Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize

Click on the image to link to the Royal Society website.

Our Lady’s have been selected as one of the judging panels for the Young People’s  Book Prize.

Our Lady’s has been awarded a free set of the shortlisted books which have now been pored over by pupils from different departments, checking them from the perspectives of design, marketing and information books. Groups reviewed every book and calculated an average score for each title. This involved a great deal of discussion and analysis as pupils discovered the value of not judging a book by its cover.

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As our analysis continued, we also discovered the value of this process for explaining careers connected tot he publishing and creative industries, demonstrating the large numbers involved in getting a book from idea to bookshelf.

Our volunteer judging panel will now check over the books in much more detail, preparing questions for authors and illustrators and creating our final submissions. If you would like further information or to volunteer for the judging panel please see Mrs Macfadyen in the Library.

 

Titanic Project 2017: posters, buoyancy and mapping

Start of Titanic Project week 2 and the Crew were working with Mr Weir from Art and Design creating Titanic posters in Photoshop (photos to follow). Next they learned about buoyancy and how enormous steel vessels stay afloat, making their own vessels with Mr Law in Science. Congratulations to the team of Omar and Conor whose boat was most successful.

In the afternoon, Miss Moir from Social Subjects worked with the class on a giant map showing the Titanic’s route from Belfast to disaster, adding information about each port of call and passenger nationalities.

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Excellence and Equity Awards 2017

School awards highlight positive initiatives

Excellence and Equity Awards 2017
Productive Partnerships – Purposeful Learning
Our Lady’s High School, Motherwell
Titanic Project

 As a result of changes to SQA exams, staff at Our Lady’s High School, Motherwell, spotted an opportunity to provide an exciting programme of interdisciplinary experiences for some of our National 4 students. Our aim was to help pupils gain additional qualifications while expanding their life experiences and raising awareness of the options available to them on leaving school, all through focusing on the Titanic disaster.

We are now approaching the third year of this vibrant project which runs over three weeks of the SQA diet. The programme coordinators are PT Pupil Support, Lyn Zambonini, and Library Resource Centre Manager, Jennifer Macfadyen and involves staff from across Our Lady’s High School, local businesses, voluntary groups and national organisations.

Following an initial introduction, the programme is split into four broad areas: ship building and design; life aboard the Titanic; the disaster itself; and the rediscovery of the wreck.

We were stunned to discover that the steel plates that built Titanic had actually come from the Colville Steelworks in Motherwell, making a wonderful connection with our local heritage. Pupils were lucky to experience Tata, now Liberty Steel, in the process of rolling the steel plates with a guided tour by staff at the plant, who also provided pupils with many stories of life at the steelworks and a thorough grounding in Health and Safety routines.

Although the Titanic was built in Belfast, we were able to take advantage of the Clyde’s vast experiences in ship-building, visiting the Titan Crane at Clydebank, and the Denny Tank Museum at Dumbarton. Titan staff explained how riveting gangs worked, how the shipyards were a part of the community and how dangerous life was while the Denny Flotation Tank demonstrated the engineering expertise involved in designing and testing ships’ hulls. The group also discovered that Denny’s was even involved in testing some of Titanic’s lifeboats. This information became invaluable when learning about buoyancy with Science teachers back at OLHS, and designing their own hulls.

Pupils also learned more about some of the passengers and crew aboard and the different lives they led on a luxury liner depending on their class. English showed the films, A Night to Remember and Titanic, and compared the special effects and reliability of each. Our group were able to put their new-found knowledge into practice by working with Lifestyle Development staff to create a shipboard lunch for staff – although staff did not know until the last minute whether they would receive the 1st, 2nd or 3rd class treatment and dining experience.

To bring everything up to date we contacted Greenock Ocean Terminal who kindly arranged for us to have a tour of the Caribbean Princess. We used this experience as a focus on careers, bringing along our Careers Advisor, Miss Ruth Robertson from SDS to provide detailed advice. Seeing aboard a real cruise ship gave pupils a whole new way of looking at the world, and the numerous careers open to them. They were also keen to compare the Caribbean Princess to what they had already learned about ship design. They were definitely impressed by the safety regulations and the numbers of lifeboats.

Turning our attention to the disaster itself, Mr Walter Lee from the RNLI kindly came along to demonstrate what happened with the iceberg and graphically explain what would have happened to the Titanic’s passengers in the water, including the effects of hypothermia – he even brought along his own mini iceberg!

Other activities have included creating a map of the world demonstrating the Titanic’s route (Social Subjects); printing and poster making (Art and Design); trying out Morse code (Science); an afternoon swimming courtesy of NL Leisure (Lifestyle Development); building their own model Titanic (Social Subjects / Art); discussion of moral issues relating to women and children first and the treatment of 3rd class passengers (RE); further moral issues relating to the wreck arose following a screening of Ghosts of the Abyss: should the Titanic be raised? Should material be removed? Should the ship be left to rust to nothing? (English); and multi-lingual newspaper front pages (Modern Languages).

With so many stories being generated from the project, we wanted pupils to be able to record the aspects that were most important to them, from the ‘women and children first’ policy, to the lifeboats, to the role of the wireless operator, so we introduced the group to storyteller, Allison Galbraith, thanks to part-funding from the Scottish Book Trust. Allison demonstrated the art of storytelling, and guided the group through creating and recording their own stories, helping them to record their own voices for posterity. Allison started by introducing herself and just talking with the group, building pupils’ confidence in speaking before a stranger. As a result, although pupils were nervous about recording, they were keen to participate. Allison also demonstrated breathing exercises and vocal warm-ups before recording began, with further advice on presentation as we worked through the stories. Despite occasionally breaking into the giggles, every pupil managed to record their own work beautifully.

Discussion with pupils led to an additional trip which saw us taking the ferry to Rothesay and the stunning Mount Stuart House. This mansion was completed in 1912, the same year as the Titanic disaster and thus pupils were not only able to experience actually travelling across water – a new experience for all of them – but to see luxurious interiors similar to those of the ship they’d been learning all about.

The Titanic Project continues to develop with partnerships emerging as various individuals and groups express an interest in participating. In 2016, our pupils were even able to join with St Brendan’s Primary as part of their anniversary visit to Belfast to see the Titanic Museum for themselves.

The Titanic Project has been a huge success over the last two years. We have seen the pupils blossom, gaining in confidence, pulling together as a team, and their ideas of what’s available to them in the future have expanded rapidly. Each year pupils have created an exhibition of their experiences which have been visited by classes from across OLHS and visitors to the school, leading to further discussions and expressions of interest. Last year all of the pupils involved achieved the SQA qualifications. “Local investigations” at SCQF level 4.

Feedback from pupils themselves has been outstanding:

”I thought it would be boring, but it was brilliant!”;

“I liked how we went on adventures and explored all the museums”;

“I seemed to get a better relationship with people that I hadn’t spoken to since primary”;

”I actually wanted to come to school!”

The Project continues to explore new ground and build new partnerships. Staff coordinators continue to collect materials, ideas and contacts and we look forward to its continuing success long into the future.

 

 

Science: Fiction: Make: Believe

Recently the school entered a Scotland-wide creative writing competition for S2 pupils, organised by St Andrew’s University, called Science: Fiction: Make: Believe. Pupils were to write a 750 word creative piece about any Scottish scientist, alive or dead, or the impact of their discoveries or inventions. Through the collaboration of the English Department, Science Department and Library Resource Centre, all of our S2 pupils participatedwith staff selecting the work of Morgan Mackie (Alexander Fleming) and Andrew Ross (Dr Knox) as the two entries from Our Lady’s High School.

The judges have awarded Certificates of Commendation to both Morgan and Andrew, and they are invited to attend the award ceremony on the 4th March, at St. Andrews University School of Physics & Astronomy. A representative from the Royal Society of Edinburgh will present the prizes before an audience of pupils and their families who are warmly invited to the all-day event.

Well done, Andrew and Morgan! You can read their essays on our school website shortly.

Literacy across learning

S2 are working hard on a writing competition organised by St Andrew’s University. The aim of the competition is to put Art into STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. Pupils have to link their Science and English learning by researching their favourite Scottish scientist and using the information to write a creative piece.

So far, we have been entertained by essays on Alexander Graham Bell, Alexander Fleming and John Logie Baird. Mrs Millar, Mrs Sinclair, Mrs Macfadyen and Mr McKendrick will judge the essays and choose the best two to represent the school. The overall winner will receive a voucher for £50 and the four runners-up £25. Good luck everyone!

Meanwhile, all of S1 were presented with their Pocket Literacy Guide, kindly bought for them by the PTA. These handy books contain rules for punctuation, grammar and spelling, as well as hints for writing in different subject areas. We know that S1 will put these guides to good use in all their subjects.

Go4SET Launch Day 2016

On Wednesday 23rd November at Almada Hall, University of the West of Scotland (Hamilton) a group of pupils attended the Go4SET launch. This is a project organised by EDT (Engineering Development Trust) and involves engineering challenges over 10 weeks.  Participants must produce a written report, a presentation to the judges and then build a model of their project.

Launch day involved an introduction, some advice on how to proceed, meeting with industrial mentors  and 2 engineering challenges: building a marble rollercoaster – which we named Thunder – from cardboard and sellotape, as well as building a chair made from balloons. Our Chair of Air lasted well until someone had to sit on it. We had a wonderful time, and can’t wait for the next challenge.

Team: Blair Cook, Ciaran Hendry, Holly Irving, Erin Keating, Olek Kyc, Ethan Law, Paul Murphy

Google Expeditions

Pupils went exploring today through Google Expeditions, an app that allows classes to visit coral reefs, the Moon, the Grand Canyon, Rio de Janeiro, World War I trenches or the rainforest through Virtual Reality.

Over 200  pupils participated from departments including Social Subjects, English, Modern Languages, Science and Nurture. Staff were equally keen to try out the technology for themselves, so there was a steady stream of adults wandering around with the viewers too.

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Google Expeditions

On Friday the 25th of November the Social Subjects Faculty will have the privilege of hosting a team from Google Expeditions who facilitated Virtual Reality (VR) learning experiences for a number of our pupils. This unbelievable system allows those taking part to actually experience what it was like to be a soldier in the trenches during the First World War.

A number of different subject departments are involved: Social Subjects, English, Modern Languages, Science and Nurture. Over 200 of our young people will get the chance to be involved in a worthwhile and memorable experience. We hope it helps to bring their study of the First World War to life! #pollitolhs

Professor Martin Hendry

Report by John Galloway

On Tuesday the 25th of October, pupils from local secondary schools in North Lanarkshire, studying Physics at Higher level, attended a lecture at Our Lady’s High School from Martin Hendry, Professor of Gravitational Astrophysics and Cosmology in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Glasgow.  Professor Hendry’s lecture consisted of information regarding Gravitational Waves, Dark Energy and The fundamentals of Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Hendry’s efforts in Astrophysics and Cosmology have allowed him ,and the team at The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), to accomplished the great feat of helping confirm Einstein’s theory of Gravitation. In detecting evidence that Einstein’s theory is correct, they have further increased our understanding of the universe and the ways in which time, matter and space ,as we perceive them, operate. Professor Hendry’s efforts and enthusiasm in physics are sure to inspire a new generation of physicists who will eagerly further our knowledge of the universe.

The Lecture began with an introduction into the fundamentals of Einstein’s theory of  Relativity. Einstein’s theory gives light to the idea that the laws of physics are the same for stationary observers, and the speed of light in a vacuum is independent of the movement of observers. Hendry explained the ways in which Einstein’s theory allowed a perception of time and space to be created and the ways in which the universe ,as we know it, can be distorted by cataclysmic events;  The formation of a neutron stars, supernova explosions and the collisions of black holes. Professor Hendry continued his lecture by giving a brief account of dark energy and dark matter, and the effects of this undiscovered matter and energy in our universe. Dark Energy is theorised to be a form of energy which sort of opposes gravity and causes the universe to expand at an exponential rate. At this current moment, dark matter and dark energy are unexplained but with the recent discovery of gravitational waves it it’s thought that further discoveries in this perplexing field may be uncovered. This led Professor Hendry to his key talking point of the lecture; the discovery of Gravitational waves

Gravitational waves are distortions in the fabric of space and time given out during high energy events in our universe. During these high energy events, ‘ripples’ of gravitational waves are emitted and travel at the speed of light a little bit like dropping a pebble into a pond. Professor Hendry and the team at LIGO developed and improved the technology used to detect these miniscule distortions in space-time. By reducing uncertainty in the collected data and improving the sensitivity of the equipment used it led to the discovery of gravitational waves early this year. The discovery of these waves is characterised by a chirping sound which Professor Hendry so eloquently recreated. Hendry and the team at LIGO did what many Physicists thought was impossible, to prove Einstein’s theory. There are increasing detections of gravitational waves with more being discovered each year. Furthermore, Hendry discussed the further implications of Gravitational waves and the extent of how ground-breaking this discovery of gravitational waves are in the world of physics.

It is possible that the team at LIGO may be in the running for the Nobel Prize in Physics. On behalf of all the pupils who attended Professor Hendry’s lecture, we would like to thank him for his time and entertaining talk and to wish him and the Team at LIGO every success.

WoSPEG Quiz 2016

Report from Mr Law

Without a doubt, the highest standard first round of the competition I’ve witnessed over the last ten years.  Teams of three students, each answering three questions, no confering, for a total of 6 marks apiece over three rounds.  With another 6 marks possible for the written answer team round, that brings the total available for National 5 Physics related questions to 24.  We lost a mark for forgetting to include the unit in the team round.  Hopefully a lesson learned for their SQA exams.  Notre Dame performed flawlessly on these directed questions.  Bearsden and Dunblane only lost 2 marks apiece.  In total therefore, the 4 teams scored 95%, an impressive knowledge of their work up to now.

With a four mark anagram round and the competition opening and ending with a buzzer round worth 20 marks, the outcome was determined by reflex as well as general knowledge and familiarity with current news items.  As far as memory serves I can recall only 3 questions in these rounds that the teams couldn’t answer correctly.

After the 1st round Bearsden and Dunblane were ahead by 5 marks.  By the last round Bearsden had a slightly reduced lead with Dunblane a couple of points adrift.  A good last round from Our Lady’s High and they were level with Dunblane with only one more question to answer.  As the words of the immortal Scottish Bard wrang out, I was screaming for our team to just buzz in … screaming inside my head that is … and I watched as one of them pressed their buzzer.  Their buzzer light did not stay on and I waited to hear which school had buzzed first.  It was Dunblane.  Sure enough they had the correct answer and along with Bearsden, the clear winners, two very worthy teams progress to the semi-finals.  With Notre Dame only a couple of points behind us the heat was not only of a very high standard but also very evenly balanced.  Well done to WoSPEG for delivering such a vibrant celebration of Physics.

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Our team of Patrick Quinn, Emma Dolan and Heather Nugent were an absolute credit to our school.  They couldn’t have performed better other than perhaps having cybernetic implants to improve their speed of reflex.  Along with the excellent cheerleading reserve Ryan Kane they seemed to thouroughly enjoy the competition, the experiments laid on prior to the quiz (mainly involving liquid Nitrogen) and the complimentary drinks, chocolate and WoSPEG mugs for participants.  There’s always next year.

Summer School 2016

Report from Mrs King

The annual summer school at Our Lady’s High School took place on August 8th with twenty new first year pupils and four senior pupils enjoying four days of activities. The summer school allows the young people to become more familiar with the secondary school setting and to meet some of the school staff before the new term begins. Being more confident and self-assured at the start of secondary school gives the S1 pupils a positive step towards a successful transition from primary school.

The S1 pupils took part in team building with the Partnership Staff on the first morning followed by a workshop of pottery with Ms Steinert where the pupils made clay hedgehogs in the afternoon.

On Tuesday, the pupils learned to play the ukulele with Mr McVeigh followed by a session on how to create scars and bruises using special effects make up with Kirsty McCabe.

On Wednesday, the pupils were treated to some Science experiments with Mr Law from Physics and after lunch, Mrs Smith from Performing Arts gave the pupils an opportunity to practice their voice and acting skills.

Each day, the pupils gathered to have lunch together and to make new friends and meet various teaching staff

On the final day, the entire group, Ms McDonald, Ms King and Mr Smith had a successful day trip to Blair Drummond Safari Park where they enjoyed seeing all the animals, especially the sea-lion show, and had some free time to explore the park.

Visit to New Lanark

Report from Mr Law

On the 1st and 2nd of June this year, over 100 of Our Lady’s High School students visited the New Lanark World Heritage Site.  Just under 100 S1 Science pupils along with some S3 Geography students experienced learning about the history of the Mills and their use of renewable energy.

There was a very clever use of gravitational potential energy, as water flowed from the lade (a canal that was cut parallel to and higher than the Clyde) down through the water wheels of the Mills and back into the Clyde.  The cogs, ratchets and gears that then transferred this free energy into working the spinning machines helped make New Lanark such a success story.  The social history tour helped put the science into context.  The village that supported the mills had their own shop, church and doctor under the direction of mill owner, Robert Owen.  Although the working week was long and more arduous than the vast majority of jobs in the UK currently, it was a vast improvement upon that experienced by many of their contemporaries.  They even had a school where children could receive “free” education until their teenage years!  With Sunday off each week, a couple of extra days off during the year, a shop that sold quality produce at cheap prices and pleasant countryside to walk through, it must have appeared a dream employment for many ordinary working people.

Our pupils were very well behaved and a credit to our school and thoroughly enjoyed themselves while learning science, geography and history.  A beneficial synthesis for learning! Thanks go to all our tour guides from the New Lanark Trust and especially to, “Historic Environment Scotland”, for their travel subsidy.

Titanic Project Week 1

Our Titanic Project pupils spent a week investigating facts about the ship and ship-building. They worked with storyteller, Allison Galbraith, to learn what makes a decent story, and visited the Titan Crane at Clydebank and the Denny Tank at Dumbarton, part of the Scottish Maritime Museum. The Science Department demonstrated buoyancy and helped pupils investigate floating (see below) and then pupils built a copy of the Titanic with Social Subjects.

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From Mr Law

The Science Department asked pupils to design a ship so that it wouldn’t sink.

The Groups did very well.  There were some excellent designs and some nervous and excited participants during the second phase of the challenge when designers add mass to the boats to see when they sink.

Results :

  • Johann & Harry: 1,200g
  • Nicole & Natalie: 2,000g
  • Gary & Dean: 2,000g
  • Zac, Shannon & Sammi:  2,800g

Forfeit for the others is that they have to refer to the winners as Captain for the rest of the day.

Rocket Science

Pupils in S1, S2 and S3 have been planting seeds from space. Packets of rocket seeds were sent to the International Space Station under the care of astronaut Tim Peake. Those seeds were then sent back to Earth and delivered to schools with another packet of rocket seeds from the Royal Horticultural Society. Schools only know that there is a blue packet and a red packet; we don’t know which seeds have been in space.

Pupils and staff will now measure the blue and red trays of seeds and identify any differences between them. Pupils suggested that the lack of gravity in space may have impacted on the growth of the seeds.

Rocket Science report from the BBC.

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Go4SET 2016

Report by Mr Law

After ten weeks of effort, the Our Lady’s High School S2 Go4SET team presented their findings to a panel of judges at the Banqueting Hall, Almada Street in Hamilton. Researching, report writing and model building completed, the 5 members of the team displayed and explained their findings in an enthusiastic and professional manner.

Thanks to John McIntyre of the competition organisers (EDT) we were able to have a “Launch Day” at the school. He presented them with a choice of options. They decided to progress an investigation into an environmentally friendly railway station. Roles assigned, they each took on responsibility to enable a full report to be completed, detailing any visits and research conducted in order to arrive at recommendations. A trip to Glasgow Central Station proved extremely difficult to organise. Although staff appeared enthusiastic, no arrangements could be provided to enable information or a tour and in the end we decided to visit on our own. One afternoon the students collected footfall data in order to determine potential energy gains from power mats at entrances, exits and escalators/stairs. A visit to the New Lanark World Heritage site was arranged by our industrial sponsor, Mr. Stephen McCann of Morrison Construction. This proved to be an excellent introduction to the generation of electricity via water power. His advice also proved very beneficial with regard to life skills such as meeting deadlines, organisation and delegation of tasks.

These students gave up a great deal of their own time in order to fully engage in the tasks. Breaktimes and after school, especially with the final deadline looming, resulted in a very rewarding mix of effort, enthusiasm and co-operation in order to complete the challenge. They finished 4th out of 11 teams, losing by only 3 points. Well done to all the students participating, including the 3 members of the team that couldn’t make the finals day. Thanks go to Morrison Construction and the competition organisers, EDT (Engineering Development Trust) for their much appreciated contributions.

Edinburgh International Science Festival Sci-Kus

From Miss McGinty’s S2 Science class.

Spaceships are flying
Lots of humans are dying
People are crying

Reagan

Is it really true?
Alone in the Universe?
Is there really life?

Abigail

The Planets spin round
A yellow ball of fire
Burning bright and high

Emma

Planets and Comets
In the Dark Solar System
Surrounded by stars

Weronika

From Earth, Space seems far
Beautiful planets like Mars
Don’t forget the Stars!

Kerryn

Stars are nice and bright
Stars are really cool at night
Shooting stars are alright

Max

Shooting stars are bright
They move very very fast
then they burn away

Dominik

Stars are shining bright
Planets are moving around
The moon is quite bright

Alanah

Stars shine the brightest
Lifting high with gravity
shine in the darkness

Caitlin

White, Quiet is the moon
Red, yellow, orange is the bright sun
I’ll go see them one day!

Sara

I like space stations
I think aliens are real
Stars are up in space

Shaun

The spaceships are cool
I will be an astronaut
I will go to space

Ciaran