The Society worked with the teachers and helpers in the school towards giving these special youngsters a great year of exciting science activities.

We started the ball rolling by having a big Science day on Monday 1st September 2014 with the help of 7 STEM Ambassadors (courtesy of Science Connects and Dumfries House) and countless helpers and volunteers. During the day, the youngsters were thrilled by, amongst other things,  giant bubbles, funny liquids, stump rockets, intelligent Lego vehicles and electromagnetics.

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In addition STEM Ambassador Stuart Lyon told the youngsters about his eventful life as an engineer and aircraft pilot, and, Nick Martin from the Ayr AstronomicalSociety brought a special telescope  (Solarscope) to let the youngsters see sun flares in real time.

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The feedback from everyone involved was tremendous and what we achieved that day really made us all feel GREAT.

I would like to express my own personal thanks to everyone involved, including Willie Coffey MSP, Councillor Stephanie Primrose (Council Spokesperson for Lifelong Learning) and Graham Short (Executive Director of Educational and Social Services, East Ayrshire) who all came along to lend their support.

More Science at Willowbank

Following on from the successful Science Day in September 2014, the pupils have had three more specialised science sessions. The first on was in October when Mrs Suzanne McGeer came over from St Joseph's Secondary School to do a workshop with the pupils on Digestion. 


The second session was in December 2014 when Dr Karen Alexander from Dumfries House helped the pupils to do  very exciting and messy (!!)  experiments examining solids, liquids and gases.

The third one was in February 2015 when Mr Colin Barbour the national award winning physics teacher from St Joseph's Academy introduced the pupils to rocket forces.


The pupils then built their own bespoke rockets and launched them. Indeed some are still on the roof of Willowbank School!!!

The pupils are really taking to science and got great excitement from these sessions.

Space day at Willowbank, Monday 2nd March 2015

On Monday students from Willowbank School, Hillside School and Park School took part in a science fair organised by Willowbank School and KESS. The theme of the science event was astronomy and the pupils enjoyed a portable planetarium provided by the Scottish Dark Skies Observatory (SDSO) in Dalmellington. They were able to stargaze, watch constellations and even watch a short animated clip about a journey to the moon. The Ayrshire Astronomical Society brought along a variety of telescopes which allowed the students to look at different planets and the sun. Volunteer students from Glasgow and London Universities also helped the pupils conduct hands on experiments which explored gravity and static electricity.




This event was funded by a grant from the Institute of Physics and was part of the Ayrshire Science and Engineering Festival 2015.

 Here is what Graham Short, Executive Director of Educational and Social Services, East Ayrshire Council had to say;"The Space Day was an extremely well organised event.  It brought resources and presenters into the school, for which access would have been difficult in normal circumstances.  The children clearly found the activities to be very stimulating.  For both young people and staff it provided an alternative approach to bring new content  into the school.  It is important for special schools that the community is involved in its activities, as was the case here.  Most importantly the event demonstrated in the clearest terms that the young people, and the work of the school are valued by the community, and that everyone has the highest positive expectations about the learning in the establishment.  The Space Day therefore fulfilled​  a number of very worthwhile objectives at the heart of additional support needs provision".


3rd Science Fair at Willowbank, Monday 16th March 2015



 Rockets, giant bubbles and active science experiments – the second Willowbank science event intwo weeks, organised by Kilmarnock Engineering and Science Society (KESS) and staff of Willowbank school, went off with a bang and a whizz and a pop!  The centre-piece of this event was the Glasgow Science Centre Outreach  Bodyworks exhibition whereby pupils from Willowbank, Hillside and Park Schools were encouraged to explore their endurance, strength and agility  in a scientific fashion in the  Fit Lab activity. Also STEM ambassadors, volunteers and staff of the Great Steward of Scotland Dumfries House Trust were on hand to deliver science activities including making lego robots, magnets, electricity from fruit and vegetables, launching rockets and exploring the science behind giant bubbles which were even bigger than the pupils. At the end of the event, each school received a science pack courtesy of the members of KESS. Each pack contained a series of exciting and appropriate scientific experiments and activities which will help teachers and staff at these schools carry out regular scientific activities with pupils in in years to come.

 Councillor Stephanie Primrose, Spokesperson for Promoting Lifelong Learning said: “The science event was wonderful fun for the young people. KESS and the Glasgow Science Centre delivered a fun filled event in partnership with teachers from the three special schools which encouraged our young people to look at life in a scientific way and learn more about the world around them.”

This event was funded by a grant from the British Science Association as part of British Science Week 2015.


Physics and Engineering Day at St Joseph’s Academy, Thursday 25th June 2015

The  4th Annual Physics and Engineering day was held recently at St Joseph’s Academy, Kilmarnock ,where third year pupils in East Ayrshire who had elected to study Physics were invited.  Accordingly around 120 students from Kilmarnock, St Joseph’s, Loudoun and Stewarton Academies attended this morning event organised by  St Joseph’s Academy and the Kilmarnock Engineering and Science Society (KESS).   The event commenced with a brief description of the relationship between science,  physics and engineering given by Professor Danny Gorman of KESS and was followed by the first of the two main speakers, John Bolton a former military and civil aircraft test pilot. In his lecture, John described  the close working collaboration and team working  between test pilots and engineers towards the design and safety of modern aircraft and the planning of “hair raising” test manoeuvres. He also surprised the students by divulging to them how he became a test pilot from being a university engineering graduate. The second lecture was delivered by Dr Matt Stickland, Senior Lecturer of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Strathclyde.  In his lecture he described what it was like to be a university student studying engineering; the topics they would cover, the design work they would undertake and the field trips including Formulae Student and Outward Bounds management and leadership training. He also suggested to the students how best they could prepare themselves for becoming an engineering student including the application process and the importance of Advanced Higher Maths ands Physics.