Young Scientist: First Prize for Presentation Milltown

Aoife Stephens, a Transition year student, in Presentation Secondary School Milltown secured a first in the Young Scientist of the Year competition in RDS Dublin last week. Aoife was awarded joint first prize in the Social and Behavioural intermediate category for her project:

“It Just Clicks! Positive Reinforcement in Horses”

Aoife’s project incorporated three related studies: In the first she trained groups of five horses using three different techniques and using video footage compared the efficiency and effectiveness within each of the training styles. The second study surveyed horse owners in Co. Kerry to identify training issues, techniques and their knowledge of Clicker Training.

Finally Aoife repeated an experiment, conducted previously by other scientists on animals, but never on horses, to see if she could teach two component behaviours in order to solve a problem.

Each of the four Judges were highly impressed with the quality of her work and particularly her depth of knowledge.

She was able to prove that Clicker Training was both more effective and efficient than other conventional styles.

There is no doubt but that her research will be of huge interest to many horse owners and trainers.

Denis Maguire her science teacher, acknowledged that Aoife is an exceptional student “She is extremely capable and self-motivated, her success is well deserved and indeed no surprise” he said.

On behalf of Presentation Secondary School, Mr Bonner, Principal, congratulated Aoife on her wonderful achievement acknowledging that it was a great honour for herself, her family and all associated with Presentation Secondary School, Miltown.