Saturday 7 December 2013

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Sporting prowess is kept at arm's length

NOT content with submitting one project to the Young Scientists Exhibition, an Ardgillan Community College student decided to enter two into the competition, both concerned with arm length and its influence on sporting prowess.

Rowing and archery were both examined in these projects to see if arm length had anything to do with success or failure in the sports.

Amina Ramada was the student examining this issue and just to take her rowing project for an example, she tried to divine a maths model to decide what are the ideal limb lengths for rowers in each seat of a four-man ocean rowing skiff.

Both projects were mentored by Theresa Gannon, and Amina explained the rowing project, saying: 'My study asks how a team of differing rower heights can be placed in an ocean rowing skiff, of fixed seat positions, to achieve maximum rower and team efficiency. 'First of all I had to find the measurements of the boat and the oars, and the location of the seats in the boat. I plotted the boat on many different scales, so I could work with the angles and measurements.'

Taking a number of different measurements and calculations, Amina came up with the perfect formula for an ocean-going fourman skiff. Also focusing on sport was the group project of Jamie Fennell, Bill Harris and Luke O'Neill who under the guidance of Ms Gannon looked at the enforced time penalty in triathlons that made athletes stop in their tracks after intense physical activity and just before resuming that same intensity. The students wondered if this was a health risk.

They explained: 'We decided to do this study when we were watching the London Olympics 2012; we were shocked when we saw Johnny Brown Lee collapse. 'We asked could this have been caused by the 15 seconds penalty he occurred after mounting his bike too early at the transition zone.' The students examined the issue by analysing the heart rate response to exercise among teachers and students in the school with a sudden stop in exercise for a regular 'cool down'.

The final project focusing on a sport from Ardgillan was on sailing and was a group project by Donal Boyle, Killian Leonard and Sam McCurdy under the guidance of their mentor, Mr Dooley. The boys looked at different sail designs and how they work to optimise the amount of energy that can be harnassed from the wind. They used all of that information to design their own sails and test them to see which design generated the most force and which was best for manoeuvring the boat.

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