2nd Year Students from Cork Win BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition 2009

John D. O’Callaghan (aged 14) and Liam McCarthy (aged 13), 2nd year students from Kinsale Community School, Co Cork have won the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition 2009 with their project entitled, “The Development of a Convenient Test Method for Somatic Cell Count and its Importance in Milk Production”.

The announcement was made by An Taoiseach Brian Cowen T.D. and Chris Clark, CEO, BT at the awards ceremony held this evening at the RDS, Dublin 4.  John and Liam were entered in the Biological & Ecological Sciences category, Junior section.

An Taoiseach Brian Cowen accompanied by Chris Clark presented the group with a cheque for €5,000, a Waterford Crystal trophy and the opportunity to represent Ireland at the 21st European Union Contest for Young Scientists taking place in Paris this coming September.

“Never has this exhibition been so important. The students who win these awards are the natural resource that will power this island in 5, 10, 15 years time,” said Chris Clark, CEO, BT.  John and Liam’s project not only showed ingenuity and creativity but is a prime example of a innovative idea that has commercial viability.”

John and Liam’s project impressed the judges so much that it was a clear decision for them. “John and Liam are two farmers’ sons from Cork. They were concerned with the financial losses incurred if milk sold from their farms had high contents of somatic cells. Somatic cells reflect infection in the mammary gland of the cow and downgrades the processability of the milk during cheese making.

Current tests for somatic cells are expensive and slow. After searching the boys discovered that if a small amount of detergent is mixed with a fresh sample of milk the mixture becomes progressively more viscous as the somatic cell content of the milk rises. With this knowledge in mind they derived a simple apparatus that could be used by the farmer to quickly test the milk and determine its status. This will be of tremendous commercial help to farmers and is a marketable product. Thus what they have achieved is utterly practical and brilliant in its simplicity,” commented the judges.

Further awards presented tonight included Best Individual which went to Andrei Triffo, from Synge Street CBS for his Chemical, Physical & Mathematical category project in the Senior section entitled “Infinite Sums of Zeta Functions and Other Dirichlet Series.” He received a prize of €2,400 and a BT Perpetual Trophy.

The award for group runner-up went to Rhona Togher, Eimear O’Carroll and Niamh Chapman from Ursuline College, Sligo.  They were awarded €1,200 and a BT Perpetual trophy for their project entitled “The Sound of Silence – An Investigation into Low Frequency Therapy for Tinnitus Sufferers” entered in the Senior Section of the Chemical, Physical & Mathematical Sciences category.

The award for individual runner-up went to Henry Glass from Clongowes Wood College, Co Kildare for his project entitled “The Distribution of the Freshwater Limpet Ancylus Fluviatilis in a Short Stretch of the Moneycarragh River” entered in the Senior Section of the Biological & Ecological category.  He was awarded €1,200 and a BT Perpetual Trophy.

Other awards presented included a Commemorative award in memory of the late Fr. Tom Burke, one of the founders of the exhibition who sadly passed away in March 2008. This award entitled the Fr. Tom Burke Memorial Bursary Award of €1,000 to assist a student to progress their education went to Tommy Collison from Castletroy College, Co Limerick.

1,095 students competed this week in 500 projects from 31 counties across Ireland. The RDS has already welcomed thousands of visiting students, teachers, parents, and members of the general public this week and look forward to seeing even more tomorrow, as the exhibition continues until Saturday, 10th January 2009.  Doors are open from 9.30am to 5pm.

Submitted by: Fleishman-Hillard

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