Curious about Cars

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.

Boat Building

As part of our Transport topic, P1/2/3 have been learning about boats, what makes them float and then designing and building their own.  We have also learned that engineers design boats and more about the design process – tying in well with our Rolls-Royce Science Prize project for the year.

Port Ellen Primary P6/7 Engineering

P6/7 are learning about engineering. We have drawn and annotated a picture of a engineer and discussed what and engineer is. We have found out different types of engineers there are (electrical, biotechnology, chemical engineers, etc.)  We have watched a video of a engineer and videos on what an engineer is. We have done research about a type of engineer and we wrote the facts down on a piece of paper.

We have found out that you need to be good at linear algebra to be a computer engineer. We also found out that that coding engineers work with a lot of other types of coding engineers, such as programmers.  We can’t wait to do some of our own engineering.  Watch the video on engineering below…


Investigating wheels


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.

What is an Engineer?

P1/2/3 have been wondering about engineering and what engineers do?  Evie (P1) thinks that engineers ‘fix cars’ and are ‘always men but sometimes ladies’ while Iona in P2 thinks engineers can be ‘boys and girls’ and that engineers make boats.

We asked these questions as part of a baseline assessment for the Rolls-Royce Science Prize. We will be asking children to revisit these ideas at the end of the project and see how their views have changed.

Rolls-Royce Science Prize- Find out more!

We are pleased and proud to announce Port Ellen is one of 6 finalists in the Rolls-Royce Science Prize 2017-18!  We are going to be carrying out a year long project on engineering and renewables.  Read more about the prize taken from the Rolls-Royce Website below:

About the prize

The Rolls-Royce Science Prize is an annual awards programme that helps teachers implement science teaching ideas in their schools and colleges. The Prize recognises and rewards excellence in Science teaching across the full spectrum of teaching, from special education needs to high ability pupils. It also promotes innovative and sustainable strategies for teaching science which addresses a specific need in the schools or colleges and at the same time contributes to teachers’ continuing professional development.

Scottish Education STEM award winners!

On Wednesday 8th June, two members of staff and three pupils from Port Ellen Primary flew to Glasgow to attend the Scottish Education Awards. The school had got through to the finals of the Science, Technologies, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Award along with another primary school and a high school. Assessors visited the school back in March to see STEM activities in class, speak to children about their experience of STEM learning and talk to staff about the development of STEM in Port Ellen.

Charlet Rose Munro, Rowan Morris and Natalie Logan were very excited to attend such a large event………and we were all even more surprised to be announced winners! The award was sponsored by BAE systems and the presenter told the girls that he was very happy to see girls being so keen on science and engineering and that he hoped he might see some of them working for the company in the future. It is predicted that the UK will have a huge shortage of scientists and engineers in the near future.

This award reflects a high level of commitment to STEM learning throughout the school, from Pre-5 to P7. We all feel that encouraging children to be curious about the world around them leads to high levels of engagement in learning and that STEM subjects promote creativity, problem solving, co-operation, resilience and reflection. The school was recognized as having ‘an adaptable and resourceful teaching team who makes best use of the local environment and technology……..and that by engaging in partnerships, the school supports and extends the development of skills for life, learning and work.’ We are all very chuffed to have achieved this recognition.


    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.


Islay Heritage

   On Thursday 23rd March primary 5/6/7 walked to the ruins of Kilbride Chapel in order to survey it as part of the Islay Heritage Schools Project. For this project all the schools on Islay visited the Giant’s Grave earlier in the year and then worked with Reading University to choose a monument close to their school which they would then adopt and survey to find out more about it.  Port Ellen’s site was Kilbride chapel and they surveyed the site using geophysics, archaeology photography, scale drawing and by making a documentary.

Rob showed us how to do the geophysics; there was machine and that went into the ground with electricity to see if they could find anything else about the land around the Chapel. The geophysics worked by sending an electrical current through the ground and if there was a higher reading then there was a rock under the ground this is because it takes more energy to get through the rock. If there was a lower reading that means that there would of been water because it didn’t use lots of energy to get through it. To use the geophysics you would stick both spikes into the ground and wait for a beep then move onto the next spot a certain distance away. We were all glad that people from the University Of Reading to come over and help us as they were very interesting and taught us lots.  The data we gathered from the geophysics will actually be used in the final report on the site which is very exciting.

We were also doing archaeology photography with Alex. Before you take the picture you have to remember two things. The first thing to remember is you need to put the measuring stick onto where you are taking a picture of so you have a scale to know how big the things in the photo are, and you have to remember to use the right size measuring stick. The other thing to remember is to put a chalkboard with the sites name, where it is, what it is and what direction it is taken from. You also need to put a north arrow pointing to north. You have to fill in a register after taking a picture. You have to write the site name and the description from the chalkboard, what direction it was from and lots more. This is so that people in the future know what it was about. The site name was KIL17 for Kilbride chapel in 2017.  We enjoyed taking accurate photos.

We were also did photography and filming and you had to put up a big 5m pole to sit the camera on and you have to make sure that the camera is screwed on properly so it won’t fall off. The archaeologists helped us with all of this. We also made a documentary and it was about what we were doing at Kilbride Chapel and we had to use a radio microphone to record. Showing us how to do things properly is one of the reasons Islay Heritage is so good.

The last activity we did was making an accurate scale drawing of the chapel with Darko. We did this by measuring all the sides and scaling it down properly on graph paper with a scale of 1:50. The picture looked really cool and showed us what the chapel looks like-it had really thick walls and was a lot smaller than we thought it would be.  We checked our drawing was correct using a GPS positioning pole.  We learned lots of new skills and at the end we got to see the results of the geophysics in school and it showed that there might have been an enclosure around the chapel and we were the people who found out that evidence which was very exciting!  We then drew pictures of what we thought it might have been like in the past before it fell down.

We want to say thank you to Islay Heritage because they have helped us with all our archaeological digs and surveys by showing us what you need to know to be an archaeologist .  We have also found out lots more about our local heritage and know that Islay is an amazing place with lots of history waiting to be discovered.  Without them none of this learning would have been possible and they have helped us know more about where we live and what it used to be like. We appreciate all the help we get from Islay Heritage. THANK YOU ISLAY HERITAGE!

By Kaitlyn and Rowan

Trip To Lighthouse Glasgow for Awards

On the 22nd March 2017 two pupils from Port Ellen Primary School went to the Lighthouse in Glasgow to receive  their reward for the My place photography competition run by the Scottish Civic Trust. Those two boys were Matthew Campbell, overall winner in the primary category, and Ruaraidh Macdonald, runnner up. Ruaraidh  and Matthew got two canvases, one for the school and one for their family and Matthew also got a camera for himself and for the school.  The two of them went up to the front one by one to accept their awards.   After the ceremony Matthew had to stay for more photos with the rest of the winners from the My Place Awards and My Place Photography Competition. They both enjoyed the day and were really proud to have done so well in a national competition.  To read more go to

by Ruaraidh and Matthew

Space Ambassador Visits P4/5


P4/5 had a special visitor on Friday as part of National Science Week – Laura. Thomas, a Space Ambassador from the European Space Program.  This was a follow up to the work they had done with the rocket seeds last year as part of the Tim Peake Project.  She talked to the children about the materials needed for spacecraft to withstand the conditions in space.  The children tested different materials – checking them for temperature, electrical conductivity, bounce, weight and strength.  She also answered lots of questions from the children on space and gravity and got to see them test their lunar modules.  It was a great learning experience and fun was had by all.


This week, everyone in the school participated in this years Science week. P1/2/3 also took part in this years Science Week. They learned about different forces and they did some experiments to demonstrate how  forces work.

First they visited the new Play-park in Port Ellen and talked about forces there. They also looked at our playground toys to find out what forces they used. Then they invited parents in to help  make their own play-park 3D models and will test them to see which forces the objects use. The forces that they have been learning were push, pull, twist, air resistance, friction and gravity. Next week, on Wednesday, they will be having a visitor who knows about STEM, and will teach the P1/2/3’s more about forces and things to do with STEM. Robyn, one of the class, said that she would like to do more about science and forces, and the class enjoyed it a lot, even though it is not the end of science week yet. They are eager to learn more and they seem excited to learn more about forces and science. Overall, I think that the P1/2/3 class enjoyed themselves very much, and the experiments with the toys went well,  they would love to learn more about STEM and how it works.

By Kaya Middleton



STEM Minecraft

On Wednesday 15th March P6/7 from all over the island went to the Islay  High School  to work with the STEM  ambassadors and one of the activities was Minecraft Education. When we were tinkering with that we were learning how to use debugging because if you make something wrong you have to find out what is wrong and then you have to fix it yourself.  Also when I was playing on Minecraft I had to use logic because I had to figure out how to use Minecraft on a laptop because I had never used it before.  When I was playing  Minecraft I noticed that there were different materials that you can you such as cameras and different blocks.

When I got used to playing Minecraft education I started building myself a house but when I finished my house somebody blew it up so I just decided just to join a new world.

Overall I think that the day was great!

By Rebecca Morris

Game Design At Islay High School

P6/7 went to the high school on Wednesday 15th March and we had a STEM day with lots of other schools on Islay. STEM stands for  S  science,  T  technology,  E  engineering  and  M  maths. We have been learning about STEM in class.  At the high school there was a lot of things to do. My favourite thing to do was Kodu. You got to make your own game and then once you are finished you swapped with the other people in your group. We learned to make our own game on Kodu. In my game you had to dodge all of the hills and try to get to the big castle and if you bumped into the castle you would win but you only have 60 seconds to complete the level and if you don’t get to the castle in that amount of time you would lose. When I was making my game I had to program my character to jump so it would go over the hills and before that I had to program him to move. Before I played the game I thought it would be very easy but when I played the game I thought it was very hard so I had to fix the game. To fix the game I had to put down the hills  so people will get to the castle easily.  After I fixed the game I could play the game and so could the other people in my group.     By Rowan

Spheros At Islay High School

On the 15 March 2017 all the primary 5/6/7’s from Islay went to the Islay High School to do some STEM which stands for Science Technology Engineering Maths. There was lots of things there like: Minecraft, 3D printer, Spheros, Computational Thinking, Kodu game programing, Micro Bits, Lego We do. My favorite was the spheros because you got to program them.  Then we got to drive them round the room and it was really fun because you can change the speed, colour and the direction with an analog stick. I learned from this how to program on a different app on a different device instead of using Kodu or Scratch all the time.

The Microbit

On Wednesday 15th March all the p6\7 from Islay and Jura came       to the Islay High School to do technology and science.  First we were put into groups with people from other schools.  We then got to learn about different technologies. The microbit was hard to use because first you had to program it, then download it, then put onto the microbit. First I made the lights on the middle to say hello.  After I did that I made the lights say ‘hi i am a micro chip’.   You had to use  skills like  perseverance a lot for the microbit.   At the end Ithought that it was easier than at the start.

Lego Wedo

On Wednesday the 15th of March P6/7 all over the island went to the high school to do STEM and there were different activities to do.One of the activities was Lego Wedo. What is Lego Wedo? Well Lego Wedo is when you get to make your own robot. There were three different choices and the one I did was like a bumblebee with  a long neck. There were other ones to do as well. To build the robot you had to go on an app on the iPad and you chose the robot that you chose of the sheet and then tap on to it and it will come up with the instructions  to build your robot.

  I learned how to build lego  on my own and how to use the app on the iPad. The skills I use was tinkering because I had to play around with it so that is would work. I also had to use debugging because the programing went wrong and it did not work. I also had to debug the robot because some parts of it were in the wrong direction and in the wrong places.

I think that the one I chose to build was the easiest to make because it was small and it had the least steps and it was not that hard to make.  I felt happy when I had made the robot because I got to build another robot like that but not the same and it was harder.

The 3D Printer at Islay High School

On Wednesday 15th March primary 6 and 7 went to the High School to do science and technology.  There was a 3D printer which was really cool.                                                                                                                              We were shown some of the things that they had printed.  There was two little cubes and a shark.  We then went on to the computers.  The computers were on an app where you get to create things in 2D then you can change it to 3D.  When the man was showing us how it works it didn’t work because something was covering the bit where all of the stuff that prints the stuff.

I learned how to use a new app,  how to turn something 2D to 3D on that app and how to add a text box on to your shape.  When I was trying to get the text box on to my shape the writing would only go along the box two letters and then it would move on to the next line. It was because I didn’t make the text box wide enough.  I really enjoyed it because it was something new and challenging.


On the 15th of March P6/7 went to the high school for a science day. P6/7 from different schools came as well, like Bowmore, Port Charlotte and Keills. We all got into groups to do different activities. P7 went to do science. We did Chemistry, Physics and also Biology.

In biology we had to find many different things about ourselves, like our heart rate, our temperature, our reaction time and about our lungs. After we had tested we had to write it down.

Also we had to get a sample of our DNA.  We did that by getting fairy liquid and pouring it into a tube. Then we had to getting a cotton wool stick and wipe it around our mouths. We would then stick it in the tubes. After we did that we got something that was ice cold, and put it in with the fairy liquid. We then put it in a beaker and poured it in somewhere else. To make sure it was ours we had to write our initials on it. We all learned how to get a sample of our own DNA and I think that is a good skill to learn. We all really enjoyed the different activities that we did, and cannot wait to do it again in high school.


On the 15th of March all of the P6/7 on Islay took part in STEM activities.  STEM is science, tecnnology, maths and engineering.

It felt really strange in the high school and we had three different science teachers.  I liked Mr Kitching’s class where we were learning about physics and magnetism.

We got to try out different machines that made electromagnets and we had to make the light turn. It was fun and I met lots of new friends for high school and the event made me meet a lot of new people.

Science For P7 At Islay High School

In the afternoon of Wednesday 15th March all the P7s of Islay and Jura all learned about chemical reactions. The chemical reactions that Mrs Moran talked about are; change of colour, appearance of a solid, different temperature- hot or cold, bubbles, sound and it might move around the water. All the P7 went to do science to see what the High School is like and what the science class is like. We learned that if you sprinkle  little bits of iron over a flame of fire it will look like sparklers.

Mrs Moran  also taught about sodium which is a metal and showed us what it can do. Sodium is a dangerous product and can be very harmful but what it can do looks very pretty. Mrs Moran put a tiny bit of sodium in the water. ” Everyone stand back!” Mrs Moran said. The sodium whizzed about the water, slowed down and created a pretty pinky purple colour in the water it moved around and in a couple of seconds BANG!

By Natalie

P4/5 Force Topic For Science Week

P4/5 have been learning about forces for science week. They have also been using science skills like how to test fairly.  They tested to find out how the difference in force they applied had bigger and smaller impacts on what they were moving.  They measured what they were doing in newtons and the testing was fair and accurate. They built rockets to test which would travel the furthest.  They felt that the bigger force would have a better impact because it would make the rocket go further and faster.

They also did an experiment on how far a small car could travel. They had a chair and they had a elastic band. They put the elastic band round the chair legs and then one of them pulled the band back and then the other person put the car in front of the band and then the other person the band go and it shot the car forward. Then they marked down what distance the car had traveled. They then used smaller and bigger pulls on the elastic band to see if the distance would change.  They learned how changing the size of a force could change the motion of what they were testing.

By Ruaraidh P7

Generation Science visit with Lego Mindstorms

On Monday 13th March we programmed robots when we had a visit from Generation Science for National Science Week.

The robots were made of Lego but they had a device on them. The device was what made the robots do what it was programmed to do, a micro processor. We had to get a computer then make programs on it. We had to add settings on an app on the computer then make it move forward by clicking a arrow facing forward and then add more setting and click on a stop button to make it stop.

Once we made the programs we had to get a cord then plug one end into the computer and the other into the robot. We then had to press a button on the computer to transport the programs onto the robot. Once the robot was programmed you had to take it to a race track to get it tested and if the robot passed the test, you can go onto the next challenge. The next challenge was to make it go forward then go backwards for 3 seconds. We had to make a new setting on the computer which had a backward arrow on it and then make it go backward for 3 seconds by clicking a button and writing 3 seconds down. We then tested it out again on the race track and then we got another challenge.

The challenge was to keep all the program but make it rotate.To do that we added a new setting and put it before the stop setting. we then just put rotate to 75 and then tested it out. For the next challenge we had to remove all our current programs then add new. We had to make it go forward and then dodge barrels then go back on track and make it to the end of the track. It was hard because we could not use any senses so it could not dodge barrels just by seeing the barrels so we had to judge the time it would take to hit the barrels. Not many people made it past the challenge and eventually we had to stop. We then had a few minutes to give our robot some programs and make it dance. We had a robot dance battle  but they were no winners.

Drone After School Club

  On Monday 13th March we had a drone club after school. Nearly everyone in my class went to the club. The club was for primary 4 – 7. The first thing we had to do was program the drones to make them fly around in a square. We used the Ipad  to program them.   The first time we tested it some groups made it do a flips and turns. Some of the drones wheels that protected us from it even fell of. After that we got a shot of spheros that got controlled on an ipad .  You had a choice of changing its speed or colour . At the end of the club we got to see a very small computer about a half the size of a  remote. Everyone go a shot of tinkering with it.

A toothrific afternoon!

On Monday, 13th March Mrs Bermingham came in to talk to us about keeping our teeth healthy and cleaning them properly. She talked about all of the good and bad bacteria in our mouths and why it’s important to eat healthy snacks. She also told us that we need to “spit, not rinse!” and Spitty Monkey squirted water at us! She also gave us a Healthy Snack reward chart to make sure we are bringing healthy snacks into school.

By Christopher and the P1-3’s

The Dream Team Game Design

This term we have been learning about Game Design. We all got into groups which would be our companies. My groups company name was The dream team. There was criteria like,

  • You must all adopt roles.
  • You must create an eye-catching logo.
  • You must create a prototype of your game.
  • You must create a survey and make a graph with your results.
  • You must have a clear plan of your game.
  • You must have a clear, colourful storyboard.
  • You must have a clear background story.
  • You must create colourful characters, settings and objects.
  • You must write instructions that show you how to play the game.
  • You must create an advertising poster that makes someone want to buy your game.
  • You must create a theme tune that sounds good for your game.
  • Everyone must create a pitch to sell our games.

This is one of the members of the group with the storyboard. The Dream Team’s name for their game was Racing Master.

Racing master is a game where you have to race against all the other formula one champions to win the championship. We had two different levels that got harder and harder. As we made our game on Kodu we could only use the characters that are there so on the first level we used a blimp, a jet, a rover and the character you were playing was a rover. In the second level we used three jets and in this level you also played a rover. In the first level there is a race track and you are against your opponents. On the track there is obstacles if you hit into the obstacles you slow down. You also have to try stay on the track because if you go on the grass you will slow down. There is only 2 ways to move to the next level. One way is to beat the characters in the race. The other way is to collect 5points then you can win and move onto the next level. To collect points you can find the hidden coins on the track then you bump into them and it gives you a point.

In level two there are lots of hills and the track is different but you have to follow the same rules and you can win in the same way. You also need to try not to go off the track or bump into the objects and try to collect coins. There was one problem with the characters on the game because they wouldn’t follow the path but we managed to fix it using debugging. We have learned more about game design and solving problems. We used debugging and also tinkering when we were trying to fix the problems. Our logo was a shape with the dream team written inside it and four clouds in the corners of the page. The whole group enjoyed doing this topic and need to work on working in a team.

By Kaitlyn

Fish Finish Line!


Port Ellen Primary Schools Primary 5/6/7 class has been doing game design for their topic. They had to make a game for 7-12 year olds. Then they had to battle all the games in the class.  First they had to assign roles and create a group name.

In my group (Fish Finish Line) I was the Creative Director it is like being the manger and I found being the manager. Aidan was the Marketer that meant he had to find out what other people would want to play/buy.  Aiden was also the Creative Assistant and he had to take over is the Creative Director is he or she was away.

Aiden says” I really enjoyed it because I enjoy doing surveys and collecting information.”

Holly was the Programmer and she had the fun job of programming. Ellie and Matthew shared the job of the Game Designers and they had to do the logo and the story board. Lauren was the Artist and she had to design characters for the game.

We made an IMovie, poster, characters, 4 worlds, theme tune, logo, game summary, story board and a survey. In the end we presented our game to Mr Shakespeare. He judged us on different aspects but we won the best presentation!

Bird Endeavour

Today wednesday 1st March I got an email from David Wood about my bird Endeavour, he sent me tracks of greenland white fronted geese. That the RSPB track using tags, he sent me the tracks to show me where the greenland white fronted geese migrate to and I found it very interesting, they fly thousands of miles and they all fly in their families.