Eleven Westmeath projects in the mix for Young Scientist title

Westmeath’s young scientists are investigating projects as diverse as HPV awareness, coffee-diesel, recycling body heat, and creating a fuel from mushroom compost, as they set up their projects at the BT Young Scientist Exhibition in the RDS yesterday.

Eleven projects from Westmeath schools made it to the final round of the annual competition, where a total of 550 projects will vie for the top prize.

Leading the Westmeath pack is Our Lady’s Bower, Athlone with three entries in the exhibition: ‘HPV: Warts and all’ by Julie Ryan and Maeve McMahon which investigates teenagers’ awareness of HPV and the vaccine; ‘Coffee-diesel: Biofuel made from used coffee grounds’ by Aisling Nic Giolla Dé, Aobh NicGhiolla Phadraig, and Isebeal O Brien; and ‘Alternative ways to cool the Liebig condenser’ by Aisling Benson, Maeve Bass, and Róisín Burke.

Athlone Community College have two projects in the exhibition. The first, ‘An investigation into the correlation between personality and height in teenage boys’ by Evie McTague examines “why the taller man gets the girl, earns more, runs the company, and become president”; while Caoimhe McIntyre and Aine O’Meara’s project is entitled ‘An ecological comparison of conventional tillage versus strip-till after one season’.

There are also two finalists from Moate Community School. They are ‘Not “mush-room” for turf anymore!’ by Shane Seery and Sean Pettit which looks at the possibility of making a burnable fuel out of spent mushroom compost; and ‘Hoof wall separation disease in Ireland’s Connemara pony’ by Colin Doyle.

The two entries from St Aloysius College, Athlone are ‘Can an adapted Newton-Raphson algorithm optimise Big Data software?’ by Lochlann O’Regan; and ‘Can an Android kernel be redesigned to work with a variety of devices?’ by Chris Halota, Eryk Zaplata, and Oisin Prendergast.

The Marist College has one project at the exhibition, ‘Recycling body heat’ by Jack Brody, Corey Reid, and Oisin O’Meara which investigates the potential of recycling the heat in our exhaled breath to warm our bodies.

There is also an entry from Mullingar Community College, entitled ‘Sphagnum peat moss as an alternative to commercial flower foods’ by Aoife Woods, Amy Allard, and Eve Ryan.

The 51st BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition takes place in the RDS, Dublin from January 7-10, and is open to visitors from today, Thursday January 8.

There were a record number of entries this year, with 2,077 project ideas submitted by 4,616 students. This year, participating senior level students are in with a chance of winning an entrance scholarship to their choice of Ireland’s seven universities. Scholarships of €1,000 will be awarded to every fifth and sixth year student who wins first place in either the individual or group categories, whilst a €2,000 scholarship will be awarded to any fifth and sixth year student who wins the overall title.

For more information on the exhibition, visit www.btyoungscientist.com or follow the exhibition on Twitter @BTYSTE.

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