Westmeath students shine at Young Scientist Exhibition

More than half of the Westmeath entries into this year’s Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition have emerged as prizewinners.

Ten of the 18 Westmeath projects which made the national finals of the annual competition caught the attention of the judges at last week’s BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition in the RDS, Dublin, with an impressive eight of these going to Athlone students.

Marist College student Daniel Breheny won the first place award in the Junior Biological and Ecological category for his project ‘Boglands, a changing environment’, which analysed the difference between developed and undeveloped bog in terms of the impact on existing habitiats.

Also picking up a first place was a project by Louise Egan, Sarah Denby, and Fiona Molloy of Athlone Community College, entitled ‘Rewetted and degraded raised bogs: Carbon emissions and botanical compostition’. This project also picked up a special award from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Graham Turner from Moate Community School got a special award in the intermediate technology category for his project ‘Is Technology the way forward for education?’

Special awards also went to ‘Moo Munch’, a project by Tierna Maguire of Our Lady’s Bower Athlone, which focused on producing an edible silage cover which could replace the polythene and tyres currently used on farms; and ‘Wake up to Driver Fatigue’ by Ciarán McDermott and Joseph Reidy of Marist College Athlone.

Three Westmeath projects were highly commended: ‘Caonach Cliste’ by Bower students Ciara Mac Carthy, Claire Lemass, and Ellen Finucane, which investigated the use of sphagnum moss as a natural filter on harvested rainwater; ‘Walking on eggshells - a sustainable method of removing petrol and diesel from water’ by Bower students Aisling Benson, Maeve Bass, and Róisín Burke; and ‘The Importance of Farming Habitats in Supporting Native and Migrant Birds/Wildlife’ by Moate Community School students Eoin Shortall and Callum Dunne.

Two Mullingar projects were also successful at the awards. Loreto College student Arisha Ali won second place in the Intermediate Social and Behavioural category with her project ‘Making Memories and Remembering Them’; while Jack Kenny, Jack Hand, and Sean Murphy from Colaiste Mhuire were highly commended for their project ‘Eyespy’ which aims to identify and prevent bullying.

The 52nd BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition ran from January 6 to 9 in the RDS, Dublin, with 550 projects from across the country vying for the top prize. The overall winning project came from Loreto Secondary School in Balbriggan, with transition year students Maria Louise Fufezan and Diana Bura investigating the impact of enzymes in animal feed on nematodes in the soil.

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