By Kieran O’Mahony
IT was a double celebration for Jennifer McCarthy from Kinsale Community School who scooped two awards at last week’s BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition in the RDS.
The 16-year-old Transition Year student impressed judges with her project entitled ‘Not What the Doctor Ordered – A Statistical Study Investigating Whether Cost Is The Main Incentive For Self-Medication.’
Jennifer won first place in the Intermediate Individual in the Social and Behavioural Science category and also won the prestigious Irish Research Council Special Award for her project, which she began last September.
‘This was my second time entering the competition as I was placed third when I was in second year, and I’m delighted to have won two awards. It was great my parents were up here too,’ Jennifer told The Southern Star.
‘I got the idea for my project last September when I read an article about Irish adults buying prescription drugs on the internet and avoiding going to the doctor or getting prescriptions. I decided to research a little bit more on it and found that there was no study that had investigated the cost issue involved and whether that was the main reason people went online to buy their medicines.’
Having undertaken a pilot survey to detect the validity of her proposed questions to people, Jennifer devised a final survey which she distributed to shopping centres around Cork and got 876 signatures from respondents.
‘From my study I found that 70% of the people questioned said that cost was the main incentive to make them avoid the doctor. Also the overall awareness by those surveyed towards the risk of self-medication is low with 49% admitting they were not aware of the potency of a medicinal product bought online,’ added Jennifer.
Kinsale Community School was well represented at this year’s competition with 22 projects taking part in what was a very successful year for its staff and pupils.
Students from across a number of West Cork schools also took part in this year’s competition. Caoimhe Sanchez, a Transition Year student from Bandon Grammar School impressed judges with her project to develop a simple home test to count faecal parasitic eggs in farm animals.
The hard work of Schull Community College’s science students, their mentors and teachers, also paid off as two of the five Schull projects that qualified for this year’s exhibition emerged victorious. Transition year student Fionn Ferreira scooped the Chemical Physical and Mathematical Individual 1st place award. His project, which investigated the antioxidant levels of different types of berries, was titled ‘Comparing antioxidant levels of berries grown under different conditions using the Briggs Rauscher reaction in conjunction with the photometer’.
Highly Commended at the exhibition were second years Asa Curran, Tiarnan Collins and Jack Ryan-Purcell, who carried out an investigation into carbon sequestration and agroforestry. They looked at how farmers could reduce their carbon footprint by planting trees in a system where they can still carry out agricultural activity under the trees. They were also presented with the Teagasc Award for Agroforestry.
West Cork was also represented at the Primary Science Fair which ran alongside the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition.
A study on improving the local bee population by pupils from Ardfield National School in Clonakilty was one of many interesting projects. The pupils sought to improve the habitat and attract more bumblebees and solitary bees by undertaking planting in a walled garden next to their school.