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We tracked the progress of these Young Scientist projects - here's how they got on

More than 4,200 students entered the competition this year.

TODAY IS THE final day of the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition.

More 4,200 students entered the competition this year – 60% of which were female, and there was the highest-ever number of entries from DEIS schools.

Before the competition began, we spoke to some entrants as they put the finishing touching to their projects before Christmas. We caught up with them at the show this week to see the finished product.

Powering education in refugee camps

Anna O’Connor (17) from St Angela’s College in Cork wanted to tackle a project that could really help people.

She developed a low-cost device to improve access to educational aids in refugee camps and third-world countries.

It has a tiny, simple computer, on to which videos can be loaded. It’s powered by a lead alarm battery, along with some other simple electronics.


Here’s how it looks, and how basic is in inside:


Anna hopes to continue engaging with charities with the aim of device being used in a real-world scenario.

Battling the Fall Armyworm

photo5892999845612990308 The bottle to trap the worms.

This is a simple project with a big aim. Three students from Desmond College in Limerick have developed a device to help combat the fall armyworm, an invasive species causing significant damage to crops in parts of Africa.

Shane Baguio , Joanne Lai and Marcelina Krzywdzinska made two devices, one which is low cost and another which is pretty much no cost.

Both are based around plastic bottles, which when filled with mature leaves, trap the insects at the bottom of the plant. One includes a light to further attract the insects.

One important change has been implemented since we last spoke to them – instead of using batteries for the lights, they’re using a low-cost solar charger, further cutting down the cost.

photo5892999845612990309 The solar charger. Source: TheJournal.ie

Cleaning the kitchen

Ellie Cunnenn (14) from Coláiste Chiaráin in Limerick set out to find which kitchen surface stays free of bacteria the longest after being cleaned.

She was inspired to research this after a visit to hospital. This is where her research was originally going to focus before discovering that hospitals are very particular about what surfaces are installed, based on their ability to resist the growth of bacteria.

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photo5892999845612990311 Ellie Cunnenn at her stall.

Her initial findings have held true to the end: Granite surfaces were ‘definitely’ the best at resisting microbial growth, Ellie said. She believes this is because they are often sealed to prevent stains and other damage – this is something which needs to be replaced periodically.

However, granite can be expensive – Ellie said she’d likely opt for a ceramic gloss finish instead.

One unexpected finding from the study was the presence of the dangerous staphylococcus aureus bacteria. This is the ‘SA’ part of superbug MRSA, although the strain found in Ellie’s experiment isn’t necessarily resistant to antibiotics.

Stopping toys from being hacked

Amy Fallon and Andrea Whyte from Athlone Community College built a device to spot if a smart toy is being hacked.

It was centred around machine learning and artificial neural networks – essentially allowing a computer work like a brain. It learned the normal behaviour on the toy, and could learn what to flag as suspicious behaviour.

They used what’s known as an auto-encoder to speed up this learning process – something vital as it’s possible for a brand new toy to be hacked, and parents must be able to make sure the toy is safe as soon as possible – and they are now certain it works and could be used in a real-life situation.

They’ve also turned it into a physical device, with lights to indicate the risk level.


About the author:

Nicky Ryan

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