Girls scoop all four top Young Scientist awards
The girls have knocked the boys off their long-standing perch as top dogs at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition at least for 2013. Females have captured all four top prizes, including that of the young scientists for 2013, best individual award and runner-up individual and group awards.
Minister for Education and Skills Ruairí Quinn presented the four awards, praising the students and their teachers for their hard work and commitment.
Ciara Judge, Emer Hickey and Sophie Healy-Thow from Kinsale Community School, Cork, led the way as the young scientists of the year for 2013.
The third-year students were all old pros at the exhibition with Emer having been here once before, Sophie twice before and Ciara three times, including a visit as a primary school pupil.
They completed a detailed statistical study of whether a certain type of bacterium, rhizobium, could affect the germination of important crops such as wheat and barley. The bacteria grow readily with legume plants, helping them by releasing nutrients.
Far from hindering germination in wheat and barley, they found that it boosted the speed of germination and believe the use of these bacteria could improve plant growth. They received a perpetual trophy, a cheque for €5,000 and an opportunity to represent Ireland at the next European Union Contest for Young Scientists this autumn in Prague.
Ciara, Emer and Sophie were in complete shock when the announcement was made. “We can’t believe it,” Emer said immediately afterwards.
Edel Browne (15) of Presentation College, Athenry, Co Galway, was the worthy recipient of the best individual award for inventing a device that can help people with Parkinson’s disease walk more smoothly. She developed a simple laser pointer device that can be attached to the patient’s shoes, giving them a target to focus on in front of them, in the process improving gait.
Her award includes a BT perpetual trophy and €2,400, and she also believes that her invention has commercial possibilities.
The project by Deirdre Ruane-McAteer and Emma Shields of Bush Post Primary school, Co Louth, won the runner-up group award, a detailed statistical analysis of the views and opinions of students on both sides of the Border on issues such as abortion and religious belief.
They found the 16- to 18-year-old subjects responded very differently on abortion and the importance of religion. Those north of the Border took a much more conservative line than those in the South, the girls found. As runners-up they received a trophy and a cheque for €1,200.
The runner-up individual award winner was Shauna O’Neill of Meán Scoil Muire gan Smál, Roscommon. She conducted a highly complex and exhaustive study of how water can be changed after exposure to powerful magnetic fields. She takes home a trophy and a cheque for €1,200.