“WE weren’t really expecting it but we were very happy as well,” said Robert Corby, Clarina who along with Junior Cert classmate Adrian Kelly from Raheen were named as group winners in the intermediate technology category in this year’s Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition.
Their entry, a pulse oximeter, is a device which measures heartbeat but also measures oxygen levels in the blood. But, explains Robert, unlike other devices theirs is smaller, portable and cheaper than more conventional devices. They began their investigation in September, spurred on by a television programme which revealed that 70% of hospitals in Africa had no oximeter in their operating theatres.
The boys now hope to modify and develop their device even further. with the ultimate aim of seeing it in use in African hospitals and also in disaster situations.
But the pair were not the only winners at their school, the Salesian College in Pallaskenry which entered the competition for the first time this year. Emma Moloney, Lauren Frawley and Emily Hannon were group winners for their display investigating the benefits of adding iodine supplement to cows’ drinking water.
And Anne Flannery and Sheila Ryan, who investigated the nutritional content of horsemeat versus other meat also found favour with the judges, receiving a special award for their positive demeanour.
“We are absolutely over the moon,” principal Paddy O’Neill said. “It is a fantastic achievement in our first year.”
There was celebration too in Hazelwood College, Dromcollogher where two projects from the school secured four separate accolades.
“We have had several category winners over the years but this year was a clean sweep. It was definitely a case of quality winning out over quantity,” said science teacher Michelle Herbert.
The school is no stranger to the competition, having entered for the past eight years.
“It is a great way for students to explore science outside the classroom,” Ms Herbert said.
Michael Keyes is a “super student” she added and his project, investigating and visualising the structure of atoms using gaming software won two prizes - an individual senior prize for display and second place in the Senior Individual prize in the chemical, phyical and mathematical sciences. “It challenged him in ways not covered by the curriculum,” Ms Herbert said.
Leaving Certificate student Michael Keyes, the son of Gerard Keyes and Evanne Brosnan, explained that the gaming software meant he got 3-D images without having to programme from scratch for the graphics and movement. It would be useful to those interested in atomic structure, he added, as well as to people doing physics and chemistry at second and third level.
Laoise Bennis invented a device to make the transportation of an Irish harp easier for the player - and safer.
“There are a lot of injuries associated with harps,” she told the Limerick Leader. But when her nine-year-old sister began playing, the need for the device became more urgent. The device has suspension wheels to make it easier to negotiate stairs and won a ‘highly commended’ for Laoise in the technology category. But she also won the coveted Fr Tom Burke Memorial Bursary for her excellence in communication. Fr Burke was one of the original founders of the competition but died some years ago and the bursary is worth €1000 to be used for further education. Laoise, 16, is the daughter of John and Anita Bennis from Castletown/Ballyagran.
Coláiste Chiaráin in Croom also experienced success with Kalin Foy’s buzz alarm for the hearing impaired winning two prizes while Athene Storey Cosgrove’s app to identify Irish wildflowers also won a coveted rosette. To the school’s great delight, teacher Edel Farrell was awarded the Analog Devices Educator of Excellence Award.