St Killian’s Garron Tower have, for the second time in three years, won the Matrix Award for the best school from Northern Ireland in the BT Young Scientist Exhibition which was held at the weekend in the RDS in Dublin.
Under the tutelage of Sean Connolly three projects from the school made it through to the 2018 BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition. All three projects were submitted in the Technology category.
Rachel McAuley (14) and Ellen Martin (13) won first place in the Junior group with their Smart Desk project.
The Smart Desk is an interactive learning environment enabling children with dyscalculia to learn numbers using visual, auditory and kinaesthetic methods accommodating all types of learners.
The pupils developed a brightly coloured interactive desk which could be easily linked to a PC monitor and keyboard. The Smart Desk would allow young children with dyscalculia, a developmental disorder resulting in difficulty comprehending numbers, to learn using a hands on approach by manipulating numbered disks which, when inserted into the correct position, would trigger songs and animations to play on screen.
Rachel and Ellen hope to have continued success when they take their project to the Big Bang Competition Finals in March at the NEC in Birmingham.
The remaining two projects were submitted at senior level. One was the Dementia Aid developed by Claire McGuckian and Alexandra McCormick which aims to help patients with early phase Dementia to remember key events in their daily routine. The patient wears a tag and when they wish to do a task such as make a cup of tea, the tag will trigger a short video of the task to be shown on a nearby screen or phone.
This Dementia Aid is a visual cue system which could be used to increase independence of the patient within their own home for a longer time. The Year 14 St Killian’s pupils were highly commended by the judges for the work completed on this project.
The other senior level project by Niall Black, Orla McNaughton and Ciaran Cairns focused on the development of a product to reduce the incidence of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) otherwise known as cot death, which results in almost 300 infant deaths in the UK each year.
The exact cause of SIDS is unknown but experts believe certain stresses and the babies ability to control heart rate, breathing and temperature during these times of stress could be key.
The ‘Cot Death Eliminator’ is a device developed by Niall, Orla and Ciaran containing a temperature and humidity sensor which can be set to specific parameters. If the environment within the cot exceeds these parameters an alarm will be triggered which sets in motion a fan and a cooling pump to decrease the temperature of the mattress and reduce humidity in the cot. A text message alert will also be sent directly to the parents to inform them of the event allowing them to check on the baby.
The Cot Death Eliminator was awarded third place in the Technology category at Senior level.
St Killian’s principal, Jonny Brady, said he was delighted with the school’s success
He said: “I am absolutely delighted and proud of our three teams, all of whom did exceedingly well. This is our seventh successive year at BT finals in Dublin and every year our students have gained an award.
“To be awarded Best school winners for a second time is a fitting accolade to both the commitment of our students and to Mr Sean Connolly who works unstintingly to ensure that our students get the most out of the BT Young Scientists experience. Well done to everyone!”