Students’ bright idea about street lights lands top prize

Three Cork teenagers have literally had a light bulb moment — they’ve been awarded the top prize in a major international competition for their bright idea about a light bulb.

Students’ bright idea about street lights lands top prize

The students from Sacred Heart Secondary School, Clonakilty, Co Cork, represented Ireland at the 7th International Environment and Sustainability Project Olympiad (INESPO) in Amsterdam this week.

Ellen Fitzgerald, 17, Aoife Dolan, 17 and Niamh Nyhan, 18, spent two days speaking to 13 judges about their project on street lighting.

The students discovered that there are an estimated 400,000 street lights in Ireland, costing around €40m a year in energy costs.

They designed an energy efficient light-emitting diode (LED) bulb which can be screwed directly into a standard street-lamp fitting, saving on costs.

The students, who will begin 6th year in September, beat competition from students from 47 other countries to claim the number one slot.

Ellen said they had designed two light bulbs for their project and intended developing it further.

“We reckon our light bulbs will pay for themselves in savings in two to three years. It is an original idea and a sustainable solution to a worldwide problem,” said Ellen.

The students made it to the finals after winning the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) sponsored award at the SciFest national final last November.

SciFest is a series of one-day science fairs, funded primarily by Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) Discover programme, Intel and Boston Scientific.

Last year, a record 6,059 students took part in SciFest, exhibiting 2,594 projects in schools and Institutes across the country.

The students received support from lighting design company, Garrabridge, based in Cahir, Co Tipperary and from the Centre for Advanced Photonics and Process Analysis at Cork Institute of Technology.

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