A look back at a winning week for Dundalk schools

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Katie Taylor is our world boxing champion and one of our great sports ambassadors, but sixteen-year-old Rachel Ní Dhonnachada, a fifth year student at St Vincent’s Secondary School, Dundalk, has also landed a winning punch.

Katie Taylor is our world boxing champion and one of our great sports ambassadors, but sixteen-year-old Rachel Ní Dhonnachada, a fifth year student at St Vincent’s Secondary School, Dundalk, has also landed a winning punch.

Rachel won the Best Individual award at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition.

Rachel won the award for her ‘Brap’ project, which is a boxer’s hand wrap designed to prevent wrist injuries in boxing.

Wrist injuries are a major problem in boxing, and as a former boxer, Rachel set out to do something about it.

She discarded the current approach of binding up the wrist with a cloth bandage, a method introduced in the 1920s. Instead she designed a glove-like wrist support that could reduce wrist deflection, and so cut injuries.

“It is comfortable to wear and supports the wrist without restricting normal movement,” said Rachel.

“I asked Irish boxer Katie Taylor to try out the wrist support and the champion found it very good.”

Rachel also collected a considerable amount of data to show that her device really made a difference.

“It gives you a competitive advantage,” she said. “It slightly increases punching force and reduces down time as a result of injuries.

Rachel has applied for a patent for her design and has plans to bring it to the International Boxing Association.

She received a perpetual trophy and a cheque for €2,400.

Two other entries from St Vincent’s were highly commended: the sunglasses team and the ‘helicopter’ seeds team.

Caoimhe McEvoy-Warr, Ciara Babington and Amy McArdle investigated whether or not cheap sunglasses really protect your eyes against UVA, UVB and HEV.

And Ciara McLoughlin, Aoife O’Malley and Aoife McLoughlin carried out an investigation into the symmetry of Sycamore trees, acer pseudoplatanus ‘helicopter’ seeds and it’s effect of dispersal distances.

And three St Vincent’s students, Alexandria Smyth, Hannah McGivern and Anna Turley, did a statistical analysis of student’s interpretation of data presented in different graphical forms.

Conor Begley, a fifth year student at Coláiste Rís Dundalk won the the Analog Student Award for his project QuickCom, a community aid for the physically disabled.

Conor, aged 16, has been to the finals three times as well as winning the prestigious travel prize at Scifest 2013. His project was in senior levels in the technology category.

Quick Com – A communication aid is a computer-based package comprising of both software and hardware components that helps the physically disabled to communicate using the latest in technologies.

Conor has found his method user friendly and inexpensive to build unlike models that exist already.

The project was inspired Conor’s aunt Fiona who suffers from cerebral palsy. Conor uses movements from the head, finger and eyebrow and has developed an interactive package that will allow its user to communicate, web browse, read ebooks and many other possibilities.

Bush Post Primary School was also well represented at the exhibition.

Three second year students, Lillian O’Reilly, Ava O’Shaughnessy and Deborah Malone investigated the link between intense training at a growth spurt age and injury at senior level GAA football. The girls completed a detailed survey to identify causes of injury. The girls are the first junior students from Bush Post Primary to compete at a young scientist.

Down Syndrome affects a lot of families in Ireland so Lisa McCarragher, Caoilinn Dunne, and Chloe Finley, TY students in Bush Post Primary, investigated speech impairments within children with Down Syndrome. The girls compiled teaching techniques, combined with their own innovative methods which have proven to enhance speech. The girls have also collated their findings into a booklet which will provide advice and tips for parents of children with Down Syndrome.

Rise and Shine, created by Conor Kenny and Adam Traynor, opens the curtains in your room, at a specified time. While David Finnegan and Stephen Gartlan’s project, studied the compulsory nature of Irish in Schools.