Texas here we come!
Year 10 students, Zoe McGirr and Megan Duffy will travel to Texas at the end of this month to unveil a seed storage box that could literally mean the difference between life and death in some of the most stricken parts of the world. The girls are bound for the Texas Science Olympiad with their teacher Mrs Christine Gilmore and technician Mairead Molloy both of whom helped the girls develop their ‘hot box’. Zoe and Megan have investigated how preserving seeds is a vital link in the food chain especially in the Third World. In places like Ethiopia where the girls focused their study, struggling farmers spend a large proportion of their meagre annual income buying seeds from market.
Their first step was to identify the best conditions for harvesting the seeds and that meant researching and talking to people in the charities Farm Africa and Self Help Africa who have experience in the field. The girls then set about establishing optimum conditions for harvesting and germinating seeds using experimental methods where they discovered that seeds had to be soaked in water for three days to achieve the best yield. The girls then needed to find a sustainable way of powering their prototype the harvest box and so they used solar panels and a thermal mix in the paint so that the box was insulated from external conditions. They cooled and heated their harvest box using a thermal electric plate and heat sinks.
So impressed were Invest NI and Sentinus, a science and technology agency stimulating innovation in schools, that they chose the project to represent Northern Ireland at the Science Olympiad iSWEEEP. The unique Houston-based science fair is hosted by ISWEEEP, the International Sustainable World (Energy, Engineering, Environment) Project Olympiad and attracts the brightest and best young innovators from around the world. The girls leave from Dublin on April 30th where they get the chance to pitch their seed box to global luminaries in environmental science. The girls wish to extend their thanks to Martin Bradley of Letterkenny IT and Cormac Duffy, Patsy Toland of Self Help Africa and Chris Sandy of the Oakgrove Integrated College Technology Department for their expertise and guidance. They would also like to thank all their fellow students and the staff of Oakgrove College for supporting their fundraising efforts with a special thanks to 10AB for hosting a Science show and to Barbara Higginbotham of Data Harvest, Patrick McGrath of iTeach and The Taxi Company for their generous sponsorship without which they would be unable to attend.