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Monday 1 September 2014

Loreto's magnificent seven

Published 15/01/2013 | 10:51

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BALBRIGGAN Loreto can be proud of the seven projects it managed to get entered into BT Young Scientists Exhibition this year under the expert guidance of Niamh McNally who was singled out by RTE Radio as an example of an ' inspiring teacher' during its coverage of the exhibition.

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Second year student at the school, Renuka Chintapali took on a spicy subject by investigating the preservative and medicinal qualities of food spices. The project investigates the effect of certain spices on the preservation of meat and bacterial growth. It also questions the ability of spice to act as an antibacterial agent and an alternative to antibiotics.

Fellow second year, Lorna Mc Guinness turned her attention to the horse racing industry and decided to measure how big a factor heart rate and oxygen levels are in the success of a race horse. This project set out to investigate if heart rate and oxygen levels play any part in the success of a racehorse and in measuring the results, Lorna hopes her project will help horse trainers.

Alice O'Neill is a fourth year at the school and her project looked into the vexing problems posed by MRSA and other superbugs. Alice's project was a study comparing components of antibiotic resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus to other bacterial genomes using bioinformatic tools. The study highlights the presence of antibiotic resistant genes in non pathogenic bacterial screens which may act as reservoirs for the spread of antibiotic resistance in the hospital environment.

Also using bioinformatics in their project were the fourth year pairing of Victoria Fitzsimons and Laura Hennelly McCarthy who used the tool to investigate potential 'drug targets' for cancer. The project was an Investigation into how drugs that are being developed to treat different types of cancer might affect protein function and unintentionally interfere with other biological processes. Roisin Lacey and Megan Freeman had their attention fixed on the humble tomato and investigated how chitosan had a protective effect on the fruit. The girls found that chitosan has a protective effects over the tomato fruit with regards to spore germination of the pathogen botrytis cinerea, visible bruising and the softness of the tomato. They found that chitosan could be used as a natural and organic method to protect tomatoes during transportation.

Meaghan Dinsmore looked at the role of music and sport in the development of hand-eye co-ordination. Her project assesses the relationship between hand eye coordination and the amount of musical and sporting experience obtained by teenage girls. Finally, Tess O'Neill and Lauren Murphy combined their efforts on a project dubbed 'Practice Makes Perfect'. The pair conducted an investigation into the effectiveness of mental practice and their research found that a combination of mental and physical practice of a motor skill is more effective than using physical practice alone.

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