Young Scientist 2016 case studies: Girls ‘manipulated’ by social media

Amira Abbas, Paulina Dauksaite, and Ieva Zaveckyte from Christ the King Girls Secondary School, Cork

Younger people are more influenced by social media, their parents should be aware.

That was what students from Cork’s Christ King Secondary School found when they surveyed 12 to 18-year-olds.

The three second-year students, Amira Abbas, 14, Ieva Zaveckyte, 13, and Paulina Dauksaite, 13, found social media had a greater effect on girls aged 12 to 13.

“Because they are younger, they are easily manipulated,” said Paulina, who said they surveyed 200 students for their project.

They found that 68% of 12- to 13-year-olds were on social media — 78% were aged 11 to 14 when they created their first media account, but 22% were aged five to 10.

Amira said that 10% of the younger group believed everything they saw online.

About one quarter of the younger users were affected by comments; they were more likely to have a negative body image and dieted more than the older groups.

A worrying finding was that 80% of the younger age group had accepted an unknown-friend request.

The survey found that Facebook is more popular with older students, while Instagram is more popular with 12 to 13-year-olds.

Paulina said parents should be teaching children from a young age about tolerance and to be proud of who they were.

“They don’t have to change to fit in and should not be judging others because of how they look,” she said.

Kinsale pupils showcase at RDS fair

Primary school children from two schools in Kinsale, Co Cork, wanting to preserve the bees and their natural environment were among 4,500 students at the RDS Primary Science Fair.

Fifth-class pupils from Scoil Naomh Eltin found that the 15-hectare Commogue marsh, a wildlife and bird sanctuary on the north bank of the River Bandon, prevents flooding in the area.

Sadbh Humphreys from Scoil Naomh Eltin, Kinsale, Co Cork, at the Eli Lilly, Cork-based pharmaceutical company stand
Sadbh Humphreys from Scoil Naomh Eltin, Kinsale, Co Cork, at the Eli Lilly, Cork-based pharmaceutical company stand

They also found the marsh, a two-minute walk from their school, was once considered for a housing development.

One of the pupils, Alana May Ewing, said they showed how the marsh was home to much wildlife and vegetation and how it was beneficial to the locality.

“It is a flood plain. We showed that as winter approached, the water level was rising so that soil soaks it up and prevents flooding in the local area,” said Alana.

Sixth-class pupils from SN Chóbh Chionn tSáile wanted to find out how Kinsale could stop the rapid decline in bees.

One of the pupils, Lily Fitzgerald said they got a local beekeeper to talk to them — they also sourced their information from the internet and books.

“The biggest reason for the decline is the use of pesticides. Bees are attracted to crops treated with pesticides and when it gets into their system they forget everything — where their hive is and where to get food,” said Lily.

“We must plant more bee- friendly plants like thrift, roses, lavender, and use something else instead of pesticides.”

Courses for horses to treat gastric ulcers

A teenager has found an effective and far cheaper way of treating gastric ulcers in horses.

Annie Madden, 14, a second-year student at Loreto College in Dublin, has previously worked on a prize-winning project using flavours to encourage horses to eat.

Annie Madden, Loreto College, St Stephens Green, with her project ‘Treating Gastric Ulcers in Horses’ at the BT Young Scientist Exhibition. Picture: Karl Hussey
Annie Madden, Loreto College, St Stephens Green, with her project ‘Treating Gastric Ulcers in Horses’ at the BT Young Scientist Exhibition.  Picture: Karl Hussey

She used a popular flavour — the spice fenugreek — and a few other ingredients to create a treatment for gastric ulcers.

“I found that my product treats gastric ulcers better than the leading brand. It is also cheaper — I can treat 200 horses for the same price,” she said.

Annie and her sister, Kate, 15, a fourth-year student at Loreto, now have a business called FeunHealth. They’re selling a month’s supply of the cure for €35 at the exhibition.

Annie says their product has been approved by the Olympic Council, the International Federation for Equestrian Sports, the Turf Club, and Jockey Club.

Annie said one particular flavour had some fantastic side-effects — it appeared to cure gastric ulcers in horses; up to 90% of racing horses suffer from this condition.

She explained that horses kept in a stable are often fed in bulk, so acid starts to break down the stomach lining, causing a gastric ulcer.

“I found that my product stuck to the stomach lining, protecting it against gastric juices. It also reduced gastric juices and slowed down the production of acid in the stomach.”

Annie said there was a lack of awareness about gastric ulcers in horses — only 3.5% are diagnosed with the condition but as many as three-quarters are affected.

It is no surprise Annie is interested in horses. Her grandfather, Mike Madden, from Liscarroll, Co Cork, has been breeding National Hunt horses for over 60 years.

Spelling it out: Phones affect literacy

Mobile phones are affecting children’s literacy.

That is what three 16-year-old transition-year students from Coláiste íde agus Iosef, Abbeyfeale, Co Limerick, found when they surveyed more than 200 fifth and sixth-class students in local primary schools. Laura Murphy, Anna O’Connell, and Laura Woulfe were shocked when they found a literacy age-difference of a year between children who used mobile phones and those who did not.

Students from Abbeyfeale presenting their findings on mobile phone usage and effect on literacy at the Young Scientist event
Students from Abbeyfeale presenting their findings on mobile phone usage and effect on literacy at the Young Scientist event

Anna said they gave the children at 10 local primary schools a questionnaire and a spelling test. Of the 207 children surveyed, just 50 did not have a mobile phone.

“We found that the average spelling age of students who own a mobile phone is 10.9, whereas the average age of students who don’t own a mobile phone is 11.8. That’s a year of a difference,” she said.

Laura Murphy said they were shocked by the finding.

“We believe our results are accurate, because we had a random sample size from children in our area.”

Their survey included students attending single-sex and co-education schools.

Laura Woulfe said young people should be encouraged to spend less time on mobile phones and not use auto- correct or predictive text.

“We all use mobile phones that have predictive text, but we are also good spellers — you learn how to spell in primary school,” she said.

Anna said learning to spell in primary school was crucial. “We felt in recent years that the use of mobile phones had increased significantly and the results are exactly as we predicted. We used the Schonell spelling test recommended by our English teacher. The results are very accurate, because the sample size was very large.”

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