Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Junior boffins scoop top science award

Pupils from Northern Ireland schools have scooped awards at a major science competition.

Paul McKeever and Bryan Murphy from Abbey Christian Brothers School in Newry won the intermediate best group category for their ‘Specs Detector’ project at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition in Dublin last night.

They receive a prize of €2,400, a BT Perpetual Trophy and a special award presented by Education Minister Caitriona Ruane to the best overall project from entries throughout Northern Ireland.

The award for individual runner-up went to Hannah Eastwood from Loreto College, Coleraine, for her project in the senior section of the Chemical, Physical and Mathematical Sciences category. Hannah was awarded €1,200 and a BT Perpetual Trophy.

The top awards were presented by Conor Lenihan TD and Chris Clark, CEO of BT at yesterday’s awards ceremony at the RDS.

More than 1,000 students competed this week with 509 projects from 32 counties across Ireland. Dr Stephen Langrell, from Belfast, won the top prize in the competition back in 1986 and is now part of a team of scientists charged with ensuring crops survive climate change.

Dr Langrell was on hand in the RDS yesterday to describe the project he prepared over two decades ago.

He said that winning the competition had inspired him to become one of the world's leading experts on the effects of climate change on food.

As a 17-year-old student, he prepared an ecological study on endangered plant species. Later that year, he represented Ireland at the International Science and Engineering Fair in Fort Worth, Dallas, Texas, winning third prize in the Environmental Sciences Division.

He has worked as a molecular plant pathologist and biosecurity specialist, before joining the European Commission's Joint Research Centre in 2003.

He is now a principal scientific officer involved in European and international research related to sustainable agriculture, food security and climate change.

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