Tuesday 21 November 2017

Brilliance of Ireland’s youth shines at Young Scientist Exhibition

Aishling Phelan

Robot wars, chemical testing and social media were among some of the must-see experiments at this year’s young scientist exhibition.

Almost 4,500 students showcased their science knowledge with insightful and unusual projects at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition today.

With 2,000 colourful projects on display, the judges circled the RDS in search of the country’s next budding young scientist.

Students Georgia Dellow (16) and Naoise Gallagher (15) from Dominican College in Wicklow presented the judges with an experiment on how spiders create different shaped cobwebs depending on the type of music they hear.

‘‘We played three genres of music – pop, alternative and classical – for five hours with six different spiders.

‘‘The pop and alternative music had a rectangular effect on the webs and the classical had all different shapes,’’ Georgia said.

She was inspired to carry out the experiment after learning about it from her sister studying zoology.

How social networking could change a person’s life was the hot topic for Abigail Woods (16) and Siobhan Woodcock (16) from Loreto High School, Dublin.

‘‘Our project was about social networking and the positive effects and to see if these effects could help to change someone’s life,’’ Abigail said.

The pair decided to conduct the experiment because they felt the media projected a negative view of social media.

To discover whether there are positive effects to social media, the students used the survey research method to gather their data.

Almost 60pc of respondents said they would feel lonely without social media.

They concluded that social media can change a person’s life in a positive way through making new friends, better self-confidence and staying in touch with family and friends abroad.

After missing various road signs while driving in the past, Alex Gallagher Lynch (18) from St Nathy's College in Roscommon decided to create an experiment to address the issue of unnoticed road signs.

‘‘Every sign in Ireland would be fitted with an RFID transponder and as you approach the sign the RFID reader in your car interrogates this tag and display the information on the sign inside your car,’’ he said.

The road sign information would be displayed in a visual and audio fashion and help drivers to interpret road signs more efficiently, adhering to speeding limits.

He was inspired to design the experiment after listening to drivers complaining that the reason they broke the speeding limit was because they would not notice signs changing.

Bobby McCarthy (14) from Belvedere College Dublin had bottles of beers lined along his station to showcase his project on supercooling.

Supercooling occurs when a pure liquid is brought below its freezing point but remains a liquid.

‘‘We did this by putting it in the freezer for about two hours and when we took it out we banged it off a solid just like marble and it will instantly become a block of ice as the ice cascades down the bottle,’’ he explained.

The competition exhibits the talents of students in the areas of science, technology, mathematics and engineering.

As today was the first day the public entered the exhibition, attractions such as World of Robots and The Science Museum ‘Supercool’ Show entertained the country’s science devotees.

The winner of the young scientist competition will be announced at the RDS tomorrow afternoon.

BT has received the highest entry levels in the 50 years of the exhibition with 4,418 students entering.

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