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.
Renewables Engineering Islay – February Diary
We’ve had a really busy few weeks ….
Wind Turbine Building
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.
Each Thursday for 6 weeks we go to Bowmore and we go in the swimming pool. P5/6/7 go to the pool and we go up and down the lanes and do different this like backstroke or front stroke. When we go in the pool we play a warm up game at the end we do some different things like the mushroom float or the pencil float. After we have done everything we get a 5 minute time play around in the water. After the 6 weeks, we have a swimming gala. We really enjoy getting to do swimming for PE.
This term P67 have been learning about renewables and how energy is produced from different sources. They went on a trip around the renewables projects on Islay and this inspired a group to enter the BP STEM Challenge by making and testing their own Hydro Energy device. Watch the video they made for their entry below.
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.
On Saturday 18th November I went to London as a finalist for the Tomorrows Engineer competition. In the competition there were 10 finalists from all around the UK. All the finalists had to meet up in the Science Museum to present their invention in front of 4 judges and the audience. We had professional posters made to show our inventions. My invention was the Scaredy Sheep, a device that would bark like a dog and is attached to the sheeps ear so when sheep get stuck on their backs they are scared into jumping up again.
When the finalists first arrived we went down into a room where the judges were and we got to talk to them and the host so we weren’t as scared to talk about our inventions in front of them. We also had to get head sets on so we could do a sound check. After the break we all went down and sat down. The first thing that happened was a balloon experiment and a bubble experiment. In the bubble experiment a lady got bubble mixture and big bubble stick. Another lady came out and got another bubble stick and each side of the room did a bubble competition. The balloon experiment was really cool because a lady put a balloon on fire and it made a REALLY loud bang.
Then the first finalists went up to present their ideas. Then we got a quick break to explore the museum. After about 15 minutes we had to go back and on my way in their was a robot called Oscar who walked into me. Oscar was a really cool robot because he speaks to you and hands out chocolates and lollipops. Finally we got into the room and sat down and then there was another quiz. Then it was lunch and after we got to have a quick demonstration on how the body digests food. It wasn’t a good sight at all!
After the disgusting demonstration I had to go up and present my idea. I was nervous but excited and was proud of explaining my invention. Then the judges came out and the host announced the winner, and the winning design was an excellent hover wheelchair. We all congratulated the winner and then we got to explore more of the museum. After a long day I went back to my hotel. I really enjoyed the competition and I would like to be an engineer when I grow up. While I was there I learnt that to complete something you have to stick with it and keep trying.
Wednesday 15th November was the Argyll and Bute swimming competition for qualifying for the nationals in Dunoon. From Islay and Jura Dolphins swimming club there was: Ross Thompson, David John Morris, Matthew Mcusker and me. The coaches were ; Karen Siddle and Allan Campbell my dad. It was my first swimming competition away from Islay and I loved it. Ross was a big help; he told me when to go up to the Marshall which is when you line up to get ready to go up to the blocks to dive off. My races was front crawl and back stroke. In my front crawl my previous personal best was 1:07.7 min but now my personal best is 47.35 sec. In my back stroke my previous personal best was 59.73 sec but now my personal best 55.34 sec. I had a great time, thanks to Karen and my dad for taking us!
In class we have been looking at engineering and we have been doing challenges in groups to help us feel like an engineer. For this challenge we were told that we had make a model and we were to be able to pick up an object from one metre away. First thing that we did in our groups was go off separately and make a design and label it so that we could see how it would work and what materials it needed to be made. When that was finished we got back in our groups and we decided what one that we would make. We went of and started to make our model and when we had to test it out and my group managed to pick up a water bottle from a metre away. Then when we had finished Mrs Clark decided who was the winner of this challenge and it was my group.
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.
In school this week the whole of the school is doing a topic called Tomorrows Engineers. In p1/2/3 they have been getting their parents in to help them make their models which were chairs. In p4/5 they have been making fabulous bridges some are small and some big. In p6/7 we have been making grabbers to pick up something.
Here is one of p6/7’s grabbers:
Here is one of p4/5’s bridges:
Here is one of p1/2/3’s chairs:
By Abi Logan
Primary 6&7 have been busy inventing. They have been creating design boards for the Young Imagineers competition run by Statoil. They had to come up with a great engineering idea that could solve a problem for the future, and lots of great ideas were generated; extra robotic arms and hands so you can get more done, high viz vests for cows, smart material kneepads that bounce you back when you fall in the playground, the Scooper for stopping ice cream dripping on your hands and lots more. 3 were chosen by the class to enter for the competition; Sarah’s Scaredy Sheep device stops sheep getting stuck on their backs by barking like a dog, Rebecca has designed a device that uses static electricity from clothes to repell rain from your glasses and Lauren has invented a device that knows when the inside of your car gets too hot and sends an alarm to your key. Good luck in the competition and great engineering!
On Friday 30th September an author came in to p6/7 called Barbra Henderson and she talked to us about her books and one of them was called Fir For Luck. She also talked to us about her newest book called Punch and it is not out in the real world yet but we are the first to hear it. We have heard the first chapter of it. She also choose some of us to act out some of the parts of the story. At the end she gave us all a bookmark and the choices were Punch or Fir For Luck. I loved acting out one of the parts in Fir For Luck. I learned that one of her books had 37,000 words. We also learned she has writen more that ten book but not all of them are published. We enjoyed the author coming in and we hope that another author comes in soon.
By Abi and Freya
On Tuesday the 19th of September P6/7s from Islay and Jura went to Oban for the fabulous Stramash trip. At first I didn’t feel too sure about going but as it got closer I felt more and more exited. We were on the ferry first and then the bus for 1 hour in order to get to the hostel. By the time we were in Oban we had already got told who was in our groups and who was in our rooms. After the chat we went into our groups and discussed what we were unsure about and what we were exited for. That night we had already been in our rooms so we went and played games at the lovely Ganovan beach and grass. We played fun games in our groups but by then I just wanted to go to bed.
The next morning I woke up to a shock when I found out we were doing canoeing in about an hour, I wasn’t really sure about canoeing so it just made it even worse when I found out I had to wear a wetsuit! At the end of canoeing I found it WAS really fun so it made me more confident about the rest of the week. That afternoon we were doing coasteering, another one I wasn’t to sure about! I thought it was just jumping off a rock into the sea but that was a small part of it. You had to climb rocks with barnacles on them then at the end you got to jump of the rock which was fun. That night we got to go swimming, the pool had a big slide in it so I went down it. My friend Taylor also belly flopped into the pool!
On Thursday morning my group was going gorge walking so I had to put on another wetsuit sadly. We got into the bus and drove to the gorge. Once I saw the currents I knew it would be fun so I had a go at going down on my back. I knew whatever I did I would be happy with but this one was even more fun than I thought, it was so deep at the waterfall I couldn’t touch the bottom. We carried on up the woods until it came to a dead end then we went to the hostel to have lunch. There was lots of different instructors for each activity. After lunch my group did an adventure walk to the woods then a castle. Some of my friends that went before me said it was rubbish but when we got to light a fire it got interesting because it took my friend Craig 32 tries with the Swedish fire stick to light a fire. We then drew a picture of what we could hear and see. We then set off to the castle. Once we got to the bottom of the hill at the castle the instructor said a story about a whale a guy and a girl attached to the whales heart. After that we got to the castle and saw an eagle. That excellent day we had a bonfire that night so we got to toast marshmallows on it.
The last day we only had one activity left that was rock climbing. Once we got to the amazing Ganovan beach and grass we walked to the rocks. I never knew how much equipment you needed to wear until he explained that it was so safe. The first rock we climbed was easy. I did it with Robbie from Keils then we moved on to the next rock! It was scary at first because it was big but when I started I was up there in seconds. We had the choice to abseil down but I didn’t but some people did.
Overall I achieved making friends, rock climbing, abseiling, gorge walking and coasteering. The one that I found most challenging was coasteering because of the wave splashing up on to you. I found gorge walking the funnest because you got to float down the gorge. I also found rock climbing boring because you had to wait but when it was your turn it was so fun. I was scared of jumping of rocks and swimming in the sea but when I finished coasteering I overcame my fear. Overall Stramash was brilliant and I did stuff I would of never thought I would of and I would certainly go back to Oban for Stramash.
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.