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BTYSE: Young scientists investigate effects of the chemicals in hand sanitizer on our skin

BTYSE: Young scientists investigate effects of the chemicals in hand sanitizer on our skin

Students Paul Murphy, Isabelle Fitzsimons & Dara Heaphy

TARBERT Comprehensive School has a three-pronged approach to this week’s BT Young Scientist Exhibition.

All of their projects focus either on life or the landscape around them, including Covid-19.

 Isabelle Fitzsimons, Dara Heaphy and Paul Murphy’s entry is called, The effects of the chemicals in hand sanitizer on our skin.

“We tested a number of different sanitizers and found that the sanitizers with higher alcohol concentrations caused dry and itchy skin but the sanitizers with lower alcohol concentrations had little or no effect on our skin. These results, we feel, could influence those purchasing sanitizers in the future particularly if you are an individual who suffers from a known skin condition such as eczema,” said the TY students.

Megan Lynch and Cáit Carmody called their project, How participation in extracurricular activities affects grades.

“We decided to do this project because we are both heavily involved in sport both in school and also at club level outside of school hours. When lockdown hit in March we personally found that we struggled to motivate ourselves and our drive to work and study definitely decreased throughout this time. We wondered if there could be a link between the lack of physical activities and our motivation as all activities that we would have been involved in had come to a halt?” they said.

When they returned to school in September the TY students set about investigating if extracurricular activities affect students' academic performance. They collected valuable information from a range of individuals including parents, teachers and students.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who took time out of their busy schedules to help us with our project.

“While we could not say definitively from our research that involvement in extracurricular activities improves student grades we did however find that students who participated in extracurricular activities experienced both mental and physical improvements including increased concentration levels, better focus and more importantly improved self-esteem and confidence levels and were not disadvantaged in terms of average grades achieved,” said Megan and Cáit

Siblings, Paula Eve and Jim Culhane’s  Young Scientist entry is called,  Rushes – a new energy source for heating homes?

“Rushes are presently seen by many as a weed and a liability on farms whereby farmers often end up having to spray or cut them which can prove costly. Our project investigates if a liability can be turned into an asset and so we set about investigating the potential for baled rushes to generate heat energy,” said the two first year students. Paula Eve and Jim researched topics such as decomposition and heat prior to carrying out a number of experiments. “Our results, we believe, could influence local farmers to provide baled rushes for heating their own homes together with other local homes and small scale businesses within a 20km radius and is a concept that perhaps could assist in providing a much needed solution to climate change,” said Paula Eve and Jim.

Principal of Tarbert Comprehensive School, Richard Prendiville said he is extremely proud of the three student groups who qualified for the BT Young Scientist Competition this year, together with the hard working teachers involved in guiding the students since the process began back in September. “A special word of thanks must go to Rachel O’Donoghue and Joanne Mulvihill, members of the school science department, who dedicated numerous hours of their own free time for the benefit of students involved,” said Mr Prendiville, who wished the students the best of luck.

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