Thursday 24 April 2014

Ready, Steady, Experiment: Young Scientist Exhibition underway

THE winner of the first Young Scientist Exhibition in 1965 said taking part in competitive exhibitions is a ‘‘critical component’’ for budding young scientists as he launched the event today.

As the 50th BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition kicks off in the RDS, hundreds of bright students are setting up their science projects to display to the judges and public.

‘‘The fact that competitions like this include young people gives them self-confidence, motivation and encouragement and allows them to explore their career potential in terms of science,’’ scientist John Monahan from Silicon Valley said.

The successful scientist and businessman, originally from Co. Kildare, won the exhibition with an experiment on food digestion.

Three excited young pupils from Colaiste Iosagain in Stillorgan spoke about their unusual projects, which ranged from sport to food science, ahead of the showcasing event.

Student Fiona Nic Gamhna (15) from Blackrock created an experiment to test how different senses affect one’s taste.

‘‘We did five trials on up to 100 students in our school with different age ranges on smell, sight, hearing, texture and taste,’’ she said.

John Monahan looks at a photograph taken of him when he first won the BTyoung scientist and technology exhibition pictured in the RDS Dublin.
John Monahan looks at a photograph taken of him when he first won the BTyoung scientist and technology exhibition pictured in the RDS Dublin.

Alternating the senses available to each student, the food tasted different and many guessed incorrectly when one of their senses was blocked.

‘‘It had a big effect on how they though they tasted it - they thought they tasted a peach when it was actually a strawberry,’’ she added.

Sinead Dalton (15) from Blackrock was curious about why many young students are not physically active and put it to the test.

‘‘We put a survey to over 200 students aged between 12 and 16 and asked whether they did sport or they didn’t,’’ she said.

After analysing the data, she focused in on the students that were not sporty and researched the reasons as to why.

The main results found that many students do not actively take part in sports because they do not have the time or their desired sport is not available to them.

‘‘My project is based on the effects water has on seed germination,’’ said Sophie Ni Leathlobhair (15) from Dún Laoghaire.

The student used seven types of water to decipher which would work best.

Discovering that sea water was the most effective for growing seeds, she varied the temperatures and found that room temperature was most suitable for full germination.

‘‘I had a fantastic teacher for the past three years for my junior cert and she definitely inspired me to take up science and do science in the future,’’ she added about her love of science.

The exhibition is hosted by TG4’s Roisin Ni Thomain and broadcaster Aidan Power and will be open to the public from Thursday 9th to Saturday 11th of January.

Tickets cost €6 for students, €12 for adults and €25 for a family pass.

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