Donegal schools taking part in BT Young Scientist

FAST fashion, what teenagers think of a united Ireland and how much plastic is in the fish we eat are just some of the topics being explored by Donegal students in this year’s BT Young Scientist & Technology Competition.
The three day event, which went live yesterday, is being held entirely online again this year because of the pandemic.
There is a total of fourteen projects from six schools across Donegal taking part in the prestigious competition.
A group of students from Loreto Convent in Letterkenny have been testing samples of water and fish guts to see how many microplastics are in our environment and what we eat.
From their investigations students Csenge Bodnar, Petra Bodnar and Lakshmi Shaji found that a lot of the microplastics found in waters in
Donegal come from twine used to cover hay bales.
On the back of the results the students appealed to farmers to pay extra attention to how they dispose of this waste.
“We would like to raise awareness on the high amount of microplastics in not only our environment but in the fish we eat,” they said.
“This is a shocking discovery for us as we are not merely talking of a few microplastics but in some samples up to 75.”
Coláiste Ailigh student Iseult Ní Mhathúna’s project aims to find out what young people’s attitudes are towards a united Ireland.
The 5th year student undertook a survey which was sent to schools in the border counties in the republic of Ireland. She received a total of 401 responses to the survey which took into account age, gender and political awareness.
“The headline result was that 78 per cent of respondents selected a non partitionist non border option,” said Iseult.
St Columba’s College in Stranorlar had two entries in this year’s competition, one of which looked at how viral social media trends can affect behaviour in a school environment.
Students Corey McCloskey, Grace O’Connor Donoghue and Cormac Morris got the idea for the project after a Tik Tok challenge went viral.
The trend challenged students to steal school equipment and post about it on Tik Tok.
They carried out a survey of students in their school as well as a partner school in New York. Their research found that students in the US begin using social media at a younger age, under 10 while students in their own school started between 10 and 12.
The most popular social media platform was Tik Tok and the survey found that four out of five respondents felt their behaviour was affected by these viral trends.
St Columba’s College student’s  Theresa McMenamin, Cathal Cannon and Charis O’Donnell were keen to find out what their peers think of fast fashion.
For their project they started a survey to see how much students knew and began a campaign to try and educate their classmates’ opinions and change the way they shop.
They carried out a second survey to see if their campaign was successful which resulted in more students knowing more about fast fashion and they also discovered that social media is the best way to change young people’s opinions.
Students Charlie Coyle, Hannah Tinney and Sarah McNeely from The Royal and Prior School, Raphoe will be showcasing their project ‘The Haz-Bin : An Innovative Hazardous Waste Bin that removes the possibility of contamination, aimed for hospitals and health facilities’.
The haz-bin is a dual compartment waste bin that maximizes safety after disposal in a hospital.
The Abbey Vocational School in Donegal Town is the most well represented Donegal school this year with eight entries in the competition.
Some of the projects include some interesting inventions. Student Michael Masterson developed a left-hand smudge guard that is designed to fit on the page rather than available products which fit on the student’s hand.
Meanwhile, Hughie McShane worked on developing an app to improve writing in children with dysgraphia and students Micheal Deely and
CJ Burke developed a light that will change colour to assist people with dyslexia while reading and writing.
The 58th BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition will run until Friday. The virtual exhibition can be viewed by the public free of charge, by registering through the website (

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