A SCIENCE teacher at Schull Community College was awarded for her expertise at this year’s BT Young Scientist competition – and she dedicated her win to her students.
Lara Kelly was just one of the many success stories to come out of West Cork in this year’s prestigious competition, which saw the overall prize go to Simon Meehan of Colaiste Choilm in Ballincollig.
Lara, a teacher at the Schull school for the past 10 years, was presented with the BT Educator of Excellence award for her dedication and expertise in guiding students of the college in the social and behavioural sciences category in particular.
A modest Lara said it was all down to her students: ‘It was all thanks to their work and success over the past few years that got us here.’
‘The competition is a great way for students to work outside the curriculum. It gives them a taste of what research is like and fosters independent work and thought which spills into other areas of their life, and it also builds confidence,’ said Lara.
In total, the school won an impressive five awards, including one of the eight main awards at the exhibition, the Intel award for outstanding work in the technology category.
That went to fifth year student Fionn Ferreira, from Ballydehob, who won an all-expenses trip to the USA where he will represent Ireland at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in May.
He also won first prize in the senior chemical, physical and mathematical sciences category, with his project which addressed the issue of microplastics in our waters.
He was also presented with the Intellectual Ventures Insightful Invention award for effectively having the best invention at the exhibition.
Áine Levis, Joe Arundel McSweeney and Niamh Connolly were highly commended in the social and behavioral category for their project which investigated the emotional and physical difficulties Irish teenagers face due to a lack of sexual education. The group were also presented with a special award, the Higher Education Authority (HEA) award.
Meanwhile, students in Bandon Grammar School also fared well, with a prize going to Holly Warren, Emily Jane O’Mahony and Eabha Crowley, for their project ‘Are You Ready For Life?’
Fellow student Gregory Tarr won two prizes for his project regarding technology and dementia patients.
Bandon’s St Brogan’s College enjoyed a 100% success rate this year – their only project won the chemical, physical and mathematical junior group first place award which went to Rachel Lordan and Emma Kelly for their project on water quality.
Science teacher Karen Keohane said the entire school community was delighted with their greatest success in recent years.
Clonakilty Community College’s strong science culture was recognised with an award for Padraic Cullinane, James Moloney and Conn Dineen for their project on microplastics on the local coast.
There was further success for the school when the technology intermediate group second place award went to Oliwier Krawczyk, Nikola Tarczalowicz and Sean Cahalane for their project which saw students combine various games consoles into one system for less than €50 – which would mean people wouldn’t have to buy them separately, explained teacher Patrick O’Keeffe.
Kinsale Community School is no stranger to taking honours here, and this year was no different, as they took 11 different prizes.
They included the biological and ecological junior individual first place award going to Sean Collins for his project on microplastics.
The social and behavioural junior individual second place Award went to Lily Fitzgerald for her project on dental phobia.
St Mary’s College in Macroom also enjoyed their greatest success to date, getting highly commended for three projects.
Science teacher Jennifer Butler said they were very proud to have eight projects and 18 girls taking part.
See also: page 10.