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Mayo’s bright ‘Young Scientists’ demonstrate their enterprising spirit

Mayo’s bright ‘Young Scientists’ demonstrate their enterprising spirit

Trevor Quinn

Three enterprising Castlebar students and a Charlestown student were amongst those honoured for their excellent investigative projects at the BT Young Scientist and Technology exhibition in Dublin last week.
The three St Gerald’s College students Luke Benson, Donnachadh Barry and Paul McDonagh have spent the past 18 months developing a mobile phone application which assists people who are liable to collapse. They were awarded second place in the senior technology section.
The trio are no strangers to achieving success. In May they were part of the St Gerald’s Robotics Team who were named ‘The Most Inspirational Team in the World’ at the first LEGO League World Festival in St Louis, Missouri, USA. Their win made national headlines as the competition attracted 140,000 participants from 56 countries around the world.
The fifth year students developed and tested their iCollapse app in collaboration with software company SAP using an accelerometer found in a phone to detect for example whether a person with  epilepsy or diabetes has fallen. Teacher Declan Askin also supported and advised the young men throughout.
The phones are programmed to communicate a warning signal which notifies people in the surrounding area should a collapse occur. Videos of how their app works can be viewed at teamsapireland.com
Charlestown student Rebecca McDonnell also secured huge acclaim for Mayo when she won a prestigious individual award at the BT Young Scientist and Technology exhibition in Dublin.
The second year St Joseph’s Secondary School student claimed fourth place for her innovative project in the junior biological and ecological section.
Rebecca’s project consisted of an investigation into the posturing behaviour of farrowing sows and the relationship and bond between the sows and their piglets. Rebecca finished in fourth place overall in the exhibition, while a number of her fellow students also achieved fantastic results.
Speaking to The Mayo News about the success of St Joseph’s students in the competition in recent years principal Austin Egan said he would like to congratulate Rebecca and all of the other students from the school who performed so admirably. He added that he would also like to pay tribute to the hard work which teacher Maria McHugh has invested in the competition in recent years.
He said, “I would like to pay tribute to our teacher Maria McHugh and acknowledge the hard work that she has put in to this. She puts an awful lot of time in to the ‘Young Scientist’ competition every year and we are consistently knocking on the door for honours year on year.”
BT received a record number of entries to the 2012 BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition with 1,743 ideas entered by 3,842 students from 32 different counties.