St. Macartan’s College Students’ Success at BT Young Scientist Exhibition

Four St. Macartan’s College students qualified to take part in this year’s BT Young Scientist Exhibition which took place at the RDS last week. Louis Madden from Clones and Ultan O’Rourke from Monaghan town presented a project entitled “Is the native Irish Arbutus unedo L. phylogenetically different to the mainland European Arbutus unedo L.” From their  research, they discovered that the Arbutus unedo or “strawberry tree” which is native to the west of Ireland is very similar to a tree native to Spain. It is believed that the strawberry tree came to Ireland from Spain approximately 4000 years ago. Louis and Ultan wanted to find out, through phylogenetic analysis, whether the native Irish Arbutus unedo had evolved from the mainland EuropeanArbutus unedo over the 4000 years. Their experiments were carried out at the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin. Based on the test results the Monaghan students concluded that “the native Irish Arbutus unedo L. is not phylogenetically different to the mainland European Arbutus unedo L.” They concluded that 4000 years is not long enough for the tree to evolve into a new species of Arbutus. Louis and Ultan were awarded first place in the Intermediate Best Group Project section.

Oisín Lavelle from Tyholland and Darragh Todd from Ardaghey presented a project aimed to determine if red light emitting diodes (LEDs) had a significant effect on vegetative growth and the flowering of little-gem lettuce and primrose seedlings. The plants were grown in seven sample groups, 3 natural light plant groups, 3 LED groups and one sample group grown under an incandescent bulb. Each sample contained over 30 plants, both lettuce and primroses. All the plants were grown in a greenhouse at the Greenmount Campus in Antrim over a period of 12 weeks. After 12 weeks the boys harvested the plants and measured the leaf area and fresh weight of 6 plants from each sample group. It was evident from our results that the red LEDs provided very little benefit to both plant groups over natural light. The plants grown under the incandescent bulb however had larger leaves and a heavier overall weight. From this project Oisín and Darragh  concluded that the red LEDs although having lower running costs were not as beneficial to the plants as an ordinary bulb. Oisín and Darragh were highly commended by the judges for their project. Both St. Macartan’s teams like all other entrants were interviewed by judges on at least three occasions during the exhibition. All four Sem boys are previous exhibitors at the BT Young Scientist and hope to build on their experience to date as they prepare for next year’s competition.


Ultan O’Rourke and Loius Madden at the BT Young Scientist Competition with their project below.

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Oisin Lavelle and Darragh Todd at the BT Young Scientist Competition with their project below.