Secret lives of crows and badgers are winners at Intel Mini Scientist

4 Feb 201791 Shares

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Emily O’Doherty from Bridgetown National School, Co Clare, with her team’s project, ‘The Secret Life of Crows’, for the Mini Scientist competition. Image: Marc O’Sullivan

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Primary school students across Ireland showed they had the right scientific stuff at the Intel Mini Scientist grand final.

The Intel Mini Scientist, which is now in its 10th year, gives primary school students from fourth, fifth and sixth class the chance to explore science through project-based learning and exhibitions.

Across the 2016/2017 programme, 5,000 primary school students from 100 schools in 15 counties took part, and almost 2,000 projects were exhibited.

‘WB Yeats said that education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire, and competitions like this provide you the opportunity to light that fire’
– RICHARD BRUTON, TD

For the grand final yesterday (3 February 2017) at the Helix in Dublin City University, 24 of the top projects were judged by a panel from industry and academia.

The projects included visual displays, projects books and practical experiments based on a scientific area aligned with the national primary science curriculum.

Badger: Victim or villain?

Secret lives of crows and badgers are natural winners at Intel Mini Scientist Grand Final

From left: Winners of the Intel Mini Scientist competition Shane Leahy, Sean O’Brien, Marc O’Brien and Eoin Carey from St John’s National School in Cratloe, Co Clare, pictured with president of DCU Prof Brian MacCraith, Minister for Education Richard Bruton, TD, and Intel general manager Eamonn Sinnott. Image: Marc O’Sullivan

The overall winner was St John’s National School in Cratloe, Co Clare, for the project, ‘Badger: Victim or Villain?’, an investigation into the behaviour and habitat of the Irish badger.

Runner-up awards went to Belmayne Educate Together in Castleknock, Co Dublin, for a study of traffic lights; St Nicholas’ Primary School in Longwood, Co Meath, for a study of plant power; and Alexandra College, Co Dublin, for a feasibility study into the use of drones in the county.

‘The students here today represent the top 1pc of the entire competition and that’s something of which you should all be very proud’
– EAMONN SINNOTT

Special awards were given to St Laurence’s National School in Sallins, Co Kildare; Timahoe National School, Co Laois; Bridgetown National School, Co Clare; and Castleknock Educate Together National School, Co Dublin.

The four winning students – Sean O’Brien, Marc O’Brien, Eoin Carey and Shane Leahy – explored how the myth of badgers spreading bovine TB was exposed, and an alternative to culling in the form of vaccination. The students also developed a badger repellent based on their own in-depth investigations.

As part of the prize for the overall winning project, St. John’s National School will receive a grant of €1,000 from Intel.

“Science is all about asking questions about how the world around us works; asking can improve the way the world works and finding new ways to do things differently,” said Education Minister Richard Bruton, TD.

“Today is a day to celebrate some of our best young people, some of the best primary schools in the country and some of the best ideas. I congratulate you all on this exciting journey. WB Yeats said that education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire, and competitions like this provide you the opportunity to light that fire.”

Intel Ireland general manager Eamonn Sinnott said that his company donates, on average, €1.3m every year to the Irish education system to support initiatives across primary, secondary, third and fourth level.

“Mini Scientist is our biggest education programme and looking around the exhibition today and feeling the energy in this room, it’s not hard to see why that is. The students here today represent the top 1pc of the entire competition and that’s something of which you should all be very proud.”

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com