It is a hairy issue, but a team of budding young scientists today claimed to have proved blondes really are more dumb.
The fourth-year boffins from Drumcree College in Portadown swapped Bunsen burners for questionnaires to probe a series of stress-related stereotypes.
After an in-depth analysis involving hundreds of fellow pupils, the group discovered three quarters of redheads were fiery, 59% of brunettes were boring, and 64% of blondes score “below average” in IQ tests.
Their findings will go on display in Dublin this week as part of the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition which features more than 500 projects from Irish schoolchildren.
More than 80 judges from the worlds of business and academia will interview and assess each project with the overall winner announced at Friday’s awards ceremony.
Drumcree College pupil Eimear Creaney said her three-strong team had applied some unconventional research methods.
“For the redheads we did an anger survey and we made them stand with one arm raised and tickled them with a feather to see how they would react,” she said.
“We gave the brunettes a fun questionnaire and asked them things like how often do you laugh and what’s your favourite colour.”
The 14-year-old said some staff members had also taken part in the survey.
“There were no dumb teachers but there were boring ones and fiery ones,” she added.
Organisers of the exhibition, now in its 46th year, received more than 1,500 projects from a record 329 schools before deciding on the 520 finalists.
Other entries include a study of the effects of prehydration on sports performance and the impact of music on learning ability.
Claire McGinnity, a second-year pupil at Our Lady’s & St Patrick’s College in Knock, Co Antrim, conducted an experiment to find out whether playing the Nintendo Wii affected aggression levels.
The 12-year-old, whose playing of the games console is strictly limited to three times a week at home, said her classmates did not need much persuading to take part.
“They got puzzles to complete after playing and I found there are two main groups of people that are affected in different ways – the people who were faster were able to use their energy to improve and for others it slowed them down,” she added.
“I think it’s all right in small doses but not playing it for too long.”
Chris Clark, CEO of BT in Ireland, said the emphasis of the competition was on making science fun.
“It gives pupils the opportunity to explore the possibilities of science outside of a classroom,” he added.
“The other thing is the essential skills that people get meeting other young people, business people and politicians, they get a big benefit from that.”
The exhibition runs at the RDS in Dublin from Tuesday to Saturday and is open to the public from Thursday.