Nine Westmeath projects at Young Scientist

Nine projects from Westmeath schools have qualified for this year’s 50th BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition, to take place in January. The projects were chosen from 52 Westmeath entries to this year’s competition.

Moate Community School, which has a proud history of involvement with the competition, has the most contributions from the county this year, with three projects qualifying.

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 the cut. 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.

The 50th BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition will take place in the RDS, Dublin from January 8-11, 2014. For more information on the exhibition, log onto www.btyoungscientist.com .

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