'A really exciting project' - Cork student Simon Meehan crowned the winner at the BT Young Scientist Exhibition
Transition Year student Simon Meehan has won the 54th BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition which examines killing bacteria using natural plant active ingredients.
Simon (15) took home the top prize for his project ‘Investigation into the Antimicrobial effects of both aerial and root parts of selected plants against Staphylococcus.’
Simon, who is a student at Colaiste Choilm in Ballincollig, Cork, has scooped a prize that includes a €7,500 prize fund the BTYSTE perpetual trophy and an exclusive trip to Bletchley Park in the UK, the infamous World War II coding centre.
He will also represent Ireland at the European Union Contest for Young Scientists, which will take place at the RDS, Dublin in September, which is only the second time that the competition has been held here.
Professor John O’Halloran, BT Young Scientist Judge and Chair of the Biological and Ecological Sciences Category, explained what he felt made Simon's entry so special.
He said: “This is a really exciting project which explores the possibility of the blackberry leaf extract’s ability to control harmful bacteria.
“The unexpected findings deliver a unique approach to killing bacteria using natural plant active ingredients.
“The rigour of the approach adopted by Simon set his project apart from competitors and made him our overall winner.
“Simon selected nine locally sourced plants such as asparagus, nettles and blackberries to test for the presence of chemicals which could potentially be used to control bacterial infection.
“The leaves of the blackberry plant were shown to contain a chemical which prevented the growth of different bacteria.”
Education Minister Richard Bruton and BT Ireland's Managing Director Shay Walsh presented Simon with his prize at the RDS tonight.
Minister Bruton said he is thrilled with the talent and diversity on display at the exhibition - after 4,251 students entered 2,031 projects into the competition.
He said: “I’m delighted to be here at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition - it’s fantastic to see so many young people engaged and inspired by the STEM subjects and their application to real world problems.
"Outside of school activities such as this have a critical role to play in sparking that passion in our children for science and technology and have a massive influence on their engagement with STEM in their future lives. We’ve recently launched our STEM strategy which aims to give more formal recognition to student’s participation in initiatives such as this.
"I would like to congratulate every student, teacher and school community involved for all their hard work during the year and especially this week. The Exhibition is a highlight for the education calendar every year.”
The award for Group winner went to James Knoblauch, Harry Knoblauch and Oran O’Donoghue, all aged 16 and 5th year students from St. Brendan’s College Killarney, Co. Kerry for their project entitled ‘An Investigation into Conformity and How Minorities Influence it’.
The Individual runner-up award winner was Claire Gregg (16), transition year student at Loreto College St. Stephens Green, Dublin for her project entitled ‘An Analysis of the Housing Shortage in Ireland using Agent-Based Modelling’.
The Group runners-up award was presented to Darragh Twomey, Neil O’Leary and Andrew Heffernan, aged 16, transition year students at Colaiste Treasa, Kanturk, Co. Cork for their project entitled ‘Feeding 9.6 billion people by 2050’.
Every county was represented by a submission this year and 60 per cent of entrants were female.
The BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition continues tomorrow and is open to the public from 9.30 am until 5.30 pm.
Tickets can be bought online in advance at www.btyoungscientist.com/ticketing
For more information, download the free BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition app or log onto www.btyoungscientist.com