Borders College

Hawick pupils experience innovation at Science Festival

As part of the fourth Borders Science Festival, taking place throughout May, Borders College Hawick Campus opened its doors to 31 P6 pupils from Drumlanrig School.Science week Hawick

Pupils were divided into two groups ahead of taking part in various activities, including;

  • Animation
  • Coding/programming
  • Sphero ball
  • Augmented and Virtual Reality

BLOODHOUND is currently a hot topic in the Engineering industry, which is centred around the creation of a supersonic car that can break the land speed record. Schools and Colleges nationwide have been taking part in BLOODHOUND competitions through the STEM Ambassador Programme, where they create their own small versions of the rocket car using the supplied Micro:bit ‘kit’, then race against each other at the end of the day. Today the pupils worked in pairs to create their cars (led by College Lecturers Dave Black, Dale Clancy and Iain Scott), each coming up with their own design, decoration and team name. Pupils from team ‘Ocean Blue’ explained that the two ‘anchors’ they were fitting to the base of their car would, “keep the car on the track and stop it from veering off course during the race.”

Interactive Media Student and Digital Ambassador at the College, Robert Roksela, hosted an Animation workshop with the pupils where they had the chance to turn their drawing into a 30 second stop-start animation. Drumlanrig pupil Lily McAulay said: “I have an app for animation at home on my tablet which I’m going to use more often now.” Lily’s group created an animated outdoors scene and the pupils all found it interesting to see how much time has to go into creating a relatively short animation.

Helen McNeill, Instructional Designer in the Technology Enhanced Learning unit within the College, gave a workshop on the principles of coding where she guided pupils through the various steps involved in programming a character in a game to move e.g. jump, go forwards or step left/right. The pupils enjoyed manipulating the characters and game outcomes themselves.

Borders College Head of ISLT, Fraser Wight, demonstrated a gadget that is taking America by storm, the Sphero ball – Sphero is a ball that can travel up to 4.5 miles per hour and is controlled using a smart phone. During morning break the pupils eagerly left their snacks behind to have a go at operating the Sphero - they tried to steer the ball over two small ramps whilst their classmates looked on, which was much harder than it looked!

Augmented Reality, another popular technological tool, was demonstrated to the groups by College Librarian Jamie McIntyre – the pupils were able to use an iPad to scan a printed information page on ‘The Human Body’. Once scanned, a 3D interactive image of the human skeleton appeared on the iPad screen where pupils could learn more. Jamie also allowed the pupils to experience the exciting realm of Virtual Reality using Google Cardboard. Google Cardboard is a tool made up of two parts – an app and a pair of goggles designed to hold your smart phone while the app is in operation. The two combined propels the user into a virtual reality where they feel as if they are ‘inside’ their smart phone experiencing a whole other location to that of the here and now. This activity proved very popular with the pupils.

The event was a great success and the pupils all had a fantastic day. Feedback from the pupils included comments such as; “Fandabydosey”, “It was really fun and entertaining!”, “I loved doing the photos.” (in the animation activity).

The BLOODHOUND race, where the rocket cars the pupils made earlier were raced in competition with each other, rounded off the day with the winning car clocking up a speed of 79 miles per hour!

Joanne George, Developing the Young Workforce Project Manager at the College, was heavily involved in the planning of the event in collaboration with Kelsey Jubin, who is Creative Learning Assistant in Scottish Borders Council’s Children and Young People’s Services unit. Kelsey commented: “This event has been the highlight of the whole Borders Science Festival for me. It’s been great to see how engaged the pupils were in all the activities.”

Heather Anderson, Vice Principal for Curriculum at Borders College, was equally pleased with the event, saying: “This event has gone extremely well, even better than anticipated. I hope it has been an experience that the P6 pupils can take forward into their futures, encouraging them to develop STEM skillsets.” (STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

More information on the events held during Borders Science Festival can be found at

Published: Wed 8th Jun, 2016