Kinsale Community School's winning formula in Young Scientist competition

Emer Hickey, Sophie Healy-Thow and Ciara Judge lift the BT Young Scientist overall trophy aloft as they are welcomed back to Kinsale Community School on Tuesday morning. The school won the overall award for the third time in seven years at the RDS in Dubl
Emer Hickey, Sophie Healy-Thow and Ciara Judge lift the BT Young Scientist overall trophy aloft as they are welcomed back to Kinsale Community School on Tuesday morning. The school won the overall award for the third time in seven years at the RDS in Dublin last weekend.

BY LEO McMAHON

THE secret formula that has earned for Kinsale Community School a unique hat trick of national wins in the BT Young Scientist Competition over the past seven years was celebrated once again on Tuesday at a rapturous homecoming for 2013 overall champions Emer Hickey, Sophie Healy-Thow and Ciara Judge and their fellow 35 competitors who did the school, town and county so proud at the exhibition in RDS, Dublin, last week with success also in 15 other categories.

The three third year pupils, in a statistical investigation, used a diazotroph bacteria found in the roots of certain plants to speed up the germination of cereal crops such as wheat, oats and barley. They found germination could be speeded up by 50%, a process one of the judges said, could have implications for global attempts to address food security.

Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn presented them with a Waterford Crystal trophy and a cheque for €5,000 having come top out of 549 entries which made it to Dublin. The trio must now concentrate on the Junior Certificate but hope to develop their project and obtain a patent.

The achievement was particularly special but also poignant for Ciara Judge. Her sister and UCD science student Aisling was national winner in 2006 and it was only after the ceremony that she learned of the passing of her grandfather Denis Harrington, aged 95, a native of Skibbereen on January 10th.

A guard of honour of pupils greeted the three girls on arrival who were escorted to a packed school hall.

Proud principal Sean O Broin pointed out that of over 5,000 entries submitted in September, 70% were refused but in the case of Kinsale CS 70% of its candidates were successful who triumphed with 16 awards.

‘From small beginnings in 2002 when we had one project (Ciara’s brother Edward Judge who won a category prize) we have grown to be the most powerful school in this competition.  We have proven once again that as a united team we are an unstoppable force. Let us look forward to the European Union Young Scientist competition in Prague in September and wish our students well’, said Mr O Broin.

Chairperson of the board of management, Sr Rita joined with the principal in congratulating the pupils on success of their mammoth task of bringing their projects to Dublin and also the teachers, parents and helpers.

‘This is a perfect example of community togetherness in its best and widest sense. I have no doubt that it has been a wonderful learning experience through developing organisational and relationships skills and friendships using your unique gifts of creativity and curiosity. May you continue to use them’.

There was a big cheer for science teacher Shaun Jolly who said it was a phenomenal achievement to have 38 students who were wonderful ambassadors. He also thanked Mr O Broin, vice principal Kathleen O’Brien, all fellow teachers, mentors Bertie Pearse, Eamon Judge, Aisling Judge, Lucey O’Donovan and Anne Marie Curtin who were part of a rollercoaster week - including ice skating - that he would never forget.

Charlie Dolan of the Irish Science Teachers’ Association and Eli Lilly also congratulated all involved in what was a real team effort.  He also concurred with what Ciara Judge said just after the award was won last Friday: ‘This isn’t just geeky science.  This is real life’ and encouraged all other students to have a go adding ‘the flame of science is well and truly ignited in Kinsale’.

Cllr Tony Cierans said it was ‘a massive moment of pride’ as a teacher and deputy mayor to salute the 38 heroes, adding that everyone who took part, regardless of prizes, was a winner and did ‘Kinsale – the Science School’ and their town proud. ‘You are amazing young people, an inspiration and role models to us all.’

One of the students Fiona O’Donovan said one had to be in Dublin to experience the electric atmosphere of a memorable week while Faye Murphy expressed a vote of thanks to all concerned for their fantastic support. including past overall winners Liam McCarthy, John O’Callaghan and Aisling Judge, the Holly and Judge families.   Floral bouquets were presented to Maura Judge and to Anita Holly, wife of Sean who attended with their nine months old baby Ella.

Speaking to The Southern Star, Eamon Judge said the main object was to maximise the number of pupils who could get to Dublin and sample the unforgettable experience of being part of the Young Scientist Exhibition, which next year will be 50 years old. Over the past 12 years, 133 Kinsale students had done just that.

The attendance included Padraig Fitzgerald of Kinsale Peace Project, Canon David Williams, Fr Robert Young PP, Tony Greenway, Virgil Horgan and Charles Henderson.  Other science teachers who have guided the students are Tina Reynolds, John O’Connor, John Corcoran, Margaret Cooney, Mairead Dullea, Don O’Shea, Ger Hogan, Blainaid McCartan and Anne Marie Curtin.

The other Kinsale CS exhibitors in Dublin were: Special award (Psychological Society of Ireland) and individual junior award winner:  James Barry – a statistical analysis of the public’s awareness of blood sugar levels and their implications on health

Junior group winner – social and behavioural : Marieke Buckley and Mackenzie Cahill- A statistical analysis to investigate the usage of life jackets on commercial fishermen.  3rd place - social and Behavioural: Luke Henderson, Tadhg McCarthy, Paul O Donovan- Flat or not: a statistical study towards the public’s awareness of tyre pressure in motor vehicle.  Individual junior 3rd place, social and behavioural: Miachaella O’Driscoll – a scientific study of public attitudes to and awareness of generic medications.

Highly commended - Faye Murphy and Fiona O Donovan – a statistical investigation into consumers’ knowledge of and attitudes towards the rights and laws in place for consumers in Ireland today.  Sophie Sinclair, Zoe Fennell and Sarah O’ Callaghan – The development evaluation of a translucent sun visor for automotive use.  Eoin Hurley, Emily McCarthy and Eimear Nyhan – The perfect CV: a study of the elements of a curriculum vitae and their impact on employability.

Sinead Walsh, Micheala O’Connell and Meadhbh O Leary- Does success breed success and failure breed failure ?   Rachel Lysaght and Sophie Lisson  - Old school versus new school: A study of the use of tablet technology in the modern classroom.  Frank and Kane Curtin and Mia Kovacs – Vegetarianism: A statistical study.  Emily Kellet and Jenny Walsh – a statistical study into the impact of using music and rhythm to memorise academic content.  Ciara and Finn Manning and Molly Dunican – a comparative study of childhood obesity in Ireland and France.   Abigail Jeffrey and Ava O’Connor – a statistical study of people’s attitudes towards recycling and if these views since the recession.

Display award - Marie O’ Leary and Alannah Humphreys: a statistical study of people’s attitudes regarding e books versus paper made books. Other entrants were Lorcan O’Brien – Energy harvesting from a PC microprocessor using the thermoelectric effect, Amy Shanahan and Jessica Sheehan. Over 45,000 people visited the exhibition.

Cork South West Deputy Michael McCarthy (Labour) congratulated Kinsale CS and other schools from West Cork which received awards. These included Clonakilty Community College and Sacred Heart Secondary, Clonakilty; Mount St Michael, Rosscarbery; Colaiste Pobail Beanntrai, Colaiste an Toirbhirte and Bandon Grammar School.

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