Sunday 17 February 2019

Girls outnumber boys for 12th year in a row as Young Scientist brings out our brightest

Discoveries: Ellie Colcannon (14), Kate Owens (13) and Aoibhe Briscoe (14) with their antibiotic resistance project. Photo: Frank McGrath
Discoveries: Ellie Colcannon (14), Kate Owens (13) and Aoibhe Briscoe (14) with their antibiotic resistance project. Photo: Frank McGrath

Ryan Nugent at the RDS

A lack of women in science industries was lamented by President Michael D Higgins - as he pointed to the number of girls entered into the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition gazumping the boys for a 12th year in succession.

Some 550 projects, ranging from removing red wine stains to saving the worms from micro-plastics, were on show at the RDS Arena in Dublin for the event's 55th year.

Mr Higgins pointed to the fact that only 25pc of scientists in science, technology, engineering and maths industries were women, yet 55pc of participants in this year's competition were girls.

A cheer broke out in the RDS Arena as Mr Higgins pointed out the higher participation by girls.

"Society is being denied the intellectual contribution of so many who could be, but are not represented in the world of science," Mr Higgins said.

He said that more had to be done to improve the life-work balance of us all to "enable even greater access and participation by women at all levels of science".

Madeleine Mitchell, Eoin O’Máille and Róisín McGrath with their Food for Fuels project. Photo: Frank McGrath
Madeleine Mitchell, Eoin O’Máille and Róisín McGrath with their Food for Fuels project. Photo: Frank McGrath

One such up-and-coming female entrant was Ciara Gilmore (14) from Carndonagh Community School in Co Donegal.

Ciara's project was to finally get to the bottom of whether or not white wine removed red wine stains on clothes.

And guess what, it's more than just an old wives' tale -just make sure the white wine you use is either French or Australian.

Ciara explained that she was shocked upon seeing a bottle of white being poured on to her aunt's white dress at a wedding recently, and even more amazed as she witnessed the red blotches disappear.

Brian Donnelly (14), Ross O’Donovan (13) and Timmy O’Riordan (14), who studied the impact of parents at sports games. Photo: Frank McGrath
Brian Donnelly (14), Ross O’Donovan (13) and Timmy O’Riordan (14), who studied the impact of parents at sports games. Photo: Frank McGrath

With the use of a colorimeter device, Ciara was able to measure the absorbency of the different liquids.

"I tested five red wines and four white wines and saw what white wines from which countries removed stains most, and it was Yellow Tail sauvignon blanc from Australia and Bordeaux from France that removed all of the red wines most," she explained.

Meanwhile, as Mr Higgins pointed to the growing trend of climate change within the 500-plus exhibits - there were 88 in total - he may have had a look at a particular project from three Galway students and their 'Food for Fuels; Air Pollution' exhibition.

Such was their appetite to make their work a success, they even went out on Christmas Day to measure the air pollution in their area.

Among the findings by Eoin O'Máille, Maddie Mitchell and Róisín McGrath was that wood added to coal fires significantly increased pollution.

They said such was the pollution coming from open fires on Christmas Day that it topped pollution levels in Beijing.

Elsewhere among the raft of projects, Kishoge Community College pair Liyana Muhammed and Jordan Ahern, both aged 16 and from Lucan in Dublin, created a device that alerts the hearing-impaired if a fire starts in their home. Their system - which involves the use of a vibrating watch - came about after Liyana previously attended a school next to a deaf village in Cabra.

Two smoke detectors go through a computer in the ceiling of the home.

"That has a radio, so if they detect smoke, that will send a signal to the watch that the hearing-impaired person will wear," Jordan said.

"They can find out what room it's in and get out as quick as possible to keep themselves safe," he added.

Elsewhere, in the social and behavioural science section, three Cork boys have called for silent sidelines at juvenile sports matches following extensive research.

Timmy O'Riordan, Ross O'Donovan and Brian Donnelly found the input from parents on the sidelines was mainly negative. They surveyed 250 players, coaches and referees involved in their local clubs in Bishopstown.

"We concluded that a silent sideline, we'd recommend it. We think coaches should talk, but parents banned," said Timmy.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News