Category Archives: ELCC

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.

 

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.

February Diary

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.

KNEX Renewables

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.

Teddy in the Park STEM

  

Following a SSERC CPD on Teddy in the Park P1/2 and the ELCC have used this as a focus for Joint Sessions.  Children have had a great experience investigating waterproofing, building tents and rucksacks for teddy all linked to a story about a teddy.

RSPB Visitor

During a recent joint session with P1/2 and Pre-5 children we were delighted to welcome David Wood in to talk to the children.  This coincided with Springwatch and we all watched part of the programme showing the golden eagles on Islay.  The children were shown the model of the eagle to demonstrate the wingspan and then  some of the Primary 1 children made their own scaled eagle.

David then helped the children to build a hide in preparation for taking part in the Big School Birdwatch.

November Diary

 

Renewables Engineering Islay – November Diary

 

Mentor Visit

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.

After-School Clubs

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.

 

Our visit to Islay Airport

IMG_2491 IMG_2376 IMG_2394This term we have been learning about journeys and holidays so as one of our our end of term outings we visited Islay Airport.   We climbed the tower, put our bags through security, went through security ourselves, we even got to sit in the fire engines and spray water from the hoses. The highlight of our trip was sitting in Mr Sandy MacTaggart’s plane and talking to Pat the pilot.  We had a great time with all our children and their parents.

World Orienteering Day

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We had a fantastic afternoon on Wednesday 11th May, World Orienteering Day.  There were courses available at all levels, from picture courses for nursery children, adding up sums courses for infants right up to tricky courses for our P5-7 orienteering experts. It was great to have such a good turn out of parents, who were very game taking part. Parents also had an opportunity to try out our i-orienteering course using our new ipads and it gave them a taster of what we hope to develop further around the village.

Bird Facts with the Nursery by the Eco Group

DSCN2116The nursery are doing a topic on birds and they have a bag of bird seed that will last a whole year.

Also they made bird food balls and this is how you make them you get: bird seed, bread crumbs, bread crusts and water. The crows try to steal the food but they can’t because the birdhouse that they made it too small for the crows to fit in.  They have also bought new bird feeders.

At Joint Sessions with P1/2 David Wood from the RSPB has been working with the children and he came into the school to tell them about birds and went bird watching around the school grounds with the children.

Since the weather  has been horrible they weren’t as many as they had hoped. They saw lots of geese in the field and lots of Black Hoods Crows.

Learning about recycling

At the Pre-5 and P1/2 joint session the children were learning about recycling.  They sorted materials and decided which could be recycled.  They looked for the triangular recycling marks on the plastics and discovered lots of different numbers – because there are lots of different types of plastics.  These can all go in our pink recycling bags at home!