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Plain sailing for Gourock primary students, as CalMac experts make an educational visit

A group of around 50 primary 7 students at St Ninian's Primary School in Gourock have been treated to a morning of life on the ocean waves - without even leaving the classroom.

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Three members of staff from Caledonian MacBrayne went along to the school to help out in one of the school's science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) classes under the watchful eye of teachers Mrs Munro and Mrs Coyle.

The fun lessons were packed with information about CalMac's network and boats, as well as talks and practical demonstrations about engineering and navigation - and the visit coincided with the 281st birthday of Greenock's world famous engineer, James Watt.

CalMac's crew resources manager Jane Dolan, marine manager and ship's master Captain Lachie Wotherspoon and chief engineer Daniel Barton all helped the children to understand more about the engineering and science applied at sea, as well as their jobs and what inspired them to pursue their various careers.

After a general talk to the pupils about CalMac, Daniel chatted about Charles Parsons who invented the compound steam turbine - the first passenger ship with a steam turbine was built on the Clyde at Denny's in Dumbarton in 1901 - before carrying out a couple of experiments looking at a steam engine and how Archimedes Theory of Buoyancy works. Lachie then showed them some charts and explained the principles of safe navigation while operating in a number of CalMac's areas.

The morning's events were rounded off with the opportunity to try on life jackets and the ever-popular captain's hat.

"The children were great fun to work with," said Captain Wotherspoon. "They were thoroughly engaged throughout and a pleasure to chat to."

"The experiments we carried out all help with elements of the STEM curriculum," continued Daniel. "I was so pleased to see how interested they were - I took a steam engine model with me and ran it for them. James Watt came from this area, so it seemed appropriate."

Head teacher of St Ninian's, Lesley McCabe, said: "This valuable STEM experience with CalMac has helped to achieve connectivity and cooperation between education and the world of work."

Pictures show:

Captain Lachie Wotherspoon chats to the pupils about navigation

A young CalMac fan tries out the captain's hat for fit

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