100 Schoolchildren Celebrate New Mini Canal

The Falkirk Wheel to Have Major New Educational and Visitor Attraction

29 Sep 2010

One hundred local schoolchildren launched a paper boat on The Falkirk Wheel today (Wednesday 29th September) to celebrate the forthcoming start of construction on a mini canal and outdoor classroom at the world's only rotating boatlift.

Work on the £320,000 project which has been developed by British Waterways Scotland and The Waterways Trust Scotland with main funding contribution from Avondale Environmental through the Landfill Communities Fund and additional support from The Veolia Environmental Trust, will start in October. It is anticipated that the official opening will take place in April 2011.

The 30 metre long mini canal, which will be situated adjacent to the basin at The Falkirk Wheel, will take a playful and educational look at how communities around the world source and move water.

Pertinently, this focus on educating the young about the importance and potential of water comes at a time when Scotland is leading the world in water renewables and new experts will be increasingly in demand to sustain this momentum over coming years.

Linking into the Curriculum for Excellence, the new mini canal will be evocative of the Union and Forth & Clyde Canals and include a micro version of The Falkirk Wheel which links the two canals which, together, extend from east to west coasts, Edinburgh to Glasgow.

As well as the mini Falkirk Wheel, an Archimedes Screw will demonstrate the principles of hydraulics, fluid statics or water movement and displacement which were discovered by the third century Greek physicist, mathematician, engineer and inventor.

Visitors will be able to launch a boat on the mini Falkirk Wheel, which, by using water displacement, only requires the electricity equivalent to heat eight kettles to make the half rotation necessary to transfer boats from one canal to another.

With glass fronted canal locks, the new mini waterway will show visitors how mechanical pumps and valves work in moving water around and show how Newton's Laws of Motion applies.

The new hands on equipment will also include a pedal bike which sucks up water for irrigation. This was designed by mechanical engineering students at the University of Strathclyde as part of a project to create water collection technology to aid communities in Malawi.

An outdoor classroom space will sit adjacent to the mini canal. This natural learning area will complement the network of pathways which extend around The Falkirk Wheel and up to the Antonine Wall, which itself is part of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site.

The new mini canal and outdoor classroom was designed by Mike Hyatt Landscape Architects.

Karen Moore, Development Director Scotland of The Waterways Trust Scotland, says:

"The new mini canal will give children and adults alike a really vibrant, hands on connection with The Falkirk Wheel and the Scottish canals. Children will be able to roll their sleeves up, launch a boat and have some fun whilst getting a solid scientific understanding of how we move water. We also plan, if funding allows, to include a sand area where children can then go on to dig and create their own canal or water channel.

"As well as introducing children to the science behind water movement, the new mini canal will give western children an insight into water collection in third world countries. There, children tend to be the main water gatherers and water is a scarce and highly valued resource. The mini canal, we hope, will show children here that, for many, getting vital water every day is not as easy as turning on a tap."

Alasdair Smart, Manager at The Falkirk Wheel, adds:

"The new mini canal will be a tremendous complement to our educational offer as well as extend and enhance the visitor experience for the half a million visitors we welcome to The Falkirk Wheel each year.

"The educational aspect is of particular importance to us. In February this year, we launched our new educational toolkit for Primary 3 -7 schoolchildren and the Mini Canal and Outdoor Classroom will further cement our commitment to making The Falkirk Wheel a great asset for teachers and schoolchildren across the central belt. The three elements together will create a well rounded indoor/outdoor educational experience which will deliver a fun day out, fire the imagination and give an interesting and hands on introduction to the science behind water movement on the Scottish canals and at The Falkirk Wheel."

This August, The Falkirk Wheel saw a record number of visitors registered in a single month since the internationally renowned attraction opened in 2002.

Some two million people visit the Scottish canals annually, making a total of 24.4 million trips.

During 2009, visitors to the Union Canal, which terminates at The Falkirk Wheel, almost hit the million mark.


                                  Issued by Joanna Harrison, Communications Manager,

                                                             British Waterways Scotland

                                          Telephone: 0141 354 7567 / Mobile:  07824 499180

Notes to Editors:

The Veolia Environmental Trust

The Veolia Environmental Trust has been supporting community and environmental projects for over 12 years. Under the Landfill Communities Fund, landfill site operators can donate a percentage, currently 5.5% of  their landfill tax payment to these projects.

Since the Trust was established in 1997, Veolia Environmental Services (UK) plc has supported it by contributions of £42 million to 1080 projects.

The Trust has helped fund a diverse range of projects, including the repair of woodland footpaths, the  renovation of community halls and the installation of playgrounds and play areas.

For more information, or to find out how to apply for funding, visit the Trust's website www.veoliatrust.org

Children will be able to roll their sleeves up, launch a boat and have some fun whilst getting a solid scientific understanding of how we move water.

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