Christopher’s name is written in the stars....

Christopher Carragher, a 6th Year student in Our Lady’s Secondary School, Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan has certainly written his name in the stars and in the history annals of Our Lady’s as he returns from the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair held in Pennsylvania with a second prize in the world award in the Computational Biology and Bioinformatics category.

Christopher (pictured on right) who was accompanied by his teacher, Ms Kathryn Higgins, has spent the week in Pittsburgh where around 1,700 students from over 75 countries compete at Intel ISEF for a prize fund totalling $4million. His reward for his hard work and efforts with ‘Memory Buddy’ has won him a prize of $1500 and the privilege of having an asteroid named after him!!!

Christopher’s journey with Memory Buddy began last November when he won the National Scifest 2014 award from where he would take his invention to the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair in May 2015. Memory Buddy is essentially an automated device which assists people with memory loss to deal with such important issues as the administration of medicine and keeping appointments.

It uses Google Calendar to alert the person about appointments and medication via flashing lights, sound and also via the TV.

It also includes a remotely controlled medicine drawer to give the appropriate medicine at a specific time – there’s even a feedback facility to notify a carer when medicine has or has not been taken. An organiser for care rotas and appointments also comes with Memory Buddy.

Christopher’s invention attracted a lot of attention at Scifest and he was also successful at the BT Young Scientist Award 2015 when he took the overall Technology Award in addition to the HPRA (Health Products Regulatory Award) Award.

Christopher said of his trip to Pittsburgh, “it was amazing. I met students from all over the world, and heard speeches from famous scientists like Nobel laureates Sir Harold W Kroto and Martin Chalfie. It’s been great to see all the projects that other students from around the world have been working on and it has been brilliant to spend a week together sharing our ideas”.

Christopher’s teacher, Ms Higgins who herself was awarded the Intel Teacher of Excellence back in November has described Christopher as a very focused and hard worker. “He has been tremendously focused on the project and has given a huge amount of time and commitment to it. Indeed Christopher’s parents also deserve a lot of credit for the support and encouragement given to him since he embarked on this project in January. He has been a very enthusiastic, focused participant and just simply could never do enough! I am delighted that he has achieved deserved international recognition for his Trojan efforts”.

Speaking at a ceremony in the school to mark Christopher’s success, school Principal, Mr Eddie Kelly extended his congratulations to Christopher on his wonderful success.

“This is an absolutely tremendous achievement for Christopher and one which is well and truly deserved. From the moment Christopher came up with the concept of Memory Buddy he has put an incredible amount of thought, planning and effort into this project. I am delighted that all of his hard work and commitment has been recognised at such a prestigious level on the international science stage and no one deserves this more than Christopher.

He is such a talented but also a modest and unassuming young man who has taken everything in his stride, he continues to be an excellent ambassador for Our Lady’s and is such a positive role model in many different ways for his peers and the younger students in our school. As he is approaching the end of his time in Our Lady’s I would like to wish Christopher every success as he moves on to third level and I have no doubt that his experiences from his journey with Memory Buddy will open many doors for him in whatever path he chooses to follow.

I would in particular like to acknowledge the part played by his Science teacher Ms Higgins who gave generously of her time, experience and expertise to support and guide Christopher on this incredible journey. I would also like to echo the thanks of Ms. Higgins in acknowledging the important role played by Christopher’s parents in this process and to thank them for their continued support and cooperation. Here in Our Lady’s we are all extremely proud of their efforts and congratulate them wholeheartedly on their successes”.