Port Ellen shortlisted for prestigious Rolls-Royce Science Prize

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Published Date: 

7 Nov 2017 - 10:38

Port Ellen Primary School on Islay has been shortlisted as a finalist in this year’s prestigious Rolls-Royce Science Prize.


The children received a Special Merit for their initial submission before going on to be chosen as one of only six projects to be supported by Rolls-Royce over the next academic year.


The project has been developed to build children’s understanding and experience of engineering, specifically around renewable energy.


Surrounded by sea and subject to regular strong winds, Islay was home to the Limpet Wave Station and the island’s first community wind turbine is now up and running.


Because of this, the project aims to build children’s understanding of renewable energy sources and how clever engineering can address some of the world’s environmental problems. Engineering is an area the school would like to develop and teachers have already started to encourage Engineering Habits of Mind.


As a Cluster Science mentor, Maggie Harrison, who is leading the project, is also hoping to involve other cluster primary schools in the project and work with the Islay Energy Trust. 


Maureen MacDonald, Headteacher of Port Ellen Primary, said: “As head teacher at Port Ellen Primary School, it is important that we equip our children with skills for learning, life and work. Through our work in STEM, we have created a culture and environment that enables our learners to apply their thinking in real world applications. Our interdisciplinary methodology in STEM is a creative and inclusive approach which stimulates and motivates the youngest to the oldest learners.


When children are interested and engaged to this level, it not only helps to raise attainment and achievement, it also harnesses the enthusiasm of our parents, partners and community, creating a STEM domino effect. To have reached the final of the Rolls-Royce Science Prize, is testament to the hard work of the staff and the ambitious ethos within the school.”


Neil Chattle, STEM Ambassador from Rolls-Royce, visited the school last week to meet the children and the team involved in the project. 


He talked to pupils about his career as an engineer and the children were thrilled to get hands-on experience of jet engine parts and learn about the Bloodhound, a supersonic car powered by a Rolls-Royce jet engine, that will be attempting to break the land speed record. 


Neil said: “Being a STEM Ambassador is probably one of the most satisfying and important aspects of my long career at Rolls-Royce. Inspiring the next generation of children and see them engaging and enthusing in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects is marvellous and great fun too.


“This year as part of my STEM activities, I am mentoring Port Ellen Primary School on the small island of Islay as part of the Finalist of the Rolls-Royce (RR) Science Prize. The engagement and knowledge of all children was wonderful to see during my recent visit and the challenge of building a small RR ‘Bloodhound’ car powered by a balloon, was taken so seriously the children didn’t even hear the school bell for the end the school day. A very satisfying visit and I very much look forwards to returning again in the New Year.”


Chair of the Mid Argyll, Kintyre and the Islands Area Committee, Councillor Robin Currie said: “What an amazing achievement for the children and staff at Port Ellen Primary School. To be shortlisted for such a prestigious award is truly fantastic.


“We want to equip our young people to secure and sustain positive destinations and achieve success in life. STEM subjects are extremely important to this and as our young people grow there will be an increased demand for industry professionals in these subjects. Well done to everyone involved.”