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Friday 25 May 2018

Young Scientist projects focus on Burren farming practices

Cealan O'Neill whose project looks at the relationship between root depth and wind blow.
Cealan O'Neill whose project looks at the relationship between root depth and wind blow.
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

A number of projects from the Burren will focus on the unique farming practices in Clare at the BT Young Scientist this week.

Mary Immaculate Secondary School in Lisdoonvarna is a small school serving the Burren area, with just 230 second level students, but it will be showcasing 10 different science projects at this year's BT Young Scientist competiton.

Student Cealan O'Neill's mother entered the competition a number of years ago and it's on her father's forestry that Cealan carried out his project. Eleanor's project was also on forestry back in 1990.

This year Cealan looked at the relationship between root depth and wind blow. "I want to continue the tradition and do something on a completely different aspect of forestry." 

"One contractor says that he feels that the machinery used to harvest the trees is very ineffective for Irish forests. This leads to lots of trees left behind as well as not completely harvested ones.

"My grandfather had recently had forestry cut and I noticed that some trees were left behind and that the height of the stumps left behind varied a lot. If a lot of wood is left behind, it is wasted. This gave me an idea for a project."

Student Ian Woods says that the traditional winterage that takes place on the Burren inspired his study, and he hopes to see if different weather conditions affect the location and amount of movement of cattle in a winterage and if topography affects the location and amount of movement of cattle and how the cattle behave over the winter.

Another project from the school is on Japanese knotweed and its spread in North Clare since 2008. Student Amy Woods says that her research aims to look at the location of Fallopia japonica in selected areas of North Clare what type of soil it grows on.

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For teacher John Sims, it's his 29th year mentoring students at the annual science competiton. "The Young Scientist is a big thing in our school and we have a number in the pipeline already for next year.

"It encourages students to take up science at senior level. Many of my past young scientist participants have followed a career in science. The experience students have is a very good one. They get to be interviewed by experts in their field. It helps the communication skills of the students and makes them more confident."


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