GAELSCOIL an Eiscir Riada Tullamore scooped first prize in the All-Ireland Primary Science Competition held in Athlone Institute of Technology. They took home the National Award along with a cheque for €2,000 to be spent on science equipment for the school.
The children had added a number of extra science experiments to the project which had also received a prize at the BT Young Scientist Exhibition in the RDS Dublin.
The original project had been entitled ‘Bees v Wasps - the true story’, as ghaeilge ‘Beacha v Pocanna an fiorsceal’.
The revised project delved into the science of honey and honeymaking. The judges complimented the children on revising their project significantly from that which had come third in the regional finals of the Atlantic Corridor and Ericssons Primary Science Competition.
It was an excellent sign for the midland area that a project from Ardnagrath NS Athlone finished in third also at the All-Ireland Competition while a Kilkenny school finished in second place.
The extra features added by the Gaelscoil students had shown that the children were not satisfied with their first entry and had been able to improve it with hard work. This is a quality required of all good scientists according to the spokesperson for the Judging Committee. They were equally impressed with the enthusiasm and knowledge shown by the students.
The project focused on many different aspects of the science of honey and beekeeping. The children conducted an experiment to analyse if honey inhibits the growth of mould and bacteria using slices of bread which they monitored as mould began to build up.
Their second experiment involved using a refractometer to determine the water content of widely available honeys as compared to a sample of local honey produced by Tullamore beekeeper John Somerville. The children were delighted when it was apparent that the locally produced honey was indeed the purest and had the least water content.
Following this, the group used a digital microscope bought from the local ALDI store, connected to a laptop to analyse the build up of sugar crystals in opened honey jars over a period of two months. They displayed still photographs showing how the sugar crystals developed over time.
The final part of the project involved answering the question why do honeycombs have a hexagonal shape? Using mathematical formulas and area measurement they showed how the hexagon is the ideal shape within the hive in terms of area coverage and that combs of this shape fit the most honey into a confined area. Using a container of water and washing up liquid pressurised on both sides by glass plates they showed how circular bubbles change to a hexagonal shape. This is similar to what happens in the hive as the wax builds up.
Much of their scientific work was presented through audio visual displays.
As part of their prize, the class will also receive a guided tour of the Ericssons plant in Athlone as well as having the honour of displaying their project at the Atlantic Corridor symposium to be held at the Tullamore Court Hotel.
The group are particularly looking forward to meeting Ward Van Duffel International CEO of LEGO at the conference.
The children would especially like to acknowledge the support they received from Mr Somerville, parents Angela Rigney and Ann Guinan in completing their project.
Those who took part were Olivia Ni Shomachain, Saoirse Nic Giolla Phadraig, Roisin Ni Bhriain, Megan De Ghras, Abbey Ni Bhreacain, Cian O’Mathuna, Shane Mac Ionrachtaigh, Ciara Nic Daeid, Tiernan O’Dalaigh, Maria Ni Cuinneain, Killian O’Fogartaigh, Ailbhe Ni Shuilleabhain, Sarah Ni Cuinneain, Patrick O’Fathaigh, Gearoid Pluincead, Ciaran O’Braonain, Maeve Ni Mhathuna, Siomha Ni Chiardhubhain, Emily De Ghras, Ciara Ni Fhloinn Murchu, Cathal O’Caomhanach, Jane Ni Thuairisc, Beibhinn Ni Chuilin and Hannah Ni Fhearaigh.