Rolls-Royce Award Eden Prize Winners!

Last year Port Ellen was taking part in the Rolls-Royce Science prize through their renewables engineering project.  They were chosen as one of 6 finalists from over 2000 entries.  This week our teachers and George Dean, who works for the Islay Energy Trust,  were away for the Rolls-Royce science prize award ceremony in London.

First they went to Derby on Tuesday 6th November and went to the Rolls-Royce factory and at the factory they saw airplane  engines getting built and some that were finished.  They found it interesting learning about the engines and during the process they had to wear safety gear.   Later they went to London to go to the award ceremony, which was held in the Science Museum. They got ot talk to lots of important people about their project and have some nice food.  They won the Eden award for the best environment project, which was really great!  The awards were shown online, and you can watch them here.

Rolls-Royce Look Back


This year Port Ellen Primary School have been in the finals of the Rolls-Royce science prize and we have had the BBC in to film us with all of our engineering that we have done over the past year.  We also have a mentor called Neil Chattle and he has helped us all through the year.

Four people from this school went to the Celebration of science in Glasgow with their wind turbine and did very well.  We also had a finalist in the younf Imagineers comptition and took part in the BP Stem Challenge.  We have learned lots about renewables and engineering and are know much better at engineering.  It has been a very successful project and I now want to be a civil engineer.



Building Together


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

Celebration of Engineering Event

On the 31st of May 2018 we had an  engineering fair. We were showing other people our learning about engineering. We had made sections about things such as engineering new things out of Lego and K’nex and we had sections for global warming.

There were also things to do with the STEM club. There was a simulation of the great pacific garbage patch. We were shown a video about a large net pulled by a boat that went to the great pacific garbage patch to collect as much garbage as possible. Some of us went to try and make something to collect as much of the stuff inside the simulation of the great pacific garbage patch as possible. One of the designs was a bunch of pipe cleaners with beads on them on the handles which would make it float. Then it would be pulled along to collect as much rubbish on the surface as possible.

In the hall there was a save the polar bears desk where two people were sitting at the desk, getting donations so they could save polar bears. There were lots of posters explaining how polar bears are endangered and how they could be saved. Just down from the polar bear desk there was the engineering endeavour table. There were four people. The first person was doing mechanical engineering, the second person was doing coding engineering the third person was doing electrical engineering and the fourth person was doing biomedical engineering.

It was a great day and lots of people from the community came and it was even filmed for BBC Alba.

P1/2/3 Renewables Trip


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


May Diary

Renewables Engineering Islay – May Diary


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


Mentor Visit

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


Learning about Solar Energy

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


The Boy who Harnessed the Wind

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


Gael Force Test Run

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


Climate Change

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


We are Engineers

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


Upcoming Events

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



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

Solar Ovens


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

African huts….using solar power

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

How strong are eggs?


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


Climate Change

Climate change is getting worse and worse every day because of us. Climate change is when lots of carbon emissions are released into the atmosphere which creates a lair of greenhouse gas which then traps heat in the earth causing global warming, which destroys habitats and can create tornados, tsunamis and hurricanes. This is also caused by surprisingly cows because of there farting and burping , this happens because the methane they let out.

The energy we use is also having an impact on the earth because of all the carbon emissions we use to run our homes,cars and electronics. We could change this by using renewables such as wind, solar and hydro power. We are destroying the Arctic so Polar bears and penguins won’t have habitats. So I feel that everyone needs to start using renewable energies.

You can see how global warming is happening using this climate spiral animation:

By Aidan and Jack

Gael Force Wind Turbine

this is us building the floating wind turbine

As part of the Knots to Wats competitoin. Dearbhla’s dad Mr Newman and Morgan’s dad Mr Mcfarlane came into help us make our floating wind turbine. There was a rule book we had to follow it. for example, it must float in water, the connecting wires have to be 1.5m long attatched water level. It was hard work but we were very pleased it worked.

Dearbhla and Caitidh





All about life in Tanzania

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

Building jet engines


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

Egg Engineering

This term we where doing Egg Engineering. We made parachutes and cars. We tested the cars the day after we made them in teams with other classes. Our class made parachutes for our eggs. Nearly all of our eggs lived, only 3 cracked. The egg cars were a success!Four cars passed the finish line on the day. Some of the cars went through the tunnel and some did not because they were too big.

Phoenix and Robyn

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.


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

Parachutes in P1/2/3

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

Port Ellen Egg Science!

This week the whole of Port Ellen Primary school have been testing Newtons 3 laws of motion with eggs!

The rules work as you have to protect your egg from breaking using resources provided, you have to make 2 things to hold your egg but 1 has to have a parachute and 1 doesn’t and there is prizes for the lightest, the egg that is least damaged and the one that looked the nicest.

We dropped the eggs from a height (The top of our stairs.) Then it will go at a high speed then splat on the floor. This is Newtons first law, The law of Inertia a object (The egg) will stay in motion still unless it is acted upon, the act is the floor the thing thats going to stop the egg so the egg falls down then hits the ground.

Newtons second law F=MA which stands for force= mass acceleration, This one was the most important this was to slow down your craft before hitting the ground using… Parachutes! For the parachutes there is only a few things 1. the bigger the better, 2. don’t make it to big it gets stuck on the stairs and 3. make it out of something light not like card so we used bin bags!

Newtons 3rd law for every action there is a opposite reaction. The egg is falling then it hits the ground the action the reaction the egg goes splat.

The eggs experiment was a great way to test Newtons laws of motion. It wasn’t just a way of testing Newtons laws but every body loved creating there own special device to keep the egg safe it was like a baby and you can’t drop the baby unless you are 5 metres high and it has a parachute.


Computer Engineering Endeavour

A computer engineer is someone who writes codes/debugs a computer. Debugging is the process of identifying and removing errors from computer hardware or software. The code in the computer is a language which the computer understands and will follow the commands given. The computer needs commands to have the ability to do anything. If the computer didnt have commands, you wouldn’t even be able to switch it on.

For my Endeavour I am making a webpage from scratch. To do this, I dont have everything setup for me like a webpage creator online. To do it first you open notepad, then save it as something like your name, but after you’ve written your name, type .html, then open the file. You will have to write code into the notepad to make it appear in the webpage. However, If you want to write code in it, just research it. My webpage isnt currently online, but I am still working on it.

An electronic engineer would be the person who make the computer itself but a computer engineer is the one who makes everything on the computer work. If you press the window button, search cmd, then right click it, and select open as administrator, you can change some of the computer settings. It is possible to break the computer through the command window however, so be careful on what you type in. Its better to research all the possibilities of it so you know what things you can do and what they do.

What I think I am learning from my endeavour will help me be a computer engineer in the future. I could also be a webpage creator or a games designer.

Mechanical Engineering Endeavour

This year I chose to do mechanical engineering for my endeavour project. A mechanical engineer is someone who works on cars or lots of other stuff  like working with gears and more. I chose mechanical engineering because I love cars and I play a lot of Forza which is a car game. After this endeavor I hope to have achieved a lot so that can help me in the future to maybe a mechanic. I would also like to be a mechanic when I’m older as I think it would be a good job for me.

For my endeavor I’m gonna make a Haynes model engine and a sway about all the different kinds of engine. I have also made a quiz that you have to label the parts of the car engine of a Chevrolet Camaro Zl1.



Electrical Engineering Endeavour Project

My Endeavor project is about electronics. I have created a circuit with a soldering iron for a model for my endeavor to show off at the endeavor fair.  What a soldering iron does is the tip gets really hot and you get some soldering wire and you put it at the tip and then put under the circuit board where you put your resister or a light anything that’s supposed to be with that will work with the circuit board and solder in the parts.   So one day I thought about building a robot that can move i hope i can do this with spare.  I didn’t know how I was going to to it or I could just make some circuits and I’ve made two so far  and now I can make a lot of circuits if I don’t burn myself from the soldering iron.



This afternoon  our school will be building wind powered vehicles ready for a great egg race with parents tomorrow.  We will be put into teams (which will include all of the classes).  Once the teams are picked we have to design a vehicle that will transport our egg with out the egg breaking. We will be using a hair dryer to blow our vehicle so that it will move. There will be points for: Lightest design, prettiest design, vehicle that goes the furthest and whose egg gets least damaged.There will also be points getting taken off. Points will be taken off for: Wasting materials and damage to egg.  We are doing the egg race to help us with our engeneering skills and it is also part of Rolls Royce Science Prize. We are doing a lot of engineering activities because engeneering can help the world with climate change. The engeneering activities are a lot of fun because it  challenges us. I think that engeneering is very helpful to be doing in school because it uses math and science and it is also helpful because it tests us with our team working skills. I would like to do engineering challenges again.

Scottish Math Challenge Success

The Scottish Math Challenge is something that P6/7 have the chance to do every year.   You get a set of three questions one in November, one in December and the final one in January. If you get up to 29 points that is a bronze 30 points that is a silver and if you get 33 points that is a gold. I got 32 points and that means that I got a silver which means that I get to go away to get an award and I was really pleased to get this and I want to keep on pushing myself further in STEM. Everyone else who took part in our class got a bronze.  It is really important to know how to do some equations because it could help in a well paid job like being an engineer.

By Matthew Campell

Egg Drop ‘Egg’speriment

In class we have been learning about Newtons 3 laws of motion. The first one is the law of inertia. That law means that an object will stay in motion in till a force is acted upon it. The second law is Force=Mass x Acceleration. The third law is every action has an equal and opposite reaction.                                                                                           We have been looking at how strong an egg is. We did a an ‘egg’ speriment in class on how much an egg shell can hold. The egg shells cracked after 6kg and I was very surprised on how much it did hold. We also watched a short clip on how much at least 100 eggs can hold and it held 2 cars, and the were not boiled eggs. So eggs are stronger that you think.                                                                                                        In class we have also been wanting to do an egg drop. So in groups we designed two ideas, one with a parachute and one without one. Then we decided on who’s idea we were going to do. Then we started building. Me an Donald made the idea without the parachute. Our idea was that we were going to have a cup that the egg was going to be in then four balloons around it to keep it floating But there was a problem. When we checked to see if it would float and it kept on tipping to the side so we had to find a solution. Then we thought of an arrow and at the end of an arrow there is something to keep it keep flying straight so we decided that we were going to make them and put them on our balloons and it would look like an arrow and when we tested it out with the egg in it and when it dropped to the ground the egg had no crack and was safe.I was so glad that our idea worked.  Our second idea was with the parachute. Ellen and Abi made this one. The idea was that they made a pyramid to put the egg in and then the put pieces of straws around it so that when it dropped it wouldn’t put force on the pyramid with the egg in it it would put the force on the straws around it. Then they attached the parachute. When they tested it out with the egg in it there was no crack so both of our ideas worked and my group got 1st place.


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