Wednesday 24 January 2018

Irish teenagers bag top prize at Google Science Fair 2014

Today, Ciara Judge, Émer Hickey and Sophie Healy-Thow were named the Grand Prize Winners
Today, Ciara Judge, Émer Hickey and Sophie Healy-Thow were named the Grand Prize Winners
Google winners - Ciara Judge, Émer Hickey and Sophie Healy
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

THREE Cork teenagers have bagged the top prize at the Google Science Fair 2014 in California.

Kinsale Community School was overjoyed after its team of Ciara Judge (16), Emer Hickey (16) and Sophie Healy-Thow (16) beat entries from 17 other American and world schools to take the top prize which is sponsored by IT giants, Google.

The 18 finalists were selected from over 5,000 entries in 90 different countries.

It marks a remarkable 12 months for Ciara Judge, Sophie Healy-Thow and Emer Hickey who have literally conquered the world of science competitions.

The Cork trio won the BT Young Scientist title in January 2013 before heading to the Czech Republic last September and winning the €7,000 top prize in the EU Young Scientist competition.

As if that wasn’t impressive enough, last September Ciara scored a whopping 12As in her Junior Cert.

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

Ciara’s proud parents, Eamon and Maureen, admitted that it has been an astonishing 18 months for the girls and their school.

The girls’ project on seed germination has already received worldwide plaudits.

It revolves around their discovery that bacteria which occur naturally in the soil can help kick-start the germination of some crops by as much as 50pc.

The Cork girls’ winning project examined how a particular bacteria, a diazotroph, can increase germination rates and crop yields.

Experts believe the commercial applications of their discovery are absolutely enormous.

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

Their top prize for winning the US title in California is a €30,000 scholarship from Google and an all-expenses paid field study trip to the Galapagos Islands where Charles Darwin formulated his theory of evolution.

They will also get the chance to sample astronaut training with NASA.

Ciara has already set her sights on studying veterinary science in university after her Leaving Cert.

Former EU Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn said she was very impressed by the Kinsale girls and their project.

“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.

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.

Ciara’s parents, Eamon and Maureen, said their daughter, who is now in Fifth Year, is ultimately hoping to study veterinary in university.

KCS principal Fergal McCarthy said they were absolutely delighted by the girls’ latest 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.

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