New shades might take £5m off State's street lighting bill


UP to £100 might be saved on every bulb used for Ireland's street lighting through a hood device developed for streetlamps by two Cork schoolboys.

According to David Scannell (17) and Francis O'Donovan (18) of the Christian Brothers' College, Wellington Hill, up to £5 million a year is lost due to ineffective street lighting, which also causes light pollution.

"Light pollution obscures the night sky", David said. "Astronomers can no longer see the stars and some nocturnal animals forget to forage, so they literally die of starvation. They think it's an eternal day." While security lights in back gardens and lights on advertising hoardings are among the culprits, street lighting is the main factor.

"The lights themselves are good enough," according to David. "The main work we did centred around altering the hood shape so that it would cast light better and use the light output more efficiently."

This involved inserting angled mirrors inside the hood of the lamp to control the direction of the light, a development which they believe could save £50 to £100 on every bulb used.

Three students from Belvedere College, Dublin, set out to create the ideal ground conditions for a successful horse race, not so hard as to damage horses but not so soft that the race would be slow and uninteresting.

David Gear, Conan Traynor and Barry Fitzgerald, all aged 16, wanted to find an effective way of softening hard ground. Assessing the hardness of the ground is usually the task of a ground attendant, who relies for his judgment on his experience and the feel of the ground beneath his feet, and is also responsible for trying to make the going softer for the horses.

"When the ground is overly hard and is then watered, the water just seeps through the cracks," David said. "Surface tension was found to be the problem here, so we tried to lower it by adding a biological, biodegradable detergent.

The result was that the ground retained 18 per cent more water, providing racecourse operators and horse owners with a potential way to ensure that hard ground does not lead to the cancellation of meetings and, more importantly, damage to the horses themselves.

The performance of first year science students improved by an average of 30 per cent following the use of a board game developed by Rachel Cooney (13), Kieran Atkinson (14) and Michelle Kelly (13), who are all students in the Liberties Vocational School, Dublin.

They found that some students' scores on the game almost doubled when they. played it a second time.