Limerick student invents a ‘homeless wrap’

Norma Prendiville

Reporter:

Norma Prendiville

Emily Duffy, 15, from Knockaderry and a student at the Desmond College, Newcastle West, pictured with her homeless wrap
JUNIOR Cert student, Emily Duffy, from Knockaderry in Limerick, is helping to put the national spotlight on homelessness in a very practical way.

JUNIOR Cert student, Emily Duffy, from Knockaderry in Limerick, is helping to put the national spotlight on homelessness in a very practical way.

She has designed a prototype “homeless wrap” which she believes will be waterproof, fire-proof, very-well insulated, lightweight and cheap to manufacture.

And now she is hoping her wrap will be adopted for use by the different national organisations who work with the homeless sleeping on the street. It is also something with potential for disaster zone situations.

The “homeless wrap”, Emily explained to the Limerick Leader, involves bubble-wrap sandwiched between aluminium foil which is then coated in borax to make it inflammable.

Emily, who is the daughter of Margaret and Coleman Duffy and a student at Desmond College, Newcastle West, has also seen her project accepted for this year’s national BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition.

“Homelessness has always been something I thought deeply about, and something which I always thought didn’t get enough attention from the media,” Emily said this Wednesday, just hours after she had told the nation about her project on RTE’s Morning Ireland.

Last year, she and some classmates did some fund-raising for McGarry House, the shelter for homeless people in Limerick and this inspired her further so that when it came to picking a project for the Young Scientist and Technology exhibition, the issue jumped out at her.

“You have to pick a problem and try and find ways to solve it,” she explained.

But Emily is no stranger to the Young Scientist and Technology competition.

She has had projects accepted in previous years, one on mirrors and another on the science of bubbles and their use in non-chemical cleaning.

Emily worked on her prototype wrap through her second year in school.

“We have done our own tests,” she continued, but she is now sending it to UL for further testing there.

She also hopes to go back to McGarry House and to other homeless shelters around Munster to see if they would be interested in using the wrap.

“Hopefully, they will want to distribute it,” she said. “It will be efficient to hand out at homeless shelters.”

Emily’s project is one of 17 projects from Desmond College that have been accepted for the 2015 BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition.

The school has outstripped all other Limerick schools , and most likely, every school in the country in the high number of projects accepted.

But Limerick itself is more than well represented. A total of ten Limerick schools will display projects at the exhibition.

The 47 projects out of a total of 550 represents an acceptance rate of 8% in a competition that is island wide.