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Clon students win top science prize with LEDs

June 17th, 2015 12:30 PM

By Southern Star Team

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STUDENTS of the Sacred Heart Secondary School in Clonakilty have scooped the top prize at an international science Olympiad in the Netherlands, for their research into LED street lights.

Ellen Fitzgerald, Aoife Dolan and Niamh Nyhan represented Ireland at the seventh annual International Environment and Sustainability Project Olympiad (INESPO) in Amsterdam last week.

Having won the SEAI-sponsored INESPO award at the [email protected] national final in November 2014, the students saw off competition from 47 other countries to claim the top spot at the INESPO international final 2015.

Their project focused on the issue of energy efficiency and energy usage in street lighting. They discovered that there are an estimated 400,000 street lights in Ireland and the cost of street lighting throughout the country is on average €40m per annum.

Realising that LED bulbs are much more energy efficient than the bulbs currently used in street lamps, they set out to design an LED bulb that could be screwed directly into the standard street lamp fitting. As well as being more energy efficient, the LED bulb has a much longer life expectancy, thus cutting down on checking and replacement costs.

‘The students really developed their project since their win at SciFest 2014 and it shows that when students engage with STEM outside the classroom, they bring their learning to a new level and produce amazing results,’ said Sheila Porter, SciFest chief executive.

‘Ellen, Aoife and Niamh have done Ireland proud and with the cost savings that can be made by using their LED lightbulbs there is a great opportunity for us all to be more aware of the energy we use in our homes or businesses,’ she added.

Congratulating the students on their win, Aoife Cannon, the SEAI’s education programme executive said the standard of projects was extremely high and SEAI is so proud of their achievement. ‘They represented Ireland at the highest level and won. Their lightbulb is such a clever idea, and highlights how their generation is thinking.’

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