On August 28th, five pupils from Charleston Academy‘s Bridge to Employment group travelled down to The Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) centre in Oban to get an insight as to what it is like working in an industrial research facility.
The group – Catherine Howie, James Hogan, Ryan Leslie, Blake Allan, and Steven Macleod – were taken on a tour around the facilities and were able to see many of the experiments that were being carried out by the scientists there. These included research into; ocean dynamics (monitoring ocean currents and the effect they have on climate change), deep sea discovery (one of the guest speakers had recently discovered several new species of marine life in the Indian ocean), ocean acidification (the scientists involved in this will go to California to present their results to an international audience) and a study into how man-made objects (such as the legs of an oil-rig) can affect the marine life of the oceans. Although it was a rainy day, and the bus was delayed due to a landslide, spirits were not dampened as the pupils had the opportunity to get talk to the scientists at the facility and catch up with pupils from the other schools undertaking the programme. The pupils were also able to get “hands-on” with some of the equipment used in what was an enjoyable day for all those involved.
On Tuesday 4th September the Bridge to Employment group set off at 8am for the journey to Thurso. We were split in to three groups to tour round the three different aspects of the ERI and ETECH facilities.
The three sections were: Ecology, Analytical Chemistry, and Engineering
During the analytical chemistry lab we used chromatography, a technique used to analyse environmental toxicity. We separated the dye in inks to show that chemicals move at different rates due to their solubility and then we separated the photosynthetic pigments of spinach.
During the ecology lab we learned about how new species are named and then used a complex scientific key to identify 10 species of shell.
The ETECH building is newly opened and is used to train engineers, electricians and plumbers in the skills required to build marine renewable energy. We had the chance to build solar cells to power wind turbines.
Despite the long journey and the skylight of the bus coming off in a howling gale it was an enjoyable day and we had the chance to meet up with the other people from Bridge to Employment and ―get the banter‖!
Alan, Rhune, Peter, and Gillies, Bridge to Employment Pupils