Onions to that: Pair find baking soda mix to dry your eyes

Young Scientist projects look at teary eyes and the impact of mobile use on students

Young Scientists: Mark Conlon and James Gallagher, fifth year students from Rathmore Grammar School, Co Antrim, said: “We wanted to develop a solution that would stop you from crying when cutting onions.” File photograph: Getty Images

Young Scientists: Mark Conlon and James Gallagher, fifth year students from Rathmore Grammar School, Co Antrim, said: “We wanted to develop a solution that would stop you from crying when cutting onions.” File photograph: Getty Images

 

Onions are delicious - but they’re the bane of cooks everywhere when the necessary chopping gets tears flowing.

Mark Conlon and James Gallagher, fifth year students from Rathmore Grammar School, Co Antrim have come up with an effective treatment, at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition 2016.

“We wanted to develop a solution that would stop you from crying when cutting onions,” Mark explained.

Part of their research looked at why welling up happens, and the culprit is nothing short of sulphuric acid, they said.

The onions release an enzyme and an amino acid that produces the acid mist that then lands on the eyeball, with tearing up the result.

They found that baking soda, water and ice gave a good solution to the problem, with the mixture misted onto the cut onions to stop the sulphuric acid from reaching the eyes.

“We tried different solutions and tested them on 160 students,” James said.

One slight disadvantage was that this approach required two people - one to chop and one to spray the solution - but the pair found it does work.

Mobile technology

Rachel Moore, Aisling Crowley and Rosie Walsh tackled another issue - whether use of mobile technology was affecting eating, sleeping or weight gain in students.

The Transition Year students from Coláiste Choilm, Cork tested a group of 10 students, asking them to use their mobile phones in a particular way over a four-week period.

They used their phones as normal during the first week, and in subsequent weeks had them overuse and under-use their phone and computer technology. Finally, they had them install a phone app that blocked blue light from the screen.

They could not establish whether phone use was linked to weight gain, but they found students slept better when they avoided use of the phone two hours before sleeping and when the blue light filter was in place.

Their recommendation for heavy phone users is to get the app and reduce blue light exposure.