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It's showtime as our bright sparks shine

IF innovation, enthusiasm and ambition are qualities Ireland needs right now, then look no further than the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition this week.

Nearly 4,000 students from across the country have spent months investigating, testing and experimenting before entering their project, and the results are impressive.

Take a walk around the stands in the RDS in Ballsbridge, Dublin, and the sheer scope and depth of imagination which have inspired the entrants' work is evident.

Everyday practicality, such as how to increase bicycle use in Monaghan, sits alongside impenetrable (at least, for the amateur observer) mathematics -- "A number of theorems on the arbelos" -- from Scoil Chonglais, Co Wicklow.

A record-breaking 3,943 students entered 1,735 projects this year and there was a 35pc increase in the number of technology-related entries.

Visitors can see the 515 projects that made it through to the show, which runs from today until Saturday, and is open to the public from tomorrow.

Among those setting up their stalls yesterday were Deirdre Murphy and Emily Thornton from Loreto College, St Stephen's Green, Dublin. The 16-year-olds from Castleknock investigated whether listening to music helped or hindered concentration levels when studying. Their results will be joy to the ears of all parents who have ever yelled "turn that down/off".

Listening to your favourite pop song does not help you study, the girls discovered.

Meanwhile, Owen Killian and Lucas Grange will be showing off their pocket-size defibrillator, which they say could be used after sudden cardiac arrest.

The fifth-year pupils from Belvedere College, Dublin, have developed a device that attaches to an iPhone and would be powered to give three electric shocks to restart the heart, with key data being relayed through the phone. They believe a pharmaceutical firm could develop the concept into a potentially life-saving portable tool.

Another project, from Kyrill and Artyom Zorin, is already having a global impact. The brothers, aged 14 and 16 and pupils at St Conleth's, Clyde Road, Dublin, have improved their Zorin Operating educational system, which could be particularly helpful to teachers in developing countries as it is a free alternative to Windows.

Exhibition tickets are available for students at €6, adults €12 and families €25. Log on to www.btyoungscientist.com

Irish Independent