Algae test could prevent infant blood disorder

STUDENTS who developed a simple home test kit that measures nitrate levels in drinking water believe it could be used to avoid a potentially fatal blood disorder in infants known “blue baby” syndrome.

The students, finalists in the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition at the RDS, Dublin, used an algae to create a home test that people can use to analyse their drinking water. Colour changes in the test indicate nitrate levels.

Mark Brennan, 15, and Mark Grennan, 16, fifth year students at Scoil Chonglais, Baltinglass, Co Wicklow, found that nitrate levels varied considerably even across a small area.

Blue baby syndrome is so named because in moreserious cases the skin, lips or nail-beds of infantsdevelop a slate-grey or bluish colour and the child may have trouble breathing.

Another finalist, Alex Fitzgerald, 18, found that it’s a common misconception that radio advertisements are broadcast at a louder volume than normal programmes.

“Some advertisements use a lot of shouting and dance music to make more of an impact,” explained Alex, a sixth year student at Summerhill College in Sligo.

Students at the Teresian School in Donnybrook, Dublin, found that support for co-education is high among both students and parents. Second-year students Allana Eden, 14, Kate O’Brien, 13, and Aifric McCarthy, 13, found that 80% of those who responded to their survey favoured co-education schools.

Dearbhla Cantwell, 15, Karyn Gaffney, 16, and Cathy Gilmartin, 15, transition students at Loreto College, Cavan, studied the growth of non-national students at their school. They found that 65 (14%) of the 452 students at their school are non-nationals.

“It has made a difference to school life because we have students from a different cultures with different customs and we are conscious of that,” said Cathy.

* The 2007 BT Young Scientist/Scientists will be announced tonight by Education and Science Minister Mary Hanafin. The winner(s) will receive €5,000, the BT perpetual trophy and chance to represent Ireland at the EU Young Scientist Competition in Valencia, Spain, in September.

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.