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Young scientists in UK competition

PUPILS from a North Clare school are to take part in an international science competition later this year, it emerged recently.
For the second time in the history of Mary Immaculate Secondary School, Lisdoonvarna, pupils will be taking part in the UK Young Scientist Competition, which is being held from March 10 to 13. The event is called the Big Bang and this year is being held in Manchester Central Convention Complex.
Last year, Darren O’Gorman from Kilfenora was the first pupil from the school to compete in the competition. He did so with a project entitled An Investigation of the Effects of Temporary Limestone Lakes (Turloughs) on leaf morphology of Ranunculus repens.
This year, the school is being represented by two projects. They were nominated to compete in the UK competition because of their success in the Northern Ireland Young Scientists competition in June 2009.
Megan Casey from Fanore and Amie Barrett from Lisdoonvarna are competing with a project entitled The effect of temperature change on the turning ability of starfish. This project has already won awards at the BT Young Scientist and Technology exhibition, as well as the Northern Ireland Young Scientists. They have also being given the Gold Crest Award by the British Association.
“Global warming has an effect on sea temperatures. One possibility is that the Gulf Stream could stop and our waters could become colder. We researched the effect of temperature on the righting ability of the local starfish species, Asteria rubens. We turned the starfish upside down in seawater at temperatures ranging from 5c to 14.5oC and timed their righting. Our results showed that the lower the temperature, the slower they turned,” the girls explained.
The second project is being exhibited by Megan Byrne and Sinéad McNamara, both from Lisdoonvarna. Their project is entitled Movement of Littorina littorea on two contrasting shores. They describe their project as “looking at the movement of Littorina littorea on two different shores in North Clare. We are looking at whether this movement is affected by position on the shore and the exposure of the shore.”
This project has also won an award at the Northern Ireland Young scientists. The two pupils were also given the Silver Crest Award by the British Association.
“The reason for the success of any of my students at young scientist competitions is their sheer commitment and hard work. It is proof that hard work does pay. These kids are not afraid of hard work. They know they are committing a lot of time from the very beginning and I expect a lot from them but they rise to the occasion,” commented teacher John Sims, who will accompany the pupils to the exhibition.
“It is harder to take honours in Northern Ireland because there are only two prizes for each age category. Last year in the junior one we finished as runners-up. In the middle age category we got the winner and runner-up medal. This is international recognition. It is recognition outside the jurisdiction. The last two years we have won the best biological project in Northern Ireland and it just shows the quality and the effort the students in the school here are putting into it that they are able to match the good ones in the North of Ireland as well,” he continued.
The Big Bang is the main science and engineering event in the UK. It features the newly established National Science Competition, the first ever UK Young Scientist of the Year and UK Young Technologist of the Year.
The Big Bang Fair will see over 600 students aged 13 to 19 displaying their work on 200 project stands. As well as taking part in the competition, the competitors will also have the opportunity to take part in inspiring workshops and talks.
Further details are available at www.thebigbangfair.co.uk.

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