00:00 Saturday 17 January 2009  Written by Leo MCMahon

Kinsale Community School celebrates another BT Young Scientist success

THERE was great jubilation at Kinsale Community School on Monday morning for the return of victorious duo John D. O'Callaghan and Liam McCarthy, second year pupils from Ballymartle, who were declared overall winners of the BT Young Scientist Competition at the weekend.Following on the national success in 2006 of Aisling Judge, Kinsale CS holds the distinction of being the first school in Ireland to have two national award winners. What's more, the school represented by 17 pupils, scooped 11 awards in the nine projects on display at the exhibition in the RDS, Dublin.

An Taoiseach Brian Cowen TD, accompanied by Chris Clark of BT, presented the farmers' sons with a cheque for €5,000, a Waterford Crystal trophy and the Patent Office's special award. The teenagers will go on to represent Ireland in the 21st European Union Young Scientists' contest in Paris in September.

Holding trophies aloft, John and Liam were greeted at the school entrance by principal Sr. Mary Donovan, Mayor of Kinsale Dermot Collins and head of the science department Joan Crowley. It was followed by a huge welcome from the 700 pupils and staff when all the young scientists entered the packed to overflowing assembly hall, where Peter Hyde was master of ceremonies.

The two second year pupils' winning project was the development of a convenient test method for sematic cell count (SOC) and its importance in milk production, a very relevant and serious issue, which they as young farmers, are only too aware of on the day that the McCarthy farm also celebrated the birth of a calf which was appropriately named 'BT'.

"No words could describe how extraordinarily successful you were at this year's competition," said Sr. Mary, "but it is another indication of the wonderful spirit that existed between students and staff.

"You were all winners when your projects among 500 were accepted for exhibiting in Dublin out of around 1,600 submitted from all over Ireland. A lot of hard work including proposals, research, tests and conclusions were carried out and with the support of  your teachers, Eamonn Judge and Aisling (now a 5th year pupil), you brought your projects to the highest quality to win 11 prizes".


Sr. Mary then acknowledged each participant who was congratulated by the huge attendance.

Hannah McGovern and Roisin Daly, highly commended in the senior group social and behavioural category for their project, ' No sun, no fun, keep D in your diet', a statistical analysis of vitamin D in the Irish population.

Oliver Pemble, Jack Henderson and Paul Curtin (4th years),  highly commended in the intermediate biological and ecological category for their project, an investigation of the photosynthetic growth of algae in the presence of SO2 and NOx gases.

Lucy O'Donovan (3rd year pupil unable to attend but represented by her brother Niall), winner of the individual intermediate social and behavioural award and the Marie Keating Foundation award for her project, a statistical analysis of people's attitude towards cancer and the prevention of breast and lung cancer.

Daisy Pemble, Laura White and Therese O'Donoghue (1st years), winners of the junior technology award and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) award for their project, the development of a self-cleaning biologicial water filter for home use.

Paul Harrington (1st year), first prize in the chemical, physical and mathematical sciences individual junior section for his project, a study of the relationship between inflation, pressure and the performance of a football.

Aidan Doran (2nd year) presented an excellent project in the junior social land behavioural science section, a statistical study of the public awareness and acceptance of bluetooth proximity marketing.

Molly Gibson and Melissa O'Neill (2nd years), first prize winners for their project 'Are you loving your dog to death ?' in the social and behavioural junior section.

Anna Henderson and Darcy McGahan (2nd years) were highly commended in the junior social and behavioural category for their project, a statistical study of the influence of taste and labelling and the acceptability of low fat foods.

'Stars of the show', John D. O'Callaghan (aged 14), and Liam McCarthy (13), winners of the overall BT Young Scientist of the Year award and also the Patent Office Award in the biological and ecological sciences section, who received a standing ovation.

Sr. Mary congratulated everyone who entered the competition back in September, Eamonn Judge and Charlie Doran of Eli Lilly for their great support and encouragement, the parents and local community and especially the seven science teachers Joan Crowley, John Corcoran, Mairead Dullea, John O'Connor, Ger. Hogan, Tina Reynolds and Lois Harper.


The principal said it was the latest highlight in a very successful recent past for Kinsale CS which included excellent results in the Leaving Certificate examinations and the highly-acclaimed presentation of the musical 'Grease' to sell out audiences. Praising all students she added: "you all have so much potential, you can certainly make the world a better place and all the staff are very proud of you."

John D. O'Callaghan, Ballymartle, thanked everyone for the amazing welcome and, in addition to the abovementioned, also thanked BT and scientists from the Teagasc research facility at Moorepark, Fermoy, Drs. Phil Kelly, Donal O'Callaghan and Jimmy Flynn.  He added that their success proved that a practical and simple idea using basic apparatus could win and encouraged fellow students to enter the competition. 

Liam McCarthy, Glinny, Riverstick, concurred and specially mentioned Eamonn Judge, their parents,  over 50 dairy farmers in their locality who gave them milk samples and Belgooly Central  School, which first developed their interest in science.

Congratulations was extended by Mayor of Kinsale Dermot Collins who said the students brought honour to Kinsale and surrounding area, including Belgooly and Riverstick.

Like the Olympic Games, to qualify and participate were tremendous achievements. To not only win the top prize twice in four years but also bring home 11 awards from nine projects in 2009 was phenomenal and was down in no small way to the ethos of what was a true community school under the

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dynamic leadership since 1996 of Sr. Mary who, he declared, would make a great Minister for Education. A former employee of Eli Lilly, he also paid tribute to the company for helping to inculcate a science ethos at the school.

The mayor concluded by calling on Minister for Education Batt O'Keeffe to expedite the long awaited extension to Kinsale CS, now with 700 but originally built for 450 pupils and announced that the town council would also be honouring the students with a civic reception.

Principal of Belgooly Central School, Eamonn Kelly, told The Southern Star that John and Liam were "well rounded" youngsters who both played the accordeon as members of Comhaltas and Gaelic games, representing Sliabh Rua in the under-14 county hurling final.

Science teacher Joan Crowley said all pupils who travelled to Dublin did their school and locality proud and, in addition to the exhibition, enjoyed a night out in Funderland and a celebration in the Ballsbridge Court Hotel. A group of 43 students also visited the RDS. In addition to overall winner, there were four first places in categories, three special awards and three highly-commended.

Congratulations to the overall winners was also extended by president of Macra na Feirme, Catherine Buckley, and Irish Farmers' Association president Padraig Walsh, who expressed the hope that the project will be taken a step further because it had practical potential to reduce the time consuming cost of SOC testing for farmers.

Chris Clark, head of BT said the winning project not only showed ingenuity and creativity but was a prime example of an innovative idea that had commercial viability.

The attendance at the reception in Kinsale inclued Liam's mother, Ann McCarthy, and his brother, Tadgh (his father Edward was busy on the farm calving a cow) and John was accompanied by his parents, Aisling and Jerermiah O'Callaghan, who have experienced at first hand the considerable costs arising from SOC testing.

Overall, Cork schools won 42 awards. Scoil Mhuire gan Smal, Blarney, took the ComReg special prize and two other awards, while Colaiste Choilm, Ballincollig, had five highly-commended projects, two runners-up and a display award.

There were also awards for Bandon Grammar School  (a runner-up and two highly-commended), Carrigaline Community School (highly-commended), Douglas CS (highly-commended), St. Francis College, Rochestown; Ardscoil Ui Urmoltaigh, Bandon, and other schools in the city, north and east Cork.

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