Westmeath projects vie for Young Scientist title

Independent MEP Marian Harkin chats to Ciaran McDermott from Marist College, Athlone at the BT Young Scientist Exhibition. Ciaran’s project ‘Measuring tyre pressure using ultrasonic sensors’ is one of the finalists in this year’s exhibition.

Independent MEP Marian Harkin chats to Ciaran McDermott from Marist College, Athlone at the BT Young Scientist Exhibition. Ciaran’s project ‘Measuring tyre pressure using ultrasonic sensors’ is one of the finalists in this year’s exhibition.

Nine projects from Westmeath schools are battling it out for the top prize in this year’s BT Young Scientist Exhibition, with the winner to be announced later today, Friday.

The 50th annual Young Scientist exhibition has been open since Wednesday this week, with a total of 550 student projects on display. The overall winner will receive a cheque for €5,000 as well as the opportunity to represent Ireland at the European Union Contest for Young Scientists. There will also be awards in each category, with 36 prizes for individuals and 36 for group projects.

The nine Westmeath projects on display in the RDS this week were chosen from 52 entries from across the county.

Moate Community School has the highest number of contributions from the county this year, with three projects qualifying for this week’s exhibition.

They are ‘Investigating the benefits of biochar on plant growth’ by Jessica McCormack, Sandra Nestor, and Róisin O’Brien, which investigates the effectiveness of biochar as a growth medium for biofuels; ‘Video games for the blind’ by Thomas Maguire and Caoimhe Kelly; and ‘Radiation: The Truth’ by Rachael Dolan, who plans to make circuits that convert radio wave energy from mobile phone signals into electricity to light an LED.

Two projects from Our Lady’s Bower, Athlone made it to the exhibition. The first is entitled ‘A good egg? A study of cholesterol levels in organic, free-range and battery eggs’ by Caitríona Clear, Fionnuala Moody, and Fiona Clear; while the second by Doireann Langan, Maedbh Hurst, and Catriona Gilligan asks: ‘Are our teabags bagging us?’, investigating whether paper teabags contain a high amount of fluoride or the harmful carcinogen epichlorohydrin which is used in their manufacturing.

St Aloysius College also have two projects in the exhibition. They are ‘Can non-proprietary/ open source software be used to emulate large scale proprietary text to speech systems?’ by Lochlann O’Reagan, Paul Rushe, and Eryk Zaplata, and ‘Can an architecture program and a game development engine be combined to produce an interactive map?’ by Dylan Fuery, Chris Halota, and Oisín Prendergast, which aims to use existing game engine technology to prototype a software system which helps people find their way around large organisations such as schools and hospitals.

Finally, there is one project each from Athlone Community College and Marist College, Athlone. They are ‘Chalara Fraxinea, a catalyst for change in Irish hurling’ by David Jacob of Athlone Community College, which investigates the survival of traditional Irish ash hurl under threat from the pathogen chalara fraxinea and the rise of the synthetic hurl; and ‘Measuring tyre pressure using ultrasonic sensors’ by the Marist’s Ciarán McDermott which aims to use a Lego Mindstorms kit with ultrasonic sensor to measure the pressure of a car tyre.

A total of 846 Westmeath students have exhibited 437 projects in the RDS over the past 49 years as part of the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition.

This year’s exhibition remains open until 5.30pm tomorrow, Saturday. For more information on the exhibition, see www.btyoungscientist.com

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