THE most learned of academics struggle to explain Quantum physics and neuroscience, but Limerick lad Jack O’Callaghan had a novel idea at the recent BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition.
The transition year student in Gaelcholáiste Luimnigh won first place in his category - Intermediate Individual Social and Behavioural Sciences - for his project ‘Learn to Juggle, Juggle to Learn’.
Using juggling to demonstrate how intuitive learning, underpinned by physics, might be used in schools, Jack was a hit at the exhibition, which featured over 500 stands from schools around the country.
“Jack became a bit of celebrity at the exhibition because he was juggling and it drew a lot of attention, lots of people stopped by his stand to see what was going on,” explained Sinéad ní Chiardha, deputy principal in the city school.
“That was an innovative way to use juggling as a mechanism to explain the theory and bring it down to a level that people could take part in or relate to, that was very clever.”
Jack himself explained that he had “tried and failed” to enter the competition in previous years, but “finally succeeded” this year.
He said the few days in the RDS in Dublin were “inspiring”.
“No sooner had I set up my stand than I was explaining it to some of the students in the stands nearby,” he explained.
“The exhibition was the highlight of the year so far and I would undoubtedly do it again,” added Jack, who was also highly commended for his project.
Three of the four projects entered by Gaelcholáiste Luimnigh took home prizes, while third year duo Karl English and Matthew O’Dwyer had the privilege of meeting President Michael D Higgins, who spoke to them as Gaeilge about their project.
Transition years Eibhlín Halpin and Eoin Jardine, and second years Daragh Exton and Matt Lucey all won awards for their projects, continuing a run of success for the Gaelcholáiste that has seen them win awards every year at the Young Scientist exhibition since the school was founded in 2006.
“That is down to the commitment and the hard work of all the science teachers here in the school, who we are very proud of,” explained Ms ní Chiardha.
“They worked extremely hard in the weeks and months leading up to the last few days. It was a huge workload for the kids and the teachers.”
The deputy principal said the students get “huge confidence” from taking part.
“We let the first years go every year so that they might be inspired to take part themselves in the future and that has worked well for us,” she added.
Projects from St Nessan’s Community College were also highly commended, as were those from Ardscoil Rís and Castletroy College at the awards.