HIGH school pupils in the Capital have manufactured a solar-powered water heater which will be transported more than 1000 miles to help vulnerable children in Central Europe.
Designed by youngsters at Castlebrae Community High, the pump will ensure an education centre in Bulgaria receives hot water.
Staff and parents at the school – which nearly closed amid poor exam results and falling rolls – said they were proud of the pupils.
The device is set to be installed over the summer at Yovovtsi Educational Eco-Centre in Bulgaria’s Bulgarka natural park, where staff work to boost opportunities for orphaned and underprivileged children.
Castlebrae design and technology teacher Stewart Allen said he and his students took on the project after hearing about the centre’s struggle to secure a reliable water supply.
He said: “The initial idea came after meeting a friend last year who runs a charity in Bulgaria. They have water problems and after some discussion with the students it was agreed they would make this as their final project.”
Castlebrae’s heater works thanks to a series of panels designed to absorb solar heat.
This is used to warm up a glycol and water mix contained within the device, which is then pumped through an internal coil so that heat can be transferred to domestic water.
Mr Allen said successful completion of the project reflected a fresh focus on science, with Castlebrae Community High gearing up to become a city-wide centre of excellence in technical subjects.
“Recently the Scottish Government has been pushing the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) agenda in high schools due to the shortage of engineers in industry,” he said.
“This project fitted into STEM perfectly, with students having to work out the panel dimensions to suit the copper cylinder we had available and determine the efficiency of the completed system.”
He added: “Existing technology was researched into materials and components. It was my hope that the 3D printer in the department might be used somewhere in the manufacture stages but this wasn’t possible.”
Mr Allen – whose team was helped by SSE engineer Ollie Epsom – will travel to Bulgaria on July 3 to assist with installation of the heater.
The device was built as part of the S4-6 main engineering project at National 5 level, with officials at the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) awarding it a pass earlier this year.
Parent leaders said the pupils’ success was evidence of a renewed “can do” attitude at the school. Susan Heron, vice-chair of Castlebrae’s parent council, said: “It’s good for them to become aware of what’s going on in different parts of the world.
“I think their desire to learn is growing anyway, with the turnaround at the school that’s happened. I think it helps their confidence and belief in themselves that they can achieve something as good as that. People here are immensely proud of the pupils.”