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March 2017

What’s been happening in March…?


The old adage of; “In like a lamb and out like a lion” in describing March could also be applied to the March phase of our Marvellous Movers’ project. As the month passed, the relative calmness of planning and designing became more business-like and on occasions frantic as everyone in both schools worked hard and hurried to ensure we met our deadlines. St Patrick’s Day was identified as D-Day - delivery day, deadline day, do-it-now day! The children, staff and volunteers of both St. Colum’s and Portstewart Primary focussed their energies and creativity to produce a “Marvellous Mover” in every group…and what an amazing end there was to this phase of our project.


Sticking to the criteria provided and spending time at the development stage of our project to create innovative yet realistic designs meant that the children had a clear vision of what their marvellous mover should finish up looking and working like. Without any specific guidance the children have designed and created modes of transport for land, wind, air and space. Colum and Stewart will go far!




Each Marvellous Mover must


  • Move
  • Carry Stewart and Colum
  • Be made from recyclable / reusable materials


Enhanced criterion (for Key Stage 2)


  • Each Marvellous Mover must be powered by a renewable source of energy


In KS2, to adhere to their advanced criteria, they have utilised air, wind, water and solar power as sources of energy, powering their Marvellous Movers. Some very ingenious Primary 7 pupils have engineered hybrid vehicles powered by both wind and solar energies. This recognises the value both schools place on promoting eco-friendly environments and is a nod to current technologies.


As the vehicles were developed, tested and evaluated; the pupils encountered problems to which they had to find solutions. Modifications were made, compromises reached, new materials found and at the end the marvellous mover, for each group, was complete. The children were at times frustrated and perplexed as things didn’t go according to plan but their excitement and anticipation sustained their involvement in the project and they persevered with their collaborative problem-solving.


“Our boat is sinking because the cardboard is getting soggy!” said a Primary 1 pupil.


“Why won’t our submarine stay underwater?” one P2 questioned while another confidently suggested, “If you put a weight at one end then it will stay underwater.”


A P5 group complained that their vehicle was too heavy for the milk bottle lids they were using as wheels. “Just use two lids and stick them together, back to back. It’ll be like tractor or digger wheels.” one of the group proposed.


Another group was heard discussing how using a helium balloon instead of an ordinary balloon would give more power to their land vehicle. “It’ll hold more air and has a bigger bit where the air comes out so it will just zoom along the floor. But don’t let anyone else know or they’ll want our idea.” A budding Formula 1 engineer in the making, we think!


Our local grammar school, Dominican College, once again provided support to the project. A number of their pupils acted as mentors and facilitators to some of our budding engineers at this – the making, testing and modifying stage of the project. Their presence seemed to add a gravitas to the process as our younger pupils simply wanted to impress these older boys and girls with their knowledge and skills.


When the Marvellous Movers were complete the children evaluated them against the criteria set and identified what pleased them about their models. They also identified what they would do differently next time or what they felt would make their vehicles better. A selection of these evaluations along with the original design sheets will also make up part of the exhibition.


At various stages throughout the process, the children have had opportunities to talk about their aspirations for the models they wanted to make and to explain and reason their choices and thinking to the other pupils in their group and on occasion to the whole year group. In addition, at the close of this making stage, each group was provided with an opportunity, appropriate to their age and developmental stage, to present their marvellous mover to the whole year group explaining how it did or did not meet the criteria.


This was a tremendous opportunity for the children to speak to a wider audience displaying their confidence in the subject area, confidently using science and design-based language. It is apparent that we have created a generation of STEM enthusiasts across the Portstewart coastline.


The children have been aware that due to space restrictions that only some of the Marvellous Movers would be incorporated into the exhibition phase of the project. Therefore the pupils were involved in voting for and selecting at least three Marvellous Movers from all those made by their year group. Their choices are going to make up part of the exhibition in Flowerfield Arts Centre, at the end of March.


Throughout the process new friendships, between pupils in both schools, were formed and tested as compromises were reached. As they worked collaboratively, the children were beginning to really know each other, recognise

each other out of school and identify relationships that they want to pursue and maintain.


The Planning Team ...


A key element of this stage of the process, for the planning team, was offering support to all the staff and volunteers involved. Keeping everyone aware of what needed to be completed and providing encouragement and reassurance was a critical aspect of our work this month.


Throughout March, the planning team continued to meet. We also met in smaller groups to create evaluation proformas that were suited to the differing age groups. We needed these to reflect the set criteria and to encourage the children to identify strengths and weaknesses in their Marvellous Movers.

It was also crucial to keep a track of what stage each of the year groups were at, so as to meet our 30th March exhibition deadline. Under the guidance of Mrs Quiery, we began to catalogue the children’s designs, vehicles and evaluations. Our aim was to ensure that every group’s work would be represented and celebrated at least once in the exhibition. We worked with specific year groups collecting design sheets, evaluations, photographs and video footage.


Miss Gilmore & Miss McGoldrick continued to coordinate the whole project, working collaboratively to keep all the different aspects of the project moving forward. They spoke at staff meetings to ensure good levels of communication; they provided support to individual teachers and maintained the strong links between the schools. They facilitated the movement of the children between the schools by communicating with all our amazing volunteers. Miss Gilmore continues to oversee the budget for the project, identifying and sourcing resources. Miss McGoldrick has been developing other contacts to increase interest in the project from outside the Portstewart area.


Mrs Quiery has spent lots of time, with each of the year groups, videoing and photographing their progress. She even worked with a number of different pupils, encouraging them to take up the task of being behind the camera taking stills and video images. She continues to prepare for the exhibition - working closely with the venue; ordering and managing resources required and working with other members of staff who have come on board to add their expertise at this stage. This includes Mrs Harley, from St Colum’s, who has a background in graphic design. Mrs Harley has created our very own Marvellous Movers’ logo which she has incorporated into a range of promotional material for the exhibition. Mrs Quiery also enlisted the support of Mrs Mulholland, from St Colum’s, to assist in the setting up of the exhibition in Flowerfield.


Ms Murray, ably assisted by Miss Pillow, has been working on the video and write-up for the final submission. She continues to steer the project in a way that is ecologically sound. Dr Greene and Ms Murray are trawling through the hours of video footage and thousands of photographs to identify what is best for use, in both the exhibition and the final submission. Mrs Shaw has worked closely with Dominican College and their pupils who provided mentoring and support for the making stage of our project, has written this month’s blog and helped to organise the exhibition.


The Legacy of the Project


On Tuesday 14th March, the Board of Governors from both schools met to see how the legacy of this project could be maximised and to ensure that the opportunities initiated by the Marvellous Movers project can be sustained. They were very enthusiastic about the project and discussed a variety of different options for the future.


“I’m delighted to see the Governors show such interest in creating regular activities between the schools. Now that such good friendships and working relationships have been established between staff and pupils it would be such a shame to lose momentum”.

(Mr. Millar, Principal of Portstewart Primary School)


Coming up in next month’s blog…


Coverage of the final exhibition


Evaluation of the entire project