Following close in brother's footsteps


SCIENTIFIC endeavour clearly runs in the Fitzpatrick family. Last year Brian Fitzpatrick won the top award. This year his brother Brendan (17), was awarded second place in the individual young scientist prize.

Brendan, who attends Abbey Grammar School, Newry, Co Down, entered a biological project entitled "Devising a Photovoltaic Method of Assessing the Effect of Certain Plant Growth Regulations on Geotropism". The project measured the upward growth in plants when chemical growth regulators are applied.

He assembled a barrel sensor which could have practical applications in horticulture. "This could save a lot of time and money," explained Brendan.

The device could tell a farmer or horticulturist the exact time that the crop is ready. "During biology lessons I discovered there are a lot of unanswered questions about the geotropic mechanism so I decided to work on the topic."

He decided to enter after his brother's win last year. He spent six months working on the project and received assistance from Brian in the latter stages, as well as his teacher, Mr Gerard Hughes.

Following last year's competition win, Brian and his partner Shane Markey travelled to Newcastle in England to take part in the EU contest for Young Scientists last September and won first prize.

Brendan will go on to the Young European Environmental Research Contest in Munich in Germany.