Wifi affects plant growth, find budding scientists

Two budding scientists concerned about the effect of electricity pylons on crops have found that electromagnetic radiation from wifi has a significant effect on plant growth.

Oisín Lavell and Darragh Todd, St Macartan's College, Monaghan, looked at wifi's impact on seed growth

Third-year students, Oisín Lavell and Darragh Todd, both 14, from St Macartan’s College, Monaghan, used lettuce seeds for their project and a wifi modem used in most homes.

“Pylons emit the same radiation waves as wifi so we wanted to see if the wifi had an effect on plant growth,” said Darragh.

The duo, whose project is one of 550 entered in this year’s BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition, grew the lettuce seeds in controlled environments.

“We limited the conditions so they would be the same, but one seed tray was exposed to wifi and the other wasn’t,” said Oisín.

After 42 days, the students found 24 seeds germinated in the wifi zone and 38 in the controlled one.

They also found a significant difference in leaf area, and believe their findings could add to concern about Eirgrid’s plans to build a huge number of pylons around the country.

Meanwhile, Kian Hennessy, 14, from Coláiste Choilm, Ballincollig, Co Cork, believes wet wipes are an environmental menace.

He used water-filled glass jars to show how they take too long to decompose and how they cause blockages in sewage systems.

“I incubated the wet wipes over a 17-month period and shook them to replicate flushing four times a day for 30 seconds. They still remain intact,” he said.

Emily Duffy, 14, from Desmond College, Limerick, looked at how ultrasonic micro bubbles can be used to clean surfaces instead of chemicals.

“I can show how much better the micro bubbles clean surfaces instead of soap and water. It is a science that will soon be part of our life,” she said.

Students at Sacred Heart Secondary School, Clonakilty, Co Cork, developed a way of measuring Ireland’s development in terms of gross national happiness.

Kate Ryan, 16, Shona Hayes, 15 and Alice O’Regan, 16, measured the happiness of people living in Clonakilty to show why more emphasis should be put on the wellbeing of the country’s citizens.

“We feel gross domestic product only measures the value of goods and services. There is no indicator in the country to let us know how we are getting on and how satisfied we are with various issues, such as health and education,” said Kate.

Using a happiness scale of zero to one, they found that Clonakilty scored 0.84 — a very happy town.

Transition-year students at Christ King Secondary School in Cork, developed a solar-powered robot that detects moisture underground. Margaret Barrett, 16, Ruth Kilgallon, 15 and Aisha Suleman, 16, believe the robot, that has a soil moisture sensor, could be used in the developing world where the availability of water is a major problem.

The students’ interest in robotics began when Aisha and Margaret participated in a robotics technology course.

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