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All students are winners after having a great experience this week at the RDS January 16, 2010

Posted by Kristina O'Regan in Uncategorized.

On the last day of the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition I had an opportunity to speak to the winners and also other enthusiastic and bright students that were eager to share their projects and findings with me.  The winner of the IBM Special Award was Thomas Dunne from Colaiste Lorcain, Co Kildare. His project was entitled “In search of the gene that causes 1,000,000 deaths each year.” Thomas explained that there are five species of malaria parasite (mosquitoes).  One is responsible for 80% of infections and 90% of deaths globally.  He wanted to find out what one species had over other species in terms of its effectiveness in infecting humans with malaria.  His research involved using bioinformatics to compare six of the most common species using programmes available on the internet and also programmes that he developed to isolate the genes.  He found that there are 15 genes present in species that cause malaria.  This species is known as Plasmodium Falciparum. Thomas then determined what the functions of the genes were by translating them into proteins using software tools on the internet.  He found that there are three genes that are most viable for use in a pharmaceutical vaccine out of the 15 genes.

I then saw a crowd forming around the Overall BT Young Scientist Award Winner, Richard O’Shea , and his project “A biomass fired cooking stove for developing countries”.  The Irish Times wrote, “ The sixth-year student from Scoil Mhuire Gan Smal, Blarney, Co Cork, conducted an 18-month research project to design and build a highly efficient and near smoke-free cooking stove from waste materials, mainly tin cans. “I learned that half of the world’s population, three billion people, rely on biomass [wood, dung and plant material] to cook their food,” Richard said yesterday, describing the inspiration for his project.”

Richard’s research involved the following experimental methods:

1) Researched existing stoves

2) Tested the stoves smoke production

3) Modified stove for optimal performance

4) Tested best design to measure power output, efficiency, fuel consumption, temperature and emission.

He concluded that if he could isolate the biomass in use and then burn these in an oxygen rich environment it would produce low level emissions.

Other award winners and inpiring projects at the exhibition were:

Bryan Murphy and Paul McKeever from Abbey Christian Brothers Gs, Co. Down, who won the Analog Devices Student Award for their “Specs Detector” Project. They described how power tools and machinery will not switch on unless the correct safety equipment is worn. This is done by transmitting an ultrasound signal. There is a patent pending on this project.

Elliot Ward from Pobdscoil Inbhear Sceine (Kenmare Community School, Co. Kerry) won the Fr. Tom Burnsey Award for his project entitled “The development of a device to ensure maximum production of melatonin in children“.  Melatonin is an anti-oxidant which prevents cancer.  Elliot explained that in order for Melatonin to be produced in the body children should not sleep with a nightlight on as melatonin is only produced when you sleep in the dark.  His patent pending device is a wristband which reads the child’s pulse and detects the pulse of the child.  When the child has fallen asleep the pulse rate is transmitted by a transducer inside the nightlight.  The software commands light bulb to turn off.  Then melatonin production begins.

There were so many projects and the imagination and work that went into these projects is hugely commendable. In my eyes all those that participated are winners.  I greatly enjoyed the opportunity to meet these bright and energetic students and wish them all the best in their future endeavours.

Written by:Kristina O’Regan



1. alessandra pollicini - January 16, 2010

Hi Kristina, great coverage of the last day. I agree with you. It was great, experiencing first-hand the potential of science and technology, when applied to projects that aim to improve our lives. Looking at the talent of all participating students today, just imagine what they’ll be able to achieve in the future! Well done all.

2. alanmulvihill - January 18, 2010

It was refreshing to see such great energy, enthusiasm and endeavour of all the participating students in attendance as well as all the IBM volunteers who helped to bring IBMs Smarter Planet vision to life for the masses that visited our stands. Roll on January 2011 when we can hopefully do it all again.

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