Saturday 20 July 2019

Keep hydrated if you want to do well in Maths

Fingal students impress at BT Young Scientist exhibition

We all know how important hydration is but can keeping hydrated actually improve our ability to do mathematics?

That was the basic theory under test in a project from two students of St Joseph's Secondary School in Rush at this year's Young Scientist Exhibition at the RDS, last week.

Mark Grimes and Kevin Attley had made a casual observation based on their own experience and that of their fellow students that they performed less well in class when they were thirsty.

With that in mind, they decided to look into how the level of hydration your body enjoys, effects your cognitive function.

To narrow the focus of the project even further, the boys decided to concentrate on maths ability and whether that was influenced by the level of a student's hydration.

With the help of some willing subjects from the Rush school, the boys set about putting their theories to the test.

A number of students were put on a detailed hydration plan while another group was not.

Both groups were repeatedly tested on their maths abilities while one advanced through the hydration programme and the other maintained their normal intake of water.

All the while, their urine was also tested to monitor ph levels and glucose levels in a bid to match the results with the grades of hydration found in the students' urine.

While everyone improved to some degree in taking the tests, a lot of that can be put down to practice, according to Mark and Kevin.

But the pair did record a significantly better improvement over the test period in the group that were on the hydration plan.

They also found that testing in the afternoon produced the best results, particularly again, with the hydrated group.

The practical implications of the findings, according to the Rush students is that it could and perhaps should influence the time maths is taught and tested in the school day.

According to Mark and Kevin, that should definitely be in the afternoon.

They say that students should also be encouraged to hydrate before and through a period of study or examination to aid in their cognitive performance.

The boys presented one of several projects from the Rush school this year, which enjoyed a huge surge in successful entries after only re-entering the competition last year.

Kevin and Mark praised the school for its encouragement of all the Young Scientist participants from St Joseph's and said that Mr Dunne had been particularly helpful to them.

The two students said the Young Scientist experiences had been a 'a lot of work and quite daunting but we think it was worth it to get here'.

Fingal Independent