BT Young Scientist winners selected as Google Science Fair Global finalists

8 Aug 20145 Shares

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Ciara Judge, Sophie Healy-Thow and Émer Hickey presented with their Rising Star awards by Eamonn Sinnott, general manager, Intel Ireland, at Silicon Republic's Women Invent Tomorrow event in Dublin in June. Photo by Conor McCabe Photography

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The 2014 Google Science Fair Global finalists have been announced and, among the 15 projects selected from teenagers around the world, Ireland’s BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition winners are among them.

The Google Science Fair finalists range in age from 13 to 18, and 2013 BTYSTE winners Ciara Judge, Émer Hickey and Sophie Healy-Thow will compete in the 15 to 16 age category with their project entitled Combating the Global Food Crisis: Diazotroph bacteria as a cereal crop growth promoter.

The girls’ project investigated the use of diazotroph bacteria as a cereal crop germination and growth aid. They carried out an extensive study on crops of wheat, oats and barley and statistical analysis of their results indicated that naturally occurring Rhizobium strains of the diazotroph bacteria family accelerated germination by up to 50pc and, in the case of barley, increased yields by 74pc. Not only could this discovery address food poverty, it could also reduce agriculture’s environmental footprint by reducing the use of fertiliser.

A video by Ciara Judge, Sophie Healy-Thow and Émer Hickey explaining their project

Life-changing prizes on offer

The Science Fair competition is Google’s way of encouraging the next generation of scientists and engineers.

Next month, the selected finalists will travel to California to compete at Google headquarters for the three age category awards and the overall grand prize, which includes a 10-day National Geographic Expedition to the Galapagos Islands, a visit to the Virgin Galactic Spaceport in New Mexico, and US$50,000 in scholarship funding.

Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on 23 September, which will be live-streamed on the Science Fair YouTube channel and on the competition website.

From 1 September, visitors to the website will also be allowed to select their favourite project for the Voter’s Choice Award.

Rising stars

The Kinsale Community School students have been on a winning streak since they took home the top prize in the 2013 BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition.

They went on to win first prize in biology at the European Union Contest for Young Scientists in Prague last September, and each of them was presented with a Rising Star award at Silicon Republic’s Women Invent Tomorrow event this summer after being named as ‘Ones to Watch’ on our list of 100 Top Women in STEM.

The three young scientists have also wowed crowds at a number of speaking engagements over the past year, including Accenture’s International Women’s Day celebration and the Excited digital learning festival.

Women Invent Tomorrow is Silicon Republic’s campaign to champion the role of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. It has been running since March 2013, and is kindly supported by Accenture Ireland, Intel, the Irish Research Council, ESB, Twitter, CoderDojo and Science Foundation Ireland.

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Elaine Burke is managing editor of Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com