This year saw an all-time record number of entries in the 50 year history of the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition, with 2, 000 project submissions from schools in Ireland.

It was a huge achievement to qualify for exhibit, never mind win an award and the following are accounts from some CEIST schools who very kindly gave of their time to share details and photos on their projects.

Sacred Heart Secondary School, Clonakilty

Three Transition year students; Ellen Fitzgerald, Aoife Dolan and Niamh Nyhan under the supervision of their science teacher Ms Holland from Sacred Heart Secondary School, Clonakilty won the Alcatel-Lucent Special Award at the BT Young Scientist for their project entitled “A Non-Integrated LED Bulb”.

The students designed an LED bulb that could be fitted into the current fixture being used for street lighting.

They then carried out a number of experiments comparing their LED bulb with the current SON-T bulb being used.

The students concluded that the LED bulb could be used to save energy and as a result millions of euro for the council each year.

Pictured above are Sacred Heart Secondary School, Clonakilty students Ellen Fitzgerald, Aoife Dolan and Niamh Nyhan.

St. Vincent's Secondary School, Dundalk

Aoife Begley (Teacher: Ms. Selina McEvoy)

Junior Individual, Chemical, Physical and Mathematical Sciences Category

Award: Highly Commended

Title: Slip or non-slip. That is the question?

Aoife aims to test a number of floor coverings e.g. Tiles, carpet, wood, Lino to determine friction. She will construct a rig, apply different weight's (average weight of man/woman) to the various floor surface and record the friction.

She then hopes to develop a consumer friendly scale based on her findings. Aoife wishes to do this for dry and wet surfaces.

Sarah Begley (Teacher: Ms. Sarah Hunt)

Junior Individual, Biological and Ecological Sciences Category

Award: 3rd Place Category and Display Award

Title: Does Restless Legs Syndrome really exist?

Sarah found that there is no particular medicine currently available to cure RLS (Restless Legs Syndrome).

Through use of a survey she found that RLS is not very common, however, when present, occurs most commonly between the ages of 41 to 60 years of age.

Through the use of case studies she found that decreasing caffeine intake decreased the frequency of RLS and that deficiencies in Magnesium and Zinc in diet can be a contributory factor.

Furthermore, Sarah discovered that people with sedentary lifestyles are more likely to suffer from RLS. The most common forms of relief from symptoms included massage, stretching and the use of cold compressions.

Dara Goss and Megan Crilly (Teacher: Mr. John White)

Intermediate Group, Biological and Ecological Sciences Category

Title: The effect of Yoga on Blood Pressure and heart rate

Published research indicates the benefits to Yoga practitioners in terms of reduced Blood Pressure. We aim to test whether this is true by examining Diastolic and Systolic Blood Pressures over a period of Yoga, during Yoga sessions and between sessions, and assess if there is any danger to practitioners. We aim to raise awareness that Yoga can be an intense workout and dispel some of the misconceptions around Yoga and Exercise.

Pictured above Group Photo of All St. Vincent’s Secondary School, Dundalk BT Young Scientist 2014 participants. From left to right: Aoife Begley, Aoibhin Sally, Grainne Smyth, Aiveen O’Callaghan, Megan Crilly, Dara Goss, Rachael Ni Dhonnachadha and Sarah Begley.

Rachael Ni Dhonnachada (Teacher: Mr. John White)

Intermediate Individual, Chemical, Physical and Mathematical Sciences Category

Award: 2nd Place Category

In Karate when punching your fist is rotated 90 degrees prior to impact.

The reason commonly provided for this rotation is that it adds power to the punch, the downside of the turn is that if the turn is executed slightly early it causes the elbow to flair out from the side of the body which exposes the body to increased likely hood of a counter attack.

My project is to determine if eliminating the twist will provide for a better defence from counter attack and not compromise velocity/acceleration. A secondary benefit is that it would make the coaches/Senseis job much easier when teaching beginners which may aid in the retention of students. I am using the Motion analysis software and a 3 axis accelerometer to capture the data and aid in the analysis.

Grainne Smyth, Aiveen O’Callaghan and Aoibhin Sally (Teacher: Mr. John White)

Intermediate Group, Chemical, Physical and Mathematical Sciences Category

Award: Highly Commended

Title: Home Brewers Beware! The effect of hot press temperature variations and bottle storage conditions on variations in alcohol concentration in home brewed beer.

Our project is about the possible variations on alcohol concentration in different batches of home brewed beer. We brewed different batches of beer.

Using a hydrometer and a refractometer , and “Beer’s-Lambert Law” we test the alcohol concentration in each individual bottle of beer and compare the results to where the bottles were situated in the bottle crate.

St Leo's College Carlow

Emma Townsend is in second year in St. Leo's College in Carlow.

Her project "Zero App; Zero waste" aimed to reduce food wastage in homes across Ireland.

She used QR codes to store information on products including their best before dates.

This information was scanned using her app which was then sent to an online database and sent notifications to the customers phone when food was approaching its best before date.

Emma designed and coded the app all by herself. With dogged determination she learned about block editors in MIT APP inventor, Google fusion tables , website design among other skills.

After spending an enjoyable four days in Dublin with other like minded students, Emma returned to St. Leo's College with the Google Creative Technology Award- Best Female.

This prize from google involves a commemorative plaque, but even better, a trip to any of Googles research centres in Europe this summer. Emma has chosen Zurich.

Presentation Secondary School, Thurles

Presentation Secondary School, Thurles had 5 projects from their Transition Year students that were selected to exhibit. The qualifying projects included:

  • Beat it – Georgia Hobbs, Celine Cullinane, Maggie Delahunty
  • The Forgotten Backgarden – Caroline Fogarty, Eibhlin Vaughan
  • Leaving Cert Biology App – Kelly Ryan, Katie Fanning, Ailish Layden
  • To examine mobile phone usage between Junior and Senior cycle – Jennifer Bourke, Ashling Brett and Rebecca Loughman Twomey
  • Does Moosic effect milk? – Laura Quigley, Louise McCormack, Claire McCormack. Laura, Louise and Claire were Highly Commended for their project.

The future is looking bright for these girls as the exhibition has proven to be a launch pad for the next generation of entrepreneurs, scientists and technologists. Well done to all involved!

Lisdoonvarna Young Scientists scoop 5 awards

The students from Mary Immaculate Secondary School, Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare continued their winning ways in the BT Young Scientist competition which was held in Dublin in early January.

This year saw the school continue an unbroken participation in the Young Scientist competition of 25 years.

The projects that made it to the Dublin exhibition were already winners by the fact that only 550 projects were chosen to exhibit out of the 2,000 projects entered this year. The school was represented by 12 students under the mentoring of John Sims. In all the North Clare school scooped 5 awards despite the fact that the standard of the projects competing in the competition had, according to the judges, risen to very high levels.

In the senior group section of the Social and Behavioural Sciences category Rhianna McMahon and Keelan McMahon won two awards for their project entitled “The Changing Geography of the Young Scientist competition”. They took second prize in this category as well as winning the EMC2 Data Hero award for the project with the best use of data in the competition. As well as winning this award they have been invited to present their project to the staff of EMC2 in Cork at the end of February.

Pictured above are Keelan McMahon and Rhianna McMahon receiving their award.

The involvement of Mary Immaculate Secondary School in the competition and the fact that it was the 50th exhibition gave them the idea for their project.

The aims of their project were:
1. To do a statistical analysis of the changes in participation of students in the Young Scientist competition over the years.
2. To map the participation of students by county for each year.
3. To investigate some of the things which might influence a student to participate in the Young Scientist, whether it is a teacher, school, etc.?

They used the BT Young Scientist website to access the different catalogues starting at 1965. They entered this data into SPSS for analysis. This took a very long time as there are about 20,000 entrants over the 50 years. This data was then mapped using ArcMap.

One of the people who came to discuss their research with them was Dr. Tony Scott, one of the founders of the competition back in 1965. They had a very busy time at the exhibition as their project generated a lot of interest from the public.

Pictured above Dr. Tony Scott (Young Scientist Founder) with Keelan McMahon and Rhianna McMahon.

In the Biological and Ecological Sciences individual category, Stephen O’Connell from Doolin won first prize with his project entitled “Grading crab meat – an easier way?”

Stephen is a fourth year student from Mary Immaculate Secondary School, Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare. This was his third time competing in the BT Young Scientist and Technology exhibition. His previous projects were: “A Profile of Lobsters caught in North Clare”, and “A Study of the Quality of Brown Crab caught off the North Clare coast”. Both won awards.

In this project he measured the protein levels of a number of samples of Brown Crab catches from his father and uncle’s boat to determine the percentage of harvestable meat that they throw back and the percentage of meat that they keep that is unsuitable for harvest.

From the data he collected he found that the colour of the underside of the shell was an accurate method of predicting the quality and quantity of the meat in Crab Claws. He also developed an accurate Crab underside colour chart that would enable fishermen around the country to classify crab quality easily. There was great interest shown by the public in this project and Stephen had a busy time telling them about his project.

Pictured above Stephen O’Connell receiving his award.

Tess Casasin Sheridan and Aoife Doherty with a project entitled “Why are the beaches in Clare different colours?” were rewarded for their hard work by winning the GSI award for the best project involving geology. Their project was in the junior group section of the Chemical, Physical and Mathematical Sciences category. Tess is from Ballyvaughan and Aoife is from Doolin. As well as winning this award they have been invited to present their project at the annual conference of the GSI in Dublin later this year..

The beaches along the coast of Clare have different coloured sand and can be divided into two main colour types; they are either generally grey/white or have a golden colour. Fanore beach is a golden colour and gave Fán Óir, meaning "the golden slope, its name. Another beach near Miltown Malbay is known as White Strand because of the colour of its sand.

The aims of this project were:

  • To classify the beaches based on colour.
  • To identify what contributes the colour to the beaches.
  • To determine the source of those constituents where possible.

To carry out their project they chose 6 beaches. Three of these beaches had a golden colour and three had a grey/white colour. Ten samples were taken from each beach. Each sample was photographed and the colour was analysed using computer software. A sample from each bag was treated with dilute hydrochloric acid to determine the percentage of carbonate present. The samples were also examined using a binocular microscope to separate the grains into organic and inorganic.

This research provided information about the sand budget of these beaches which would be very useful should these beaches need sand replacement in the future due to storm damage. They were busy at the exhibition answering questions from the public on their project.

Pictured above Tess Casasin Sheridan and Aoife Doherty being presented with their trophy by Koen Verbruggen, Director Geological Survey of Ireland. 

David Sims was awarded a Highly Commended for his project entitled “The feasibility of using Ulva lactuca as a method in the treatment of sewage”. This project was in the Senior individual section of the Biological and Ecological Sciences category. This is his sixth and final year entering a project. “Through my research on my project last year I found that Ulva lactuca grew more in places with higher levels of nutrients. This year I wanted to find out if this seaweed absorbs the nutrients and other chemicals in the water”.

The aims of his project were:

  • To see if Ulva lactuca can be used to treat sewage and contaminated water.
  • To look at how lowering the salinity of the water affects how Ulva lactuca works.

He found that Ulva lactuca did reduce the nutrient levels in sewage and that it could have a potential use in treating sewage.











Pictured above David Simms showing off his book autographed by Chris Hadfield.

The other projects that successfully made it to the exhibition in the RDS were:

  • Aisling O’Rourke: “An examination of rock pool fish communities on shores north and south of Galway Bay”
  • Patrick O’Rourke: “Sport and alcohol, is it too close a relationship?”
  • Órlaith Bowen: “Predator effect on the behaviour of Mytilus edulis and Littorina littoria”,
  • Maghnus Hartigan: “Mouse's Ears; Development of a computer mouse that senses users' subconscious reactions”
  • Lizzy Roche and Olivia McGann: “Variations in Carlina vulgaris from different regions of the Burren”.

After the celebrations have died down work is already beginning in Mary Immaculate on the next BT Young Scientist competition which as I write this article the BT Young Scientist website informs me that we only have 349 days left to get all the work done!

CEIST congratulates all students who took part in the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition.