The project started with a party from every primary school on Islay visiting the Giant’s Grave site, 90 children in all. This involved a lengthy walk from Nerabus up through the forestry to the site, where the archaeologists were excavating and surveying. The children were then able to experience the different fieldwork techniques, from geophysics to troweling to photography. They learned about life in the early Neolithic period, and discussed with the experts what the grave was for, how it might have looked and how the people at the time lived. They then returned to the classroom to continue the learning, carrying out many different tasks; timelines, brochures, reports, sways, story telling videos, den building, pot making, art and imaginative writing. Some of these can be seen on the Islay Heritage site, as well as at the exhibition.
Then in late March the archaeology team returned for phase 2 of the project, in which schools adopted their own local monument and carried out surveys. Children applied some of their previous learning on Geo-physics and photography, whilst also learning how to make scale drawings and documentaries. They then got to see the results of the survey transferred into 3D representations of the site. Bowmore surveyed Cill a’ Bhulig, the remains of an old chapel, Port Charlotte surveyed Carnduncan, a Bronze Age burial cairn, Port Ellen surveyed Kilbride Chapel and Small Isles and Keills surveyed a crannog at Loch nan Deala.
It has been a great learning experience for all involved and made us grasp just how much fascinating history we pass on Islay everyday without even realizing it. The process of revealing Islay’s past through the use of modern archaeological techniques has been a truly great experience, and the children have a far better understanding of their Island as a result. We would like to thank all those involved for providing us with the experience, including the Mactaggart fund for enabling the project to take place. We hope people will visit the exhibition over the next two weeks for a unique insight into Islay’s past.
Just before Christmas P4/5 were thrilled to get a visit from Miss Heads nephew Luke, who is a geologist. He answered lots of their questions about volcanoes and earthquakes. He was also very impressed by the children’s knowledge of the earth’s structure and plate tectonics.
To complete our IDL on earthquakes and volcanoes, P4/5 have learned about the pros and cons of living in areas of the world where there are volcanoes and earthquakes. They wrote a piece of persuasive writing to convince people that living in Iceland had lots of positive aspects and found out how engineers try to make buildings earthquake-proof. The children worked in co-operative groups to build earthquake-proof buildings and then we tested them using a huge tray of jelly to be the shaking ground!
On the 25th of August, Port Ellen Primary along with their teacher Mrs Clark, Mr Gairns, Mrs Logan and Struan’s dad Mr Colthart, went to a fascinating archaeological trip to the Giant’s Grave. We were going there because we really wanted to learn about Islay History. As we got onto the bus, I was filling up with excitement. We were in the bus for quite a while until we got to Nerabus. As we got off the bus, I couldn’t wait to start walking to the Giant’s Grave. Also, Professor Steven Mithin walked with us.
On the trip, we walked one hour and ten minutes to the Giant’s Grave. Before we got there, my friend Abi fell into a big stream and got soaking wet. When we were all set we started walking again. On the way, we saw loads of blood red and white mushrooms. They looked really interesting. Finally we got to the Giant’s Grave. I thought it looked amazing and very inspiring. It was as peaceful as the sun crawling up a hill. As we were strolling to the heart of the dig I gazed at the awesome rocks forming the Giant’s grave.
After we had our break, we got up and circled around the Grave. We listened to the archaeologists from Reading University explain about the Giant’s Grave and what they think it used to be six thousand years ago. After they told us about the Grave, we split up and got into partners to work with the archaeologists to help with the Grave. Rebecca and me went to Tom who told us that he worked in the muddiest corner to dig out the peaty mud that could be burying important artifacts. We got a shovel and started to dig the icky sticky mud.
When we were told to move we really enjoyed helping Tom with the mud and digging. When we moved over we went to a lady named Sarah who helped us take pictures of the site with her. We learned that it was a hard job getting the right angles when you take the pictures. We also took stalk photos when we creep up to the others and take pictures of them. Then, with a heavy heart, we went back to the others and sat in the gazebo. We listened to a Dendrochronologist speak about his job as a person who looks at tree rings on the trunk to see how old it is. I thought that was fascinating that you could calculate how old a tree is by looking at the lines.
After we had our lunch, we said goodbye to the people there and we left the Giant’s grave. I really enjoyed myself and I really hope that I could meet them again soon on a different dig. I thought that the dig was phenomenal and I really hope to go again.
By Kaya Middleton P7
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.
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 investigating the microclimate in the school grounds. They used digital thermometers on loan from the Royal Meteorological Society to record the temperatures at different places in the school grounds. It was a great way to consolidate all they had learned about maps as part of their orienteering. They then worked in the group to produce a scientific report complete with prediction, method, results, bar chart and explanation. A great piece of work!
After a week of science learning at Port Ellen we invited parents in to find out more about Rocks, Floods and Boats.
In P567 we have been doing geology this term, finding out about Islay’s interesting rocks and how they are formed. Parents got to make rocks out of food, saw a cake model of the earths crust, our map of Islay’s geology and identified different types of rock by testing them. They asked lots of interesting questions!
In P34 parents were presented with flood proof housing and has to test the houses to see if they worked!
In P123 they had to build waterproof boats that didn’t sink out of different materials and they also made paper.