Game, set and match for Young Scientist


A project to develop the ultimate sports coaching tool has won the coveted prize of BT Young Scientist for 2011. Alexander Amini (15) of Castleknock College Dublin developed a computerised movement sensor system that tracks arm and racket movement in an effort to develop the perfect swing.

Alexander's was the winner chosen from amongst the 513 projects shortlisted for presentation at the RDS in Dublin. Entitled "Tennis sensor data analysis", he developed a sensor system that allows a computer to identify and track 13 specific racquet swings and model the way a person plays. He takes home the BT perpetual trophy and a cheque for €5,000, presented to him tonight by Tanaiste Mary Coughlan.

The best group project award goes to transition year students Thomas Cronin, Dylan Coss and Jeremy Barisch-Rooney of Colaiste Muire, Crosshaven, Co Cork for their design of a very low cost wind turbine electricity generation system for use in the developing world. Its key feature is the fact it can be built from discarded components such as old bike frames, wire and magnets. They receive a cheque for €1,200 and a BT trophy.

The runner-up individual award was claimed by James Doyle (17) a fifth-year student from Presentation de la Salle College, Carlow. He researched the use of discarded hedgerow cuttings as a possible biomass fuel source and discovered the approach had huge potential, both for power plants and in woodchip burners. The cuttings are typically left to rot but he found they were worth €309 per tonne. Taking out associated processing costs, it left a residual profit of €208 per tonne, he calculated. James receives a BT trophy and a cheque for €1,200.

Ciara Judge, Royanne McGregor and Sophie Healy-Thow, all 13-years-old and first year students at Kinsale Community School, Co Cork claimed the runner-up group award, which comes with a BT trophy and a cheque for €1,200. They did a statistical analysis of public attitudes to cholesterol and its control. They surveyed doctors and then a group of more than 700 people. This provided conflicting results so they modified their questions and did a larger survey of 1,277 and found that while people were aware of the risks associated with cholesterol, they were not acting on that information.

The BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition remains open tomorrow until 5.30pm, when the exhibition concludes.