Brush with genius: Jessica's clever poster wins national competition 

Brush with genius: Jessica's clever poster wins national competition 

Jessica Phelan wins national gas safety poster competition. 

WHEN her class got the opportunity to enter a carbon monoxide (CO) safety poster competition, Jessica Phelan’s teacher recommended the children go home and sleep on it.

“I thought about it and then an idea just popped into my head,” says 12-year-old Jessica, who went on to win the competition – the aim of which is to raise awareness of carbon monoxide and the dangers it can pose in our homes.

I did a painting of Ghostbusters sucking up CO in the atmosphere – because Ghostbusters suck in ghosts and, just as you can’t see ghosts, you can’t see CO.

The Tipperary girl’s brainwave caption, ‘CO: Invisible but not Invincible’, nailed her first place among hundreds of entries sent in from all over Ireland.

“CO is a gas. It’s poisonous and if it’s in your house it’ll poison you, so you’d open a window or go outside and call someone,” says Jessica, who did the competition – organised by Gas Networks Ireland in partnership with Junior Achievement Ireland (JAI) – while a sixth class pupil in Ballyneale NS, Carrick-on-Suir. She’s now in first year at Comeragh College, Carrick-on-Suir.

Her dad, Mike, says he and wife Nicola have learned from their daughter’s project. “The hidden danger of CO is the big thing. We didn’t have an alarm. Jessica said we should and now we have one.”

Jessica Phelan with her winning poster.
Jessica Phelan with her winning poster.

Jessica would like to “do something with building and engineering” as a future career. “I’d hope I’d get as much opportunity as boys to learn in these areas.” 

She’s finding secondary school “fun, a new experience” and has another ambition – to play rugby for Munster. “She’s very good at rugby, very strong. She has been playing for four years with Carrick-on-Suir RFC,” says her dad, adding that she also plays soccer and does taekwondo.

Students were eligible to enter the competition once they’d completed the Energize programme – part of Gas Networks Ireland’s corporate responsibility strategy, the programme fosters students’ interest in STEM subjects. The aim is to promote careers in science to primary school students and encourage them to study science subjects at second-level.

Energize was launched in partnership with JAI two years ago, it’s available to 5,000 sixth class pupils nationwide and the programme comprises five modules spanning the fundamentals of science – from renewable energy awareness to safety in the home. It includes an essential module on carbon monoxide safety.

Ballyneale NS teacher Sarah Whelan says the Energize programme “brought science to life through fun and interactive sessions reflecting the curriculum”.

To have Energize delivered in a school, email info@jai.ie.

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