Local students win at BT Young Scientist Exhibition

by Padraig Conlon
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Three local students proudly brought home prizes from the BT Young Scientist Awards in the RDS last week.

Bobbi Beattie and Kate Bagnall, 2nd year students from Kings Hospital Palmerstown, and Niamh Doherty, a 4th year student from St Joseph’s College Lucan, were recognised for their outstanding scientific efforts.

Bobbi and Kate won two prizes, overall winner of their category Social and Behavioural Sciences and the Irish Special Research award.

The girls’ project was entitled ‘‘Using statistics to investigate changing use of language in primary students’ writing after 80 years’.

Their research, which was done in Kentstown National School in Kells, compared writings of primary school pupils from 1937-1939 which is archived in The Schools’ Folklore Collection at UCD, to today’s students.

They are following in the footsteps of their brothers Richard Beattie and Dylan Bagnall who won their category, Biological & Ecological Science last year (2018) along with the Irish Special Research Award for their project ‘identifying bats from the roost using an inexpensive raspberry pi detector and PCR’.

Richard and Dylan went on to become overall winners of The Sentinus Big Bang Awards in Northern Ireland in June 2018 (NI’s equivalent to the BTYSE) which includes an all expenses trip to represent Ireland in the INTEL ISEF Competition in Arizona this May.

The boys and girls have the same science teacher in Kings’ Hospital, Ciaran O’Connor.

Niamh Doherty also won two awards, 1st place Intermediate Individual in the Chemical, Physical & Mathematical Sciences Category and the Irish Science Teachers’ Association Award, presented by Honorary President Gerald Fleming.

Niamh’s project was titled ‘Natural Geometry – An Extension of Alfred Mayer’s 1878 ‘floating magnets’ Experiment’

Niamh’s project re-examined a long forgotten experiment first published by American Professor Alfred Mayer in 1878.

His experiment, ‘floating magnets’ was at the time used as an analogy for certain molecular structures.

Niamh successfully extended Mayer’s findings and found a modern day analogy ‘Coulomb crystals’ which are the subject of recent scientific research because they occur in the cores of white dwarfs and the crusts of neutron stars.

The overall winner of the BT Young Scientist of the Year was 17-year-old Adam Kelly from Skerries Community College.

Adam will now go on to represent Ireland at the European Union Contest for Young Scientists, taking place in Bulgaria in September 2019.

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