Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Young scientists show innovations

Lucas Grange (left) and Owen Killian from Belvedere with their iPhone defibrillator experiment

A pocket-size defibrillator that attaches to an iPhone is among the latest ideas by the country's budding scientists of tomorrow.

Students from 346 schools across the country have entered an array of innovative projects at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition.

Owen Killian and Lucas Grange, fifth year pupils at Belvedere College, Dublin, believe a pharmaceutical firm could develop their concept into a potentially life-saving portable tool. The device would be powered to give three electric shocks to restart a heart after sudden cardiac arrest, with key data relayed through an iPhone application.

Owen said while the sudden death of sport stars such as GAA footballer Cormac McAnallen have been highlighted, sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at any time.

The teenagers believe off-duty healthcare staff nationwide could carry the tool, potentially reducing the use of bulky and costly automatic external defibrillators in sports clubs and schools.

"Where is a defibrillator at a five-a-side match in the Phoenix Park?," asked Owen, 17, who plans to study medicine at university. "You have to hit the casual events. It's not just in sports clubs. What we need is a huge abundance of these devices all over. If you can get 70% of the all-health professionals to get this technology, this device is guaranteed to be on every street in Dublin. Statistically, it's going to save lives."

A record 1,735 projects have entered the competition this year, up a third, with 515 chosen to compete for the coveted title of BT Young Scientist & Technologist of the Year 2011.

Other projects include road safety initiatives by pupils from Abbey Christian Brothers Grammar School in Co Down, who hope to cut the number of road deaths caused by tyre blowouts and by blocking mobile phone coverage while driving.

Meanwhile an entry from nearby Our Lady Grammar School aims to help people with a disability to put on socks and students from St Mary's High School are working on a project to prevent people fraudulently parking in disabled bays.

Mari Cahalane, head of the exhibition which is in its 47th year, said all the young scientists are people Ireland can be proud of. "I think business people, Government, people visiting the country on trade missions need to be down here this week to see the confidence and ideas that are there and see where Ireland's future is," she said.

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