Shíofra Ryan, St. Brendan’s Community School, Birr
The amazing thing about the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition and indeed science in general, is that it never ceases to surprise you! Before my BT Young Scientist experience I would have never thought that I had a science bone in my body. Simply because I imagined science being difficult equations and experiments, being carried out on far away labs that I would never have any connection to. But the amazing thing about the BT Young Scientist is that it proves that there is science in everything, and everywhere in the world around us.
I looked to my favourite past time – camogie. I love playing it but the BT Young Scientist got me to look at it in a different light, and got me thinking outside the box. Perhaps one of the most common problems in hurling and camogie is injuries. So for my project called ‘An Tionchar – The Impact Hurling Boot’ (meaning impact in Irish), I designed and tested a boot specifically to meet the needs of hurling and camogie players. Currently the boot that is worn by hurling and camogie players is designed to meet the needs of a soccer player. Hurling and soccer are two very different sports, and to prove this I compared and analysed the movements of Kilkenny senior hurler Richie Hogan and the then Liverpool footballer Steven Gerrard. From this I gathered how Steven Gerrard carried out twice as many straight line runs as Richie Hogan did. When carrying out straight line runs you use what is called plantarflexion and dorsiflexion movements of the ankle, which is basic up and down movement, and for which the support in a soccer boot is sufficient.
However Richie Hogan carried out three times as many twists and turns as Gerrard, carrying out twists and turns uses the subtler joints in your ankle and therefor need more support, as last year alone 11% of all injuries in hurling were ankle related. This is why An Tionchar contains an inbuilt ankle support that allows full movement, but prevents the ankle from twisting and collapsing. One of the other main components of An Tionchar is the fully shock absorbent insole and arch support, this is because once again Richie Hogan carried out three times as many jumps as Gerrard in the video analysis. The insole reduces the shock going up through the spine when a player lands on a hard ground from jumping up to catch a ball. This shock causes injuries such as disc degeneration, sciatica and arthritis.
I took my love of sport and turned it into science. The BT Young Scientist is not just about your project, you go on a journey with your project way beyond the classroom, it takes you to unexpected places, and you meet some incredible people and the four day exhibition in the RDS is one of the most amazing experiences, one that I will never forget. The BT Young Scientist has given me the opportunity of a lifetime and a platform to pursue my dreams. It has taken me on a journey I could have never imagined, and I’ve made friends that I will have forever. If I have learned anything from this experience it would have to be, believe in yourself, take the leap of faith and go for it, just remember anything is possible!
The first picture on the left shows the shock going through the body after the subject landed and the red dot shows the heel strike.
In the second picture the subject is wearing a shock absorbent insole as in An Tionchar and the heel strike has reduced to an amber colour.