Berwickshire High pupils learn paper making skills at Ahlstrom

Berwickshire High School staff and students visiting Ahlstrom
Berwickshire High School staff and students visiting Ahlstrom

THE practical application of science in the world of work was explored by 18 Berwickshire High School pupils when the visited the Ahlstrom paper mill at Chirnside.

The students have been learning about how to make paper in their biology lessons and visiting Ahlstrom helped the students learn about how science contributes to industry.

For a week before their visit the pupils had a go at creating their own paper using a pulp provided by Ahlstrom.

The paper was made by placing the pulp into water and then dipping in something called a deckle (also supplied by Ahlstrom) to mould it. They then removed as much water as possible and left it to dry.

Pupils tried several different techniques and came up with many unusual ideas. Some pupils even created their own inventions using scents and flowers. One group put seeds into their paper, with hopes of a new breakthrough in farming! 

Whilst at Ahlstrom the students were told about the history of the paper plant going back to the 1600s. The site was chosen for making paper because it has good water quality, sufficient transport routes and skilful workers.

Pupils were given a guided tour around the Chirnside plant that makes teabag paper and sausage casing paper.

Plant manager Stuart Nixon was asked if he thought it was good to have links between businesses and schools and he replied: “Yes, we are one of the biggest employers locally, so it is good to have connections with schools. Many employees have family working here with them or have children in Berwickshire High School so a strong link improves staff morale as well. When the company started 175 years ago, a community was built around Ahlstrom in Finland so we like to be community based.”

Another Ahlstrom employee, Mike Jones, added: “It is really important to help pupils see what a business like this involves and help them decide what to do after they leave school.”

Berwickshire High School appreciate the links with Ahlstrom, offering new opportunities to students to experience what businesses do. It is a great thing for both school and businesses and hopefully links will continue.