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Inverclyde pupils compete in outreach day to mark James Watt anniversary

View of John Anderson Campus from the north

Pupils from the birthplace of inventor James Watt gathered at the University of Strathclyde for a special outreach event to celebrate his legacy and inspire the next generation of engineers.

Almost exactly two centuries since his death on August 25, 1819, a group of S4 students from across four Inverclyde schools took part in an activity day.

Working in teams, the pupils from Clydeview Academy in Gourock, Inverclyde Academy and Notre Dame High School in Greenock, and St Stephens High School in Port Glasgow, were asked to design and build a balloon powered vehicle.

Pupils holding a balloon powered model

Using simple materials like cardboard, balloons, sellotape, straws and skewers, the teams vied to make their vehicle faster and able to travel further than their competitors.

The potential engineers had to consider things that might affect the motion of their vehicle, including the size and material of wheels and the width and shape, with the only restriction a minimum distance it should travel.

Project lead, Dr Avril Thomson, from Design, Manufacturing and Engineering Management, said:

This event celebrates the 200th anniversary of James Watt by inspiring the next generation of engineers and engaging young people from his birthplace to explore engineering innovation in a practical way.”

Watt was born in William Street, Greenock, on January 19, 1736 and contributed to the development of the steam-engine, the creation of the world’s first commercial copying machine and to the understanding of energy, gases and electricity.

 His improvements to the steam engine drove the Industrial Revolution and a unit of power was named a watt in his honour.