Scientific hat-trick winners Sophie Healy-Thow 17 yrs, 16-year-olds Ciara Judge and Emer Hickey have been chosen Cork Persons of the Month. Their names now also go forward, with the other Persons of Month chosen this year, for possible selection as Cork Persons of the Year at a gala awards lunch on January 16th next.
The Kinsale Community School pupils won this year’s BT Young Scientist, EU Young Scientist and the top prize at the Google Science Fair in San Francisco, beating thousands of entries from around the world.
The trio investigated how natural bacteria could be used as a growth aid for crops as part of their project “Natural Bacteria Combating World Hunger”.
Working from home over the last three years, the girls did an extensive study on how the bacteria “diazotroph” affects germination rates and found that it increased crop growth by up to 50% and barley yields by as much as 74%. These results have significant potential for increasing crop yield, providing a possible solution to food shortages in developing countries. It could also reduce the footprint agriculture has on the environment by reducing fertiliser needs.
Kinsale Community School Deputy Principal Kathleen O’Brien said that the three girls were inspirational to women, the science community and the country, and their work has the potential to solve the global food crisis.
“They are also highlighting the education system and raising the profile of Ireland as a country with a high skill base in science” added Ms O’Brien.
Time Magazine has named the girls as three of the top 25 influential teenagers in the world, along with people like Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzal who was shot by Taliban gunmen for promoting girls education.
“The trio from Kinsale Community School are now working on commercializing their discovery of using Diazotroph, a bacteria that sucks nitrogen from the atmosphere into soil, speeding up the germination of cereal crops and – more importantly – increasing their yield,” said Time Magazine.