Saturday, 28 August 2010

Highland Schools Tour 2010 Winds Down

Day 6 - Portree to Aberdeen
Distance travelled = 232.1 miles = 373.5 km

In total, lectures delivered to ~733 pupils.

After one week on the road, eight lectures in five schools spanning the Highlands, one problem-solving day, a few (intentional!) explosions, being eaten alive by midges, discovering the square sausage, over 15 hours of unloading/loading the van, pushing our new equipment (and the royal mail's delivery times!) to the limit and back, and some warm receptions, the Highland Schools Tour has finished... Until 2011!

We hope the lectures have proved informative and inspirational as well as introducing the annual TechFest in September science festival. The feedback we've received so far is positive and great to hear.

Thanks to all the teachers and pupils at the five High Schools, and to Julius, Kelly, Derek, Gorry, Aileen, Kitty, Alex (Two Lochs FM) and many others for their parts in making this year's Tour a success! :-)

On the journey back to Aberdeen...

... we stopped for lunch in Grantown on Spey; a normally sleepy town. Today it was hosting the annual 'Thunder in the Glens' welcoming over 1500 Harley Davidson motorcycles into town.

OK, so that's enough from us.

One quick reminder though - if you're from Kinlochbervie, Ullapool, Gairloch, Plockton or Portree High Schools don't forget to submit your entries for the Highland Schools 2010 Challenge ASAP.

Good luck and goodbye!

Friday, 27 August 2010

Highland Schools Tour - Radio Interview on 'Two Lochs FM'

Heard from Alex Gray (Chief Engineer, Chairman and presenter of 'Two Lochs' local radio in Gairloch).

Here are a couple of piccies from our time recording inside the station... Along with a clip of our interview that went out on the air waves. Enjoy! :-)

Highland Schools Tour Finale in Portree!

Day 5 - Portree

Really impressive school (only 2 years old) and great venue - super-high tech - and warm reception from Mr Breen and the Deputy Head.

Largest audiences yet at Portree High School; our lectures were delivered to approx half the school (~300 pupils) from S1 through to S4.

Equipment held out well, with our brand new pedal-o-meter and teacher trap surviving the whole Tour!

Heavy rain delayed packing up and loading the van for the final time. Now back on the road and spending our final evening in Broadford.

Highland Schools Tour Heads to the Islands

Day 4 - Plockton to Portree
Distance travelled = 38.0 miles = 61.2 km

In a break from the usual format, after our lecture...

... we ended up being guest judges at Plockton High School's ''Annual Energy Problem-Solving Day'', featuring local press coverage.

The students were tasked with building working, model wind turbines in groups and subjecting their models to the earthquake and wind tunnel tests...

...Thanks to Mr Kean and congratulations to group #8! :-)

Got a really positive response from the school and Headmaster at Plockton (who sat in on our lecture) - a great boost!

Set off for Portree...

Now arrived ahead of the final day of lectures tomorrow, as the Tour draws to a close... for this year.

I'm in the attic of the Pink Guest House at Portree, just on the harbour. Meanwhile, Ken's camping out in the local driving instructor's spare room. Random!

Had a few probs with internet access at the Portree guesthouse when trying to submit this blog entry on the actual night (26th August). Hence the 1-day delay...

Profile: Julius Bwesigye

Name: Julius Bwesigye

Start Date: 1st December 2009

Project/area: Technology for the people, by the people

Favourite biscuit? The round ones?

Favourite place? Kabale

Favourite word? Hope

Twitter? Facebook? Other? Linkedin and Linkedout (Facebook)

iPhone? Blackberry? Other? Blackberry

What can you not live without? Music

Which character from film, television or literature most resembles you? Dave Chappelle. (And like him, I used to be funny)

If you weren't working at dot.rural, what would you be doing? Trying to manufacture expanded metal mesh

Use ten words to describe ten different dot.rural colleagues: driven, adventurous, brilliant, fun, thoughtful, jovial, kind, multi-talented, innovative, refreshing

Is there anything we don't already know about you? Founded, and I have 3 goats

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Gairloch High and 5 Minutes of Fame on 'Two Lochs' Local Radio!

Day 3 - Gairloch to Plockton
Distance travelled = 62.2 miles = 100.1 km

Our replacement 'key' components arrived at Gairloch High School ahead of our arrival. Managed to fit them before the day's lectures - we're back in business! Thanks again to Derek Logan (Fraser Noble electronics workshop) and Gorry Fairhurst (dot.rural Engineering Co-Investigator) for their emergency assistance.

Fantastic classes at Gairloch today. Total audience ~180 of super enthusiastic pupils delivering very positive feedback to us via their Physics teacher Mrs McRae :-)

In between lectures we were invited to the local radio station a few hundred metres along the Loch from the school (Two Lochs Radio - Britain's smallest commercial radio station, 106 and 106.6 FM).

Alex Gray the station manager, chief radio engineer, one of many volunteers, and the presenter interviewed us for a 'guest slot' (to be aired tomorrow morning). For more info, check out:

Arrived in picturesque Plockton tonight ahead of tomorrow's packed schedule of our lectures and Plockton High School's 'Annual Energy Problem-Solving Day'.

Profile: Lisa Thomson

Name: Lisa Thomson

Start Date: 23rd Oct 2009

Project/area: Management (boo!)

Favourite biscuit? has to be milk chocolate digestives

Favourite place? Hazlehead Park, Aberdeen on a sunny day

Favourite word? Toots - that's what I call my kids

Twitter? Facebook? Other? I'm on facebook and linkedin but not really up with the social/business networking yet

iPhone? Blackberry? Other? Was HTC until recently - now an iPhone4 - and no I don't have any reception issues

What can you not live without? apart from chocolate, I would have to say music - keeps me sane

Which character from film, television or literature most resembles you? Not got a clue! I have been compared to Little Miss Neat (from the Mister Men and Little Miss books) - does that count?

If you weren't working at dot.rural, what would you be doing? Running my own business or driving fast cars - or both!

Use ten words to describe a dot.rural colleague (without naming names): friendly, chatty, considerate, funny, honest, helpful, happy, hard-working, sociable, gregarious

Is there anything we don't already know about you? When I was 8 yrs old I had to stop eating chocolate as I had stomach migraines from the cocoa. I became sick fed up of fruit pastilles and opal fruits but thankfully grew out of the migraines. I am still making up for those lost years - see favourite biscuit and cannot live without comments!

Profile: Jennie Dick

Name: Jennie Dick

Start date: 1st October 2009

Project/area: Research Administrator

Favourite biscuit? Oreo dipped in ice cold milk or a plain choc digestive

Favourite place? Morar

Favourite word? Flabergasted

Twitter? Facebook? Other? Facebook

iPhone? Fits an iPhone?

What can you not live without? My daughter she keeps me on the straight and narrow (whether I want to be there or not!!)

Which character from film or television most resembles you? Judge Judy :)

If you weren't working at dot.rural, what would you be doing? Horseriding

Use ten words to describe Ten dot.rural colleagues (without naming names): Pernickity, tenacious, fair, enthusiastic, willful, ambitious, talkative, hardworking, late, lovely

Is there anything we don't already know about you? I am a Qualified Reflexologist

The first thing I'd rescue in a fire is (if alone in the house) Photographs

Profile: Aileen Johnston

Name: Aileen Johnston
Start Date: 1st October 2009
Position: Secretary (Office Mum)
Favourite Biscuit: Bourbons or Custard Creams I could seriously eat whole packs at a time which is why I never buy them!
Favourite Place: It's between North Uist in the Outer Hebridies and anywhere in London. I know they are completely different from each other but that's why I love them so much.
Favourite Word: Knackered because 90% of the time I am.
Twitter? Facebook? Other? Because of my last job I am on everything going but I really only use Facebook and am mildly obsessed with it.
iPhone? Blackberry? Other? iPhone but I wish I had never given up my Blackberry.
What can you not live without?: Really really good food! I love all kinds of food and spend most of my weekends trying out new restaurants or persuading my husband to cook something that I have seen on one of the many cookery programmes I watch!
Which character from film, tv or literature most resembles you? I have absolutely no idea! Please feel free to leave in the comments section if you have any ideas.
If you weren't working at dot.rural what would you be doing? If money was no object I would be travelling round the world with my husband visiting all our friends and family who are scattered all over the place. If that was not an option, I would like to go back to Uni to become a midwife.
Use ten words to describe a dot.rural colleague(without naming names): Intelligent, Kind, Funny, Quiet, Friendly, Motivated, Patient, Ambitious, Unassuming, Well Mannered.
Is there anything we don't already know about you?: Probably not as I like to tell everybody everything about me whether they want to know or not! If anyone has any burning desire to know more then feel free to just ask!

Profile: Ruth Wilson

Name: Ruth Wilson

Start date: 1 July 2010

Project/area: Enterprise & culture: doing a PhD in social networking in rural communities.

Favourite biscuit? United biscuits are no longer available so I'll go for M&S all butter chocolate chip cookies which are good dipped in tea, but Oreos and Choco Leibniz (milk) are also high up on the list.

Favourite place? Easdale.

Favourite word? Pudding.

Twitter? Facebook? Other? Twitter and Facebook.

iPhone? Blackberry? Other? iPhone and an old Nokia.

What can you not live without? My Macbook.

Which character from film or television most resembles you? Elaine from Seinfeld or Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica.

If you weren't working at dot.rural, what would you be doing? Proofreading and web design, both of which I do on the side.

Use ten words to describe a dot.rural colleague (without naming names): eloquent, erudite, sprightly, dazzling, random, absurd, distracting, menacing, ludicrous, curious

Is there anything we don't already know about you? The first thing I'd rescue in a fire is Mousey, a toy I've had since the day I was born.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Highland Schools Tour: Warm Reception in Ullapool

Day 2 - Ullapool to Gairloch
Distance travelled = 55.5 miles = 89.3 km

Earlier today we were welcomed into Ullapool with a very enthusiastic crowd of S1-S2 students. A knowledgeable bunch, all itching to get involved with the demos (or 'volunteering' Mr H for the finale!).

On the way from Ullapool to Gairloch, saw some enormous trees...

...turns out they're Canadian Redwoods. Amazing.

Attempted to cross the deepest Gorge in the UK but (fortunately!) the suspension bridge was closed for 'maintenance'. Oh well...

Checked in to the Myrtle Bank Hotel with rooms overlooking Loch Gairloch. Stunning.

Swung by Gairloch High School in preparation for tomorrow's early start - another spectacular school roof.

Two lectures to deliver tomorrow, both with big audiences (>100).

Caught up with Ken's former colleagues from his research days at Glasgow University, talking shop.

Another successful dinner outing as Trout forces Salmon to Na Mara fish restaurant. Delicious! :-)

Monday, 23 August 2010

Energy Show Crackles into Kinlochbervie!

Day 1 - Kinlochbervie to Ullapool
Distance travelled = 60 miles = 96.6 km

After a great start in Kinlochbervie (two shows and we saw half the school S1 to S6)...

...we have headed down to Ullapool.

The lectures in Kinlochbervie were good, enthusiastic pupils, some quite opinionated with regards to issues around energy quotas and the like. One pupil so enthusiastic he managed to blow our brand new pedalometer. Thanks to Gorry, and Derek in Fraser Noble Workshop, we should see a spare part with us by Wednesday in Gairloch.

Tomorrow we improvise!! Everything's a challenge we guess. Ullapool seems to be looking forward to our visit. We kick off early tomorrow with an audience of 90 pupils from S1 upwards.

Tonight we again visited a fish restaurant (following yesterday's lunch AND dinner). Claire is mad on fish. Tomorrow I veto! (Claire says 'nooooooooo').

Thought for the day: What is the carbon footprint of striking a match?...

Ken and Claire (aka Salmon and Trout)

Profile: Gina Maffey

Name: Gina Maffey

Start date: 1st March 2010

Project/area: Looking into the potential for the use of technology as a tool for communication within deer management, part of the Natural Resource Conservation Theme.

Favourite biscuit? Without a doubt the hobnob, plain or with chocolate I'm not fussed!

Favourite place? The farm where I was brought up, especially at the beginning of Autumn

Favourite word? 'No worries' technically two words but it's probably the most used phrased in my vocabulary.

Twitter? Facebook? Other? Twitter... @ginazoo and facebook.

iPhone? Blackberry? Other? Other... Sony ericsson W980, I could do with upgrading.

What can you not live without? Music. If I could I'd have a personal soundtrack to my life.

Which character from film, television or literature most resembles you? I've been compared to Charlotte Church and Billie Piper... neither of which I can see... However, as a kid I think it was more me trying to immitate characters. In my time I have tried to be like George from 'The Famous Five,' Mary Lennox from 'The Secret Garden' and Lucy from 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe', along with many others.

If you weren't working at dot.rural, what would you be doing? Pursuing a job that involved being outside, abroad and most likely in the jungle.

Use ten words to describe a dot.rural colleague (without naming names): Motivated, Excitable, Organised, Intelligent, Passionate, Affable, Sociable, Modest, Diligent, Courteous.

Is there anything we don't already know about you? I continually make plans for things I would like to achieve, however from a young age four of these have never changed; To see moutain gorillas in Rwanda, to go to South Africa, to play the saxaphone and to meet David Attenborough. I have currently succeded in doing two of these!

Profile: Alasdair Mort

Name: Alasdair Mort

Start date: 11th Jan 2010

Project/area: Healthcare theme - currently working on MIME (Managing Information in Medical Emergencies)

Favourite biscuit? After much consideration and taste testing...the humble Bourbon

Favourite place? The Isle of Barra, Western Isles. My wife's family have a small cottage at the very northern tip of the island.

Favourite word? Soporific (so-por-if-ik: tending to induce drowsiness or sleep)

Twitter? Facebook? Other? I'm on Facebook.

iPhone? Blackberry? Other? Nokia 5800 smartphone.

What can you not live without? Coffee! Tried without it once and broke out in a cold sweat.

Which character from film, television or literature most resembles you? I have no idea! Someone once said I looked like Ewan MacGregor but I think they should have gone to Specsavers.

If you weren't working at dot.rural, what would you be doing? Full-time dad, badminton coach or working for a voluntary organisation.

Use ten words to describe a dot.rural colleague (without naming names): Exuberant, energetic, dynamic, happy, considered, braw, skilled, daredevil, wise, whirlwind.

Is there anything we don't already know about you? I'm a qualified badminton coach registered with Badminton Scotland.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Highland Schools Tour Kicks Off!

Day 0 - Aberdeen to Kinlochbervie
Distance travelled= 196.8 miles = 316.7 km

We arrived in Kinlochbervie late this afternoon after a long trip up from Aberdeen and some precarious roads!

First stop - we checked out the High School. It looks great with a distinctive roof! :-)

We're staying at the Kinlochbervie Hotel where we're sitting right now, writing this and making some last minute tweaks (eek!) to our lecture.

On the trip up we noted a few examples of renewable energy in action and sensing technologies. This will link in nicely with our lecture tomorrow - giving it a local slant.

Something else we noticed whilst travelling on the local roads and using the vast amounts of passing places was how incredibly friendly all the locals are! Everyone seems very smiley... A good sign for tomorrow!

On arrival today we visited the nearby Smoo Cave. Highly recommend this - v. dramatic!

After dinner tonight we're all 'fished out'.