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Wednesday 17 September 2014

Cork teenagers scoop European Young Scientist prize

Published 24/09/2013 | 16:57

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Ciara Judge, Sophie Healy-Thow and Emer Hickey, who have scooped a top prize at the European Union's Young Scientist competition (PA/BT)
Ciara Judge, Sophie Healy-Thow and Emer Hickey, who have scooped a top prize at the European Union's Young Scientist competition (PA/BT)

AN IRISH secondary school team celebrated a hat-trick of triumphs by winning the prestigious €7,000 EU Young Scientist competition.

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Kinsale Community School was overjoyed after its team of Ciara Judge (15), Emer Hickey (15) and Sophie Healy-Thow (15) beat entries from 37 other European countries to take the top prize at the Czech Republic finals.

Last January, the Kinsale team scooped Ireland’s Young Scientist title.

It was a remarkable achievement for Ciara Judge who also managed to deliver Ireland’s best Junior Cert results two weeks ago by scoring 12As.

Fittingly, the Irish students received their prize from former Irish TD and Minister, EU Science Commissioner Maire Geoghegan Quinn.

The Cork girls’ winning project examined how a particular bacteria (diazotroph) impacts on plant germination.

Their project on seed germination has already received worldwide plaudits because of its many potential commercial applications.

Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn said she was particularly impressed by their entry.

“The future is bright if this is the level of talent we are producing in Europe. It is particularly great to see the mix of curiosity-driven research and more applied projects,” she said.

“We need more young people to take up such subjects at school and I especially want to encourage more young women to pursue careers in science and technology.”

The Irish students celebrated their triumph in front of their proud parents who had travelled over for the Prague finals from Kinsale.

Best of all, they also received a special honorary award which includes an invitation for them to take part in the London International Youth Science Forum later this year.

The Kinsale Community School triumph continues a remarkable Irish success story in the EU Young Scientist competition with Irish entries having won the overall prize 15 times in 25 years.

“It has been an absolutely fantastic couple of months,” Ciara admitted.

Her parents, Eamon and Maureen, said their daughter, who is now in Transition Year, is ultimately hoping to study veterinary in university.

KCS principal Fergal McCarthy said the school was enormously proud of their team and their Prague triumph.

It was the third time in seven years that the Cork school won the overall national title.

The school proudly held the joint record this year for the greatest number of entries and had a remarkable total of 38 students participating.

In a remarkable twist, Ciara’s older sister, Ashling, was the 2006 Irish Young Scientist champion.

The four-day 2013 EU Young Scientist finals featured a total of 85 projects drawn from 37 countries.

Irish Independent

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