Discovering our ancestors in ELP ICT…

In ELP ICT this term, the pupils have been investigating their family lineage and undertaking a project that is allowing them to develop and use a wide range of computing skills whilst finding out a little more about where they come from.

We began the initial work by watching a clip from a BBC iPlayer episode of Who Do You Think You Are? In this episode famous childrens’ author, JK Rowling, explored her own family background and allowed our young people to have a simple discussion around the topic and disclose to the group what they already knew about family trees.

Our next task was to make a start on our own family tree building! Each pupil was given a basic template to take home and get parental support in completing the basic building blocks of their own ancestral line. Each family group completed a skeleton tree with details on grandparents name and dates of birth – and great grandparents if this information was to hand. Some families were also able to provide information about a further generation back.

This information was going to be used by each pupil to input data into an online family tree generator. Each student created their own online account using their school email address. Those who needed support to do this were assisted by an adult. Then data was entered into their respective trees and saved for use later on in this process.

Our next task was to find out more about our names. First of all we used online heraldry and ancestry sites to search for each of our respective surnames. We found out –

  • what our surname meant
  • where it came from
  • what its distribution in the UK was in 1880
  • whether it had a coat of arms, a clan, a tartan or a motto

Each pupil generated a MS Word document to record this information.

We then moved on to looking at first names. Each pupil was set homework to find out why they were given the name they have. They were to pay particular attention to –

  • whether they were named after a relative
  • whether they were named after someone famous
  • whether they were simply given the name because it was nice
  • whether they were given the name for any other pertinent reason

We soon discovered that our youngsters have a wide range of reasons for their first names being what they are! Two were named after someone famous, two were named after relatives and one got their name because their mum just liked it.

We also spent time using online resources to find out about the origin of each of the names. We looked for

  • country of origin
  • whether it has different forms in different languages
  • whether there was any other information about the evolution of the name
  • what the name means

Again, pupils used MS Word to create a document containing all of this important information. We had lots of fun finding out about the origins of our names – one of us has a name meaning “lion”, another has a name meaning “king” and someone else has a name meaning “stretch of water”. We also discovered the name Fiona means “ogre from Shrek”…or something like that 😉

Our next task was to look at family coats of arms in a little more detail. Each pupil was asked to find out what components there were in their respective coat of arms. They were then asked to use this information in conjunction with information about their own interests and background to create a more modern coat of arms for themselves! Using an online software template to build our own coat of arms, each pupil came up with a colourful and meaningful emblem for themselves. They included

  • a coat of arms with a Tardis, Darth Vader, Irish emblems and green flashes
  • a coat of arms with a Playstation, a cat, Hearts badge and a hill
  • a coat of arms with X Factor symbols, musical connotations and a meadow
  • a coat of arms with a hammer, a Playstation and a television

Each coat of arms was then transformed using appropriate colours – if the name had Irish origins, for example, the pupils opted for green chevrons or flashes. We then stored them for inclusion in our final family tree…

This week the pupils are going to start digging a little deeper into their family histories. Using information we have about great grandparents and other relatives born or alive before 1911, we will be using the online resource to look further back into our family history. We will be trying to use birth records, census records, marriage records and death records to establish

  • where our ancestors lived
  • who they lived with
  • what they did for a living
  • what they were called

We will use this information to extend our current trees and create a better picture of where we came from… 


Aiming to ELP on Friday with Red Nose Day Bake Sale…

On Friday 15th March, the ELP pupils will be selling Red Nose baking to raise money for Comic Relief. We will be coming round classes during Period 2 and hoping to sell lots of goodies in aid of the charity. Having a Bake Sale is one of the 7 activities you can do to raise money. Why not check out the Comic Relief website for more information about how to do something funny for money?

We hope you will ELP our efforts by buying something from us on Friday – please bring lots of change to school!

In the meantime, here’s One Direction to help explain a little more!

Senior ELP Science finding out how to make pictures using only 3 colours of light…

Have you ever wondered how your television screen shows such wonderful pictures? Did you realise that these pictures are made using only three colours of light in the first place?


Here is a close up of a television screen. You can clearly see the three colours it uses to generate other colours – and therefore pictures. The 3 main colours are

  • red
  • blue
  • green

By mixing red and green you can make yellow light. By mixing red and blue you can make magenta light (pinky colour). By mixing blue and green you can make cyan (turquoisy colour). By mixing red, green and blue light all together at the same time you can make white light!

This is the basis for making coloured pictures on the television screen.

The process for making colour described above is known as additive colour mixing. Additive mixing happens when coloured light is superimposed to make new colours. This can happen by projecting different coloured lights on top of one another, by flashing the lights so quickly we can’t see the individual colours, or by making adjacent patches of the colours so small that they blur together in our eyes. It is this last technique (small dots of light) that is most often used in colour televisions. There are other important parts of making colour television work. These include breaking the picture up into small spots of light, called pixels.

Senior ELP Science pupils tune in to television and radio…

 Episode One – “How do televisions and radios work?”

As part of the Senior ELP Science programme we have been learning about how televisions and radios work. This is part of an Intermediate I Physics unit we are undertaking but we are also just very interested in what goes on “inside the box”.



We have been discovering that radios have 6 important parts. They are shown here

The aerial collects signals sent from far away. The tuner helps you choose the right frequency/station. The decoder helps change that into a signal that is sent to the amplifier to be made stronger. The loudspeaker turns that signal into sound. All of this needs a power supply to make it work.


A television is a lot like a radio but it has two jobs to do – it has to produce pictures as well as sound. This means it has more important parts. They are shown below:

Just like the radio, it has an aerial to collect signal from far away. It also has a tuner to select the correct frequency/channel. However, the television has two decoders – one for sound and one for pictures. It also has two amplifiers – one for sound and one for pictures. The television has only one loudspeaker to turn the signal into soundwaves we can hear. It also has a tv tube which turns the vision signal into pictures on a screen. The television needs mains electricity to work. This is different to the radio which can be run on batteries.

 Tune in next time for…

“Episode Two – How do we make pictures using only 3 colours of light?”


Script  David Tracey

Director  Rachael Baillie

Producer Mrs Binnie

With thanks to Dr Voge

ELP Burns Blog report by Ben and David…

The ELPs have been finding out about Robert Burns.

Robert Burns was born in 1759 on January 25th. He is Scotland’s most famous poet. He wrote famous poems such as “To a mouse” and “My love is like a red red rose”. His most famous song is “Auld Lang Syne” which is sung at New Year.

Here is a link to a short film about Burns. It only takes 3 minutes to watch so why not spend a little time learning something new about our most famous poet?

Ben and David

Beaming smiles as we go back in time…

A group of Preston Lodge youngsters visited Beamish living museum yesterday and had a fantastic time learning all about the past through this wonderful interactive attraction. We enjoyed spending time in a Victorian classroom where Seemis was not a problem as attendance was logged in chalk on a board on the wall and children sat 90 to a classroom like sardines in a tin…scared to speak and ruled with a rod of iron. Some of our youngsters found out, to their peril, how a Victorian teacher would address young men who were not in class when they ought to be!

Next stop was a tram ride and a chance to find out how Edinburgh might be if it finally gets back to the future 😉

We moved on to the miner’s village and had a nose around the houses belonging to the members of the community. We got a fascinating insight into the ablutions, diet and sleeping arrangements in a typical mining cottage of the time…

Here we have a member of the mining community showing us how they would make their daily bread supplies. After lunch we moved on to look at the main town centre where we visited the vaults in the bank, the habedasherers, the lodge, a sweetie factory and the Cooperative! In this photograph some of our pupils are being shown bank notes and coins dating back to 1912…before descending down into the bank vaults.

We finished our trip late in the afternoon with a visit to the farm where we were able to spend some time looking at the animals and sit having an orange juice in the sun!


This week we have been thinking about what it means to be feeling confused.

We started the lesson by being asked to close our eyes and put out our hands. We were being set the challenge of working out what an object was using only the senses smell and touch. The item we were asked to identify was passed from pupil to pupil and all held onto their own thoughts about what they suspected the object might be. Once all members of the class had been afforded the opportunity to touch and smell our unknown item we went round the group asking for ideas…

“Apple”. “Apple”. “Apple”. “Orange”.

These were the responses of the ELP Jury. On being asked why each had come to this conclusion the responses were…

“It felt like and had the smell of an apple”.

“I could smell apple”.

“It was the size of an apple and it had an apple smell”.

“It felt like and had the smell of an orange”.

How could this be? Everyone was very confused. Those who all thought it was an apple were confused that anyone could possibly think the object was an orange. The person who was certain it was an orange was equally stunned that anyone could possibly think the object was an apple. They were also incredibly brave in saying something that was so obviously against the flow of thought of the majority!

We decided to do the exercise again – just to make sure.

Once more we passed the object round. Once more we felt it and had a sniff. Again we made judgement calls as to what the object might be.

“Apple”. “Apple”. “Apple”. “Orange”.

This time we were asked to open our eyes and tell each other how we felt.

“I am a bit!” said one pupil.

“It is an apple so I don’t know why someone thinks its an orange. I am confused!”

Confusion most certainly reigned.

We revealed to all what had been going on…

An apple wrapped in tin foil was produced for all to have a look at. Yes, there had been an apple being passed round the group! One face fell whilst others looked relieved. At this point another tin foil wrapped object was produced from behind the back of Mrs B. This time it was a chocolate ORANGE!

We quickly worked out that whilst most of us had indeed been passed an apple covered in tin foil to identify, one unsuspecting individual had been given a chocolate orange instead. All of the responses during the activities had been valid and correct!

We had an interesting chat about the activity – what had been confusing, what had been challenging and why it had actually been really brave of our orange pupil to say what they thought when all around were saying something quite different. We discussed how being confused makes us feel – and what situations arise to make us feel this way.

Using our character Muddled Mike we made up our own story about feeling confused, each taking turns to make Muddled Mike muddled. Finally, we discussed what strategies we might employ to help us manage confusion…

  • we could use our planners to help us remember homework or trips
  • we could ask for help from someone we trust or someone who is an expert
  • we could plan ahead for any new event – preparing ourselves for change
  • we could use a timetable to help us know where to be and at what time
  • we could practise doing difficult things

and many more interesting and excellent ideas!

By the end of the lesson we felt a lot less “!”

Well done Mindy and Dale!


Mindy the Hearing Dog who works with Dale for the charity

Preston Lodge is delighted to hear the exciting news that one of our pupils work with Hearing Dogs for the Deaf has been acknowledged nationally (in indirect fashion).

Mindy, a top class Hearing Dog for the Deaf, belongs to a lady called Margaret Scott. Mrs Scott is the grandmother of Dale, one of our many outstanding ELP pupils. Dale and Mrs Scott both do voluntary work on a Sunday at the local Hearing Dog for the Deaf shop in Musselburgh – accompanied by special dog Mindy.

Mrs Scott has a hearing difficulty and needs the help of Mindy to lead a full life. Dale is always keen to help his Gran and work with Mindy as he volunteers for this worthy charity. So he was rightly over the moon when he found out that the family Hearing Dog had won a national award! The Hearing Dog of the Month for June 2010 is Mindy!

Dale took great pride in directing us to the Hearing Dog website where the announcement about Mindy’s award was publicised and we spent a lovely lesson finding out more about the charity, Dale’s work with Mrs Scott and Mindy and the importance of dogs like this to the lives of deaf people.

As a class we made a comic strip heralding the news of this lovely recognition.

Everyone in this school is very proud of our pupils and the many fantastic things they do for their community – no more so than of this young man. Well done Dale!

Jorvik Centre Trip Update…

It is now only 3 weeks until Mrs Todd and Mrs Binnie take the Senior ELP curricular trip to the Jorvik Centre in York. All senior ELPs have been invited to take the unique opportunity to enter into the mysterious world of the Vikings at this world famous attraction in the city’s Coppergate.

We have managed to keep costs as low as possible by booking train tickets in advance and using rail cards but we are now in the final week for any outstanding payments to be made and we would be grateful if all outstanding monies could be forwarded to Mrs B by the end of the week (14th May). If there are any concerns or difficulties please shout…

Our trip to the Jorvik Centre comes as part of our curricular studies for this session. We have studied the Vikings in great detail in our Social Subjects lesson and we already know a fair bit about their lives, traditions and history. However, we understand that this “scratch and sniff” experience at the Jorvik will help bring much of what we have learned to life…lets hope we don’t get chased out of town by hairy, growling creatures with horns on their heads!

Full itinerary details will be forwarded to the pupils involved in this trip in the coming week. Please can parents note that this is a trip for Senior ELPs only – an alternative exciting curricular related  activity is being run for our Junior ELPs on the same day…more news about that later!

Science leaves us breathless…


As part of our Science curriculum in S3 we have been undertaking a series of lessons on Health and Technology. We have been investigating how the body works – especially the heart and lungs. We have been finding out how to give somebody a simple health MOT – and practised this on staff. We have increased our understanding of the effect of poor diet, pollution and unhealthy practises on our well being – and overlapped this nicely with our ELP Health lessons elsewhere in the curriculum.

One aspect of Health and Technology we have covered of late is smoking and its impact on your health…

Click on the above link and you will find a summary sheet that covers most aspects of the work undertaken in the classroom on smoking. As part of these lessons the pupils were challenged with as much independent research as they could manage, including doing some work at home finding out who smokes, what makes smoking so addictive and the things that can be affected adversely by smoking.

We were very impressed with the amount of prior knowledge and detail in the independent research with parents. In addition to this we considered the impact of smoking on particular groups in society…

  • what would be the effect on pregnant women and their babies?
  • would someone like Ussain Bolt smoke and what difference would it make to his performance?
  • why do young people smoke and is it really cool?

We had differentiated learning targets that varied from being able to state that smoking can make you unwell through to being able to state that carbon monoxide prevents blood carrying enough oxygen round the body – or to babies inside their pregnant mums.

We also linked all of this work back into the lungs lessons – in particular to the work we have already done looking at the effect of exercise on our health and breathing rate.