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Sunday 22 April 2018

Our young Einsteins love the appliance of science

Grainne Cunningham

DID you know you can buy a queen over the internet for €15 -- and that when she arrives in a test tube she'll be pregnant?

Alright, it's a queen ant, but the international trafficking of expectant insects is just one of the mysteries laid bare by the curious minds of those gathered at this year's BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition.

Any teenager who thinks science is a yawn would find it hard to remain apathetic surrounded by hundreds of excited students who set up 520 projects yesterday, whittled down from a staggering 1,588, submitted from 39 schools.

Among the budding Einsteins were Belvedere College students David Connellan (14) and Cillian Creaner (15), both from Castleknock.

They have spent a year studying ants and their similarities to humans and discovered that the insects teach each other little tricks of the ant trade, stick with a single career for life, and devote themselves to being either a soldier, worker or queen (and there's only one of those).

Cillian was particularly taken with their fierce protectiveness of their colony and their lack of mercy for any intruder.

The teenagers have designed their own ant farms for ants dug out of their gardens and others rescued from a neighbour who had a few unwanted specimens wandering around her house.

And their best tip for the general public is that ants absolutely hate cinnamon -- but if you mix it with sugar, they will eat it and die.


Another valuable lesson learned by three students from Holy Child Secondary School, Killiney, south Dublin, is that the optimum time for the average person to play sport or drive a car is at 6pm. This is because that is when our body temperature is at its highest and that is linked to faster reaction times, explained Aoife Maguire.

But there is much more to the exhibition than the projects. There are computer simulations that prove David Beckham is a scientific genius and can show you how to copy his mastery with a football.

Team Extreme offer demos on how to breakdance while on a BMX bike.

In the Arena of Destruction, the robotic Mechatrons battle for survival.

And at the 3D screen there is the Celestial Extravaganza exhibit, which combines gaming technology with the latest 3-D stereo animations.

The exhibition is open to the public from 1.30pm on Thursday and all day Friday and Saturday. Family tickets for two adults and three children cost €25. Concessions are available for students and others.

Irish Independent

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