Davis College students on Young Scientists shortlist!

Davis College students and teachers have been busy over Christmas, finalising submissions for the BT Young Scientist Competition, which takes place at the RDS in Dublin this week.  4th year students Sofia Georgieva and Nathan O’Regan have worked on a project entitled: ‘To determine the effect of an electromagnetic field on single-celled organisms’.  This project involves studying two single-celled organisms, amoeba and paramecium, and their behaviour and locomotion (the way they move). The students used a camera connected to a microscope to project an image onto a laptop screen where they were able to observe and record the amoeba and paramecium. They then created an electromagnetic field around the microscope by building a circuit which included a strong magnet and placed this close to their samples on the microscope stage. The current was varied in the circuit, thereby varying the electromagnetic field. Key findings of the students’ research include the fact that in the presence of an electromagnetic field, both single-celled organisms appeared to move faster and moved towards the negative terminal of the battery; also, the amoeba grew more pseudopodia (false legs). This suggests that the single-celled organisms are positively charged (due to the large number of positive protons in their nucleus) and are therefore attracted to the negative terminal of the battery. In the case of the paramecium, they appeared to get more distressed and uncomfortable as the current was increased. It was noted that these findings were more obvious with a higher current and a stronger electromagnetic field. A video of these findings can be found on the YouTube channel ‘daviscollegetv’ under the heading of ‘To determine the effect of an electromagnetic field on single-celled organisms.’

Another Transition Year student, Colin Roche, has entered a project entitled ‘To establish if alternative light sources affect visual acuity’. Colin found that acuity of black and white lettering on a Snellen eye chart is not affected by CFL and LED lighting when compared with a normal incandescent bulb. Colin verified that the results were statistically insignificant by way of a Wilcoxon T Test. However, colour perception, which is an important part of visual acuity, is affected, especially the warm colours, i.e. red and yellow. Colin also researched the long-term effects of these alternative lights and discovered some interesting facts that people may not be aware of, including that certain LED lighting can, through prolonged use, damage the rods and cones in the eye and result in poorer vision. 

We wish the Davis College students every success with these projects as they seek to continue the college’s proud tradition in this competition.