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Young Scientists make an impact

yse_2011_01Of the seven Young Scientists from Jesuit schools who showed projects at the RDS this month, two were awarded first prizes in their sections. Gonzaga’s Rory D. Hughes (pictured here in his helmet) won first Prize in the Junior Technology Section for the second year running. In designing a sensor-controlled cycle helmet he employed both electronics and programming. This project also earned him the Analog Devices Travel Award which includes a trip to the US and €2,500 for school laboratory equipment. First prize in the Senior Technology section (and a special award from the Health Research Foundation) went to Belvedere’s Owen Killian and Lucas Grange for designing an automated external heart defibrillator which could be lighter, cheaper, and easier to use than anything currently on the market. For details of these and five other intriguing projects, read more.

Sinead Lowry, Niamh Kelly and Hannah Henry-Bruen from Transition Year in Coláiste Iognáid asked: “Which Sport Makes You Fitter?”  They used measures of endurance, flexibility, strength and heart rate, to compare various sports in the school: hockey, rugby, rowing and Gaelic football.  Their conclusion? – rowing is better for girls, and either rugby or rowing for boys.

From Gonzaga, First years Fionn Coolican and Nicholas Harding-Bradley won third prize in their Section for a statistical analysis of the Rock/Paper/Scissors game. And Sean O’Rourke and Paddy Meenan (Intermediate section) presented an excellent project on coaching tennis.

Two projects from Belvedere were highly commended by the judges: an Intermediate study of the bacterial impact on soil fertility; and a Junior look at ways of studying moral behaviour.

But it was the technology project of Owen Killian and Lucas Grange that attracted the most intense interest. The partnership of Owen’s passion for medicine, and Lucas’s skills in physical circuitry, proved formidable. Coverage of the project by RTE’s Nationwide led to non-stop interest on the floor of RDS, where Owen and Lucas were talking all day to engineers, medics, computer buffs, Irish Heart Foundation representatives and others. They aimed a) to raise awareness of heart hazards; b) improve the available technology and alert manufacturers to their proposal. Cardiologist Dr Joe Galvin thought they had succeeded significantly in raising awareness. They examined the hardware in a defibrillator (those in current use are about the size of a laptop), and converted it into software, working out of a smartphone and a matchbox-size appendage, as well as two electro-pads for the chest and back of the patient. Congratulations.