Young Einsteins look to the sky for inspiration

Young Einsteins were buzzing with enthusiasm about their wacky and wonderful projects yesterday.

Students from Desmond College in Limerick were all in a flap about their study of the lifestyle, behaviour, and intelligence of crows.

Fifth-year students Lisa Barrow and Orla Condon said they noticed crows always arrived at the school during their lunch break.

The 16-year-olds investigated and found that the crows stayed away from the school at weekends. “The crows realised that there is no food when there are no students about,” said Orla.

The girls also found that crows can use traffic lights, recognise facial features, and make tools.

A Kerry student found that eye colour affected reaction times.

Gabriel Galway, 16, a transition-year student at Presentation Secondary School, Milltown, who likes drawing manga comic characters, wondered about their over-the-top eye colours.

“There is a theory that eye colour can affect reaction time, so I wanted to investigate further,” he said.

He found that dark-eyed people performed better at fast reaction tasks while light-eyed people were better at self-paced tasks.

“I used a metre-stick and measured where people caught it. I tested 230 people — teachers and students in my school — and 78% who were dark-eyed scored above average,” he said.

“For the self-paced task I used a mini-golf course, with people given three attempts to hit the ball into the hole. People with lighter eyes performed the task twice as well as those with darker eyes.”

Three second-year students from Castletroy College in Limerick examined naturally occurring antiseptic extracts from plants.

Gráinne O’Mahony, Kate O’Brien, and Siobhán Brady, all aged 14, found that mint, clove, and thyme kill bacteria in a similar way.

They found that an anti-bacterial gel could be created by combining seaweed and clove extracts. They believe it could eventually be used commercially.

Computer buff Lorcan O’Brien, 13, a first-year student at Kinsale Community School in Cork, had an impressive project showing how energy could be harvested from a PC.

He inserted a microchip that converts the heat generated by a computer into energy that can be used to power small devices.

“I really think technology companies would be interested in my project as computers become more advanced with more stuff packed into processors in a smaller area so the amount of heat will be increased,” he said.

Students from Regina Mundi College in Cork have redesigned the original crutch with interchangeable tri-walker heads to make the transition from walking frame to crutch easier.

Fourth-year students Aoife Kennelly, Sophie Collins and Orla Lynch, all aged 16, said the crutches were designed for people recovering from a serious operation like a hip or knee replacement.

Aoife Sloan, 13, and Ciara Keenan, 14, third-year students from St Louis Grammar School in Down, have produced a buzzer to remind motorists to keep both hands on the steering wheel. The device is designed to prevent road accidents caused by drivers texting or using other devices.

“When you look at your mobile phone, that takes about 4.6 seconds, the equivalent of driving the length of a football field,” said Aoife.

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