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.

 

 

Edinburgh Airport

Report by Miss Moir

On the 22nd February the S5/6 Travel and Tourism class enjoyed a visit to Edinburgh Airport for the day. The pupils were shown around various departments by Jamie Loudon and his colleagues at British Airways.

The day started with a briefing from British Airways staff before heading to security to learn how they check luggage. Pupils were shown into a security room and talked through the bag checking process. After that, pupils were taken behind the scenes to see where all the baggage goes and how it is separated for the different flights.

Pupils then got to enjoy lunch in the British Airways lounge before being taken on a tour of the runways by bus. After that there was time for a quick chat with the firemen at the fire station and some air stewards on a British Airways flight before heading home.

The class would like to thank Jamie and his staff for taking the time to organise the trip and showing us around on the day. The pupils thoroughly enjoyed the experience and gained a valuable insight into working in an airport.

Higher Geography Fieldtrip

Report by Ms Moir

The Higher Geography class visited Glasgow on Monday 20th March to conduct fieldwork for their assignment. The class visited the suburbs, the inner city area and the city centre to carry out their work. Pupils completed traffic surveys, recorded different land uses in the areas and conducted questionnaires to the public. Pupils are now working hard in class to process these reuslts and analyse them for their assignment. Every pupil did a fantastic job of representing the school and thoroughly enjoyed their day out!

Jamie Loudon, British Airways

Report from Mr Smith

The S5/6 Travel and Tourism class had a guest speaker this week. Jamie Loudon is the airport manager for British Airways at Edinburgh Airport.

Jamie spoke passionately about his job and his career so far. The pupils enjoyed his stories from his time as an air steward and had the opportunity to ask questions about the travel industry. The class woud like to thank Jamie for taking the time to talk to them and for all his advice he gave them for the future.

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

Politics Week at Summerlee

S3 Modern Studies pupils visited Summerlee on 18th December as part of UK Parliament Week. They were addressed by Phil Boswell MP, Elaine Smith MSP, Councillor Michael McPake and Professor Kirstie Blair from Strathclyde University, as well as exploring the exhibits throughout the museum, and taking part in a mock election for the Scottish Parliament and in the EU Referendum.

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Pupils pointed out to Mrs Macfadyen that cameras were not allowed in polling stations, but graciously agreed to allow shots without faces in view.

#pollitolhs

Higher Politics latest

Report from Miss Halket

Clare Adamson, MSP, visited our Higher Politics class this week. Clare led discussion on various topics, including the European Union and her own journey into politics. We are very grateful for the time she spent with us and the knowledge gained. This experience will undoubtedly help our young people as they progress through their studies.

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Our Higher Politics class also helped write a speech on ‘The State of Mortuaries in Scotland’ for Graham Simpson, MSP. Mr Simpson delivered his speech in Parliament and our young people watched the recording of this on YouTube. We are proud of their hard work. You can see the speech below (blocked within NLC authority schools).

We would like to thank Mr Simpson for this opportunity and we look forward to visiting him in Parliament.

#pollitolhs

Colin Fox visit

colin-fox-visit

Colin Fox, National Co-Spokesperson for the Scottish Socialist Party, visited our Higher Politics class this week. Colin led discussion on his own understanding of socialism as a political theory, socialism in action in modern Scotland and counter arguments in response to criticisms of socialism. We are very grateful for the time he spent with us and the knowledge gained. This experience will undoubtedly help our young people as they progress through their studies.

Social Subjects Latest

Travel and Tourism

The Travel and Tourism class visited Thomas Cook in Motherwell to find out about their demands of working as a travel agent and their customer service policy.

We spent a really interesting hour in the store chatting to the staff and asking questions about a wide range of issues related to meeting the needs of customers and how to pursue a career in tourism after leaving school.

Auschwitz

S6 pupils successful in their application to go to Auschwitz are Ross Walker and Zoe Law.  They will go on a one day visit to Poland on 28th September with the Holocaust Education Trust. They will, we are sure, have a thought provoking and memorable visit.

Battlefields Trip

Adapted by Mrs Millar from pupil diaries.

For more information and photos from the 5th Our Lady’s Pals Battalion, please see Mr Smith’s website and Twitter @OLHSSocSubjects.

The 5th Our Lady’s High School Pals Battalion, led by Mr Smith and Kat Brogan of Mercat Tours, and accompanied by Mr Donnachie, Miss McGhee and Mrs Millar, set off for Belgium and France on Monday 20th June. We travelled by ferry from Hull and had a comfortable crossing to Zeebrugge – great food and accommodation onboard! Our first stop in Belgium was at the Pool of Peace, followed by Messines Church, then Hooge Crater museum where we had lunch, then onwards to Sanctuary wood where we donned wellies in order to experience life in the trenches. We reached Munchenhof around 5 and checked in to our very welcoming hotel where we were again well fed!

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On Tuesday we set off to France.  Our first visit was to Newfoundland Park, a beautiful, tranquil place dedicated to the Canadian soldiers who fought in the war.  We were privileged to walk across the battlefield and witness where the soldiers fought the Battle of the Somme: tragically, 91% of them did not make it back home. They are also remembered at Vimy Ridge, with an awe inspiring monument showing Mother Canada weeping for her lost children. We also visited Poiziers cemetery, where 14000 soldiers “Known Unto God” are remembered. This is the inscription carved on the memorial stones when soldiers who died could not be identified – or in some cases, even found. We were also proud to share a special moment with Robyn Leach, as she laid a wreath at the grave of her great great grandfather.2016_0622_093954

Thursday began at Essex Farm to visit the advanced dressing station where Lieutenant John McCrae wrote his famous poem “In Flanders Fields”. Next stop was Polkapelle Cemetery, where over 6000 of the 7400 men who lie there are only “Known Unto God”. We then visited Passchaendale, where half a million men died in 1917. We visited Tyne Cot Cemetery, the biggest Commonwealth cemetery in the world with 12,000 graves. Here, too, the lost men are remembered:  35,000 men – whose bodies were never found – are commemorated on the walls. Our next stop was at one of only four German cemeteries at Langemarck, resting place of over 40,000 German soldiers. After lunch we set foot in the Sacred City of Ypres for the first time, to visit the graves of two British soldiers shot at dawn by their own side. Lastly, we attended the Menin Gate ceremony in Ypres, where once again we were able to share the experience of finding a relative’s resting place with Lauren McCann. Our last official duty of the trip was when we then went on to Poelkapelle Cemetery to conduct our own memorial service.

Each evening, before dinner, Kat Brogan, our Tour Guide with Mercat International Tours, worked with the young people as they reflected on their experiences, writing in their daily diaries. Later, everyone enjoyed some down time, playing pool, bowling, watching TV or just chatting.

Our last day in Brugge saw a raiding of the chocolate shops and a scoffing of ice cream and delicious Belgian waffles before heading back to Scotland from Rotterdam on our second ferry – which was even more luxurious than the first one! After a fantastic meal,  everyone took to the floor – even the oldies – and danced the night away, finishing the night with a rendition of “It’s A Long Way to Tipperary” which brought the house down and made us many new friends!

The trip was both a lot of fun and very thought provoking – a real life changing experience for staff and pupils. Thanks to Mr Smith for organising a truly memorable time for us!

International Conference 2016

Report from Miss Halket

Twelve of our Higher Modern Studies/Higher Politics pupils represented our school at the North Lanarkshire Council International Conference on Thursday 16th June. Our pupils took on the role of diplomats and debated with over 250 other pupils. This opportunity allowed our young people to recognise the power of deploying rational and reasoned arguments which are rooted in reliable and compelling evidence. They passionately represented Syria and are a credit to our school. Furthermore, Magen McNulty won the award for “Best Contribution” on the day and has made us all extremely proud.

European Union Debate

Report from Miss Halket

Pupils took part in a whole school mock European Union Referendum on Friday 17th June.

In response to the question “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” you voted as follows:

  • Remain a member of the European Union – 76%
  • Leave the European Union – 24%

It will be very interesting to see how our result compares to the outcome of the official referendum that takes place this Thursday 23rd July.

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.

Scottish Youth Parliament By-election

Report from Mr Smith

Pupils are getting ready to vote in the upcoming Scottish Youth Parliament by-election for Motherwell and Wishaw. Christopher Wilson from the school is standing as a candidate and we are extremely proud of his hard work. Young people will have the opportunity to vote in Our Lady’s High School next week.

News from Social Subjects

Report from Mr Smith

S4 Geography pupils visited New Lanark on Thursday 2nd June to find out about how the facilities there are powered exclusively by water power. We hiked up to the Falls of Clyde and admired the view, and we had guided tours of the living and working conditions when New Lanark was a functioning cotton mill.

 

Pupils are enhancing their political literacy knowledge and skills by learning about the European Union. They are developing their understanding of the arguments for and against EU membership and will take part in a whole school mock referendum next week.

S5/6 are preparing for taking part in the International Conference. Our Lady’s team will represent Syria this year and are very much looking forward to this event.

Final preparations are underway for the battlefields trip on June 20th when Our Lady’s High School’s 5th Pals Battalion will fall in for duty and head off to Belgium and France.