Students give new lease of life to health of calves

A cleverly designed cattle tag project by second-level students has impressed judges in a science competition.

A team from Pobalscoil Na Tríonóide in Youghal, Co Cork, is the outright winner of the annual Merck Millipore School Science competition 2013.

Judges, from the company and University College Cork, praised the team’s innovative concept, saying they “were taken with the ingenuity of the invention”.

Agriscan is described as a new type of tag for calves, consisting of a QR code that can be scanned by any smartphone.

The QR code contains information on livestock and would be presented to a vet at time of testing or when the cow is sold.

The Agriscan project team was Oisin Keniry, Edmond O’Halloran, and Bobby McCarthy.

The adjudicators were Merck Millipore Cork pair Liz Henderson, head of site, and Joe Bergin, head of quality; and Jeremy Glennon, head of the Analytical Chemistry Department in UCC.

“It’s a fantastic project, many congratulations to the project team and their teachers,” said Prof Glennon.

“It’s a very clever technological design and the prototype displayed really demonstrates how this concept can be put to good use.”

The project’s source of inspiration was the three students’ farming back-grounds.

The inventive trio say the future of Agriscan lies with newborn calves — from the day the calf is born, information can be stored and will stay with the calf for the rest of their lives.

The winners beat competition from students representing five other local schools.

The competition is a science- and engineering-based support initiative sponsored by life science company Merck Millipore Cork.

Mr Bergin said the Carrigtwohill-based company was delighted to support the competition. “It’s a fun competition and its great to allow us all get energised about science which is so vital for the development of our economy.”

The wide range of projects on display at the final covered all aspects, from barefoot running to the importance of early sports education and the science of pirouettes.

Prof Glennon said: “The judges found the entries inspiring and innovative which is just what the competition needs.”


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