Patrician Academy students impress at BT Young Scientist Competition

Patrician Academy second year student Seán Clarke, an entrant in the 2013 BT Young Scientist compe-tition, impressed judges and politicians with his project titled “The Irish Election Predictor” at the RDS Dublin last week. Seán was highly com-mended by judges for his work in which he posed three questions, namely:

1. Is there a constituency in Ireland that best predicts the outcome of a General Election?

2. What are the Irish swing constituencies?

3. What socio-economic measurements are the best predictors of Irish General Election results?

Seán researched data as far back as 1961 General Election, which were available online. For questions 1 and 2, almost 19,000 data points were collected, collated and correlated, a mammoth task, but Seán was not fazed by this! His results were as follows:

1. Laois/Offaly is the constituency that best predicts the outcome of a General Election.

2. Swing constituencies were successfully identified.

3. To answer question 3, Seán utilised an analytical software tool which uses automated modelling techniques to build prediction models for target variables based on input data. Using the software, Seán was able to predict which of the variables would contribute the most to the amount of seats won by each party.

Seán met with the Minister of Research and Inno-vation, Sean Sherlock TD in the Department for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation on 21st December. On discussing the results with Seán, he said the conclu-sion that the constituency is the highest contributing factor to the number of seats won by Labour reminded him of a famous quote from Mallow man Tip O’Neill, former Speaker of the US house of representatives, who said “all politics is local”.

Patrician Academy students Paul O’Sullivan, Padraic O’Driscoll and Alan Murphy travelled with their science teacher J. O’Flynn to the Young Scientist Exhibition. The boys’ project titled ‘Studying the effects of barley malt vinegar in lactating cows’ received very positive feedback from both the judging panel and members of the public, as it was proven to raise the quality of milk produced by cows. The boys proved scientifically that using the malt vinegar in cows’ feed reduced the somatic cell content of the milk, resulting in a higher price being paid to farmers in respect of the high quality milk produced by the cows. One big advan-tage highlighted by the judges was the significant reduction in traditional antibiotic treatment used by farmers as both costs and length of treatment needed by the animals was greatly reduced, saving the farmer both money and time by using malt vinegar! The students were interviewed by RTE, and at one stage there was a queue forming to view their project and the doors of the RDS had to be closed! The students were commended for their scientific research and presentation of their project by BT, and also received a display award for their hard work.