Success in Northern Ireland Sentinus Young Innovators Competition 2014

On Friday June 20th two students from Our Lady’s College, Greenhills, Drogheda along with their teacher Miss Frances O’Regan set out for the Odyssey Arena, Belfast to compete in the Northern Ireland Sentinus Young Innovators Competition.

This competition has been running for a number of years and Our Lady’s College has a very successful history of achievement in it.

This year the students and teacher excelled themselves. Elle Loughran won the Overall Young Scientist award which comes with a trophy and prize money. She also won the Queen’s University Award for Mathematics for her exc ellent work.

Elle’s project was a mathematical analysis of the spiral patterns of tree cones in Ireland. Over 100 cones samples from 6 different tree species were collected and analysed. Characteristics such as mass, length, angles and spirals were measured and compared within and between species. IAA was extracted from the trees and analysed and quantified using spectrophotometric techniques. A correlation between the characteristics measured and the levels of IAA in the tree was then established.

Anna McEvoy, who has already achieved very high recognition for her original research into the cause and extent of the disease “bleeding canker” in Horse Chestnut trees (Anna won the Elan Biological Award at the Young Scientist competition in Dublin in January) won the Sentinus Young Innovators 2014 Award of Excellence.

Pictured above are award winners Elle Loughran and Anna McEvoy with their teacher Miss Frances O’Regan.

This award is accompanied by the Intel Award trophy and an opportunity to compete at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 2015. The projects that compete at this Fair are all winners in their own countries and are the very best in the world. Anna surveyed more than 1500 Horse Chestnut trees in Ireland to establish the extent of the disease.

She then collected samples of the canker and was able to extract and cultivate the organism that is responsible for causing the disease, Pseudomonas syringae pv. aesculi. Anna then went on to identify the genetic sequence of the bacterium. This is the first time this has ever been done in Ireland.

Both these projects are absolutely exceptional and have only been possible because of the hard work and dedication of the students involved. They have spent countless days, weeks and months out in the woodlands, working in labs and on computers to complete the projects.

Both Anna and Ellie will tell you that the projects were only possible because of the commitment and dedication of their teacher Miss O’Regan. Her dedication to providing her students with the opportunity to excel is unequalled anywhere.

This dedication was also recognised in Belfast where Miss Frances O’Regan was awarded the Intel Teacher of Excellence Trophy. Frances will also be travelling to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to ISEF in 2015.

Congratulations to everybody involved. This is a wonderful achievement and we are very proud of you all. All awards are well deserved.

The two girls also won awards at the Drogheda Young Enterprise competition in May and their work was on display in the Laurence’s Centre. They have had a great year and its only June!

Pictured above are Principal Geraldine Mulvihill, Elle Loughran, Anna McEvoy and teacher Miss Frances O’Regan.