An investigation into the behaviour and habitat of the Irish badger was the winning project in this year’s Intel Mini Scientist competition.
The four winning pupils from St. John’s NS in Cratloe, Co Clare – Sean O’Brien, Marc O’Brien, Eoin Carey and Shane Leahy – explored how the myth of badgers spreading bovine TB was exposed, and studied an alternative to culling in the form of a vaccination.
The students also developed their own badger repellent based on their in-depth investigations.
The Cratloe scientists were among teams from 24 schools across Ireland exhibiting their projects at the Intel Mini Scientist grand final in Dublin City University’s Helix venue.
Now in its 10th year, the Intel Mini Scientist initiative gives primary students from fourth, fifth and sixth class the chance to explore science through project-based learning and exhibitions.
Finalists emerged from two phases of judging at local events and regional finals that saw nearly 2,000 projects vie for contention nationwide.
Education Minister Richard Bruton, who presented prizes to the winning pupils, said: “Science is all about asking questions about how the world around us works, asking can improve the way the world works and finding new ways to do things differently.
“Today is a day to celebrate some of our best young people, some of the best primary schools in the country and some of the best ideas - I congratulate you all on this exciting journey.”
Intel Ireland general manager Eamonn Sinnott was also on hand to present awards.
“Mini Scientist is our biggest education programme, and looking around the exhibition today and feeling the energy in this room, it’s not hard to see why that is,” he said. “The students here today represent the top one per cent of the entire competition and that’s something of which [the finalists] should all be very proud.”
The grand final was held for the first time at the Helix following a new agreement signed between Intel and DCU to collaborate on talent development and technologies with the potential to transform how we live, learn, work and engage with the arts in the future.
As part of the prize for the overall winning project, St John’s NS in Cratloe will receive a €1,000 grant from Intel.