Submerged in history
In a four-year partnership between Clober Primary in Milngavie, East Dunbartonshire, and Scottish Water, the children gained experience in enterprise and had a part to play in local history.
The youngsters were involved in the development of Scottish Water's new Katrine Water Project, a replacement for the original, opened by Queen Victoria 150 years ago.
"Primary 4 was chosen to follow the design all the way through, although elements of the project involved the whole school," explains headteacher Marianne Robb. "Each year involved a visit to the site, and a visit from Scottish Water to the school, with health and safety a running theme."
This the children learned about by visiting the site to see what was involved, and illustrating it via a poster competition. They became young builders, working on a construction activity, with the company giving each group a task to complete, with graphs to interpret, costings to be done, and time limits to be met.
This helped them understand the different careers involved. A quantity surveyor visited the school to help relate the curriculum to these careers, especially the application of maths. When the children visited the site, they observed scaffolders and others in action. They got to see how the water treatment operates and to look around the inside of the water tank.
A poetry competition on the subject of water helped put everything into perspective: the need for water in life, how it helps, health aspects.
By Year 4, the project was complete and Scottish Water worked with the children on giving something back to the environment and developing the site postcompletion. An environmental consultant came to the school and highlighted the strong links to geography.
"He brought plans of the area and discussed how they were going to put back the natural habitat. They talked about different trees and bushes and pupils were given worksheets to complete, identifying them. They also made an eco garden in the grounds," says Ms Robb.
A time capsule was buried on the site, says Ms Robb. "We included a recent copy of the Milngavie and Bearsden Herald; the CD "Now That's What I Call Music 66"; an MP3 player and other items relating to current events. These children will be invited back in 25 years' time for it to be dug up."
Last July, the Queen came to open the Katrine Water Project, with the schoolchildren playing a key part. "They prepared PowerPoint presentations in small groups, with story-boards for them to refer to, should she question them," says Ms Robb.
The Queen's visit was an education in itself. "There was lots of protocol," says Ms Robb, "and a PR person came to speak to the children and explain some etiquette. It went brilliantly and they all knew what their role was."
Ms Robb is delighted by how the project went. "They gained so much, not just the information about the project, but the realisation of the world of work. Hopefully, some will now have a better idea of career paths open to them in the future."
The school benefited in many ways other ways, too. "The pupils gained a piece of history," says depute head Greg Bremner. "This is an event which only happens every 150 years. It was very much about careers, but also how they can help in local areas and the environment. It has increased our links with the community, something we see as important in the school."
Marianne Robb sums up what the project meant for the school: "It was a fantastic, unique experience, and we felt very privileged to have been part of it."