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Fungi girls hotshots in science challenge

By Rebecca Black

Published 28/12/2015

Olivia Fleming and Bethany Petrie
Olivia Fleming and Bethany Petrie

A pair of young Co Antrim boffins have invented a new way to keep homes warm - using fungi.

Olivia Fleming and Bethany Petrie, both Year 13 students at Ballyclare High School, hope to fight off stiff competition from across Ireland at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition in Dublin in January.

The girls impressed a panel of expert judges and were chosen as finalists from more than 2,000 entries from across the island of Ireland.

Their project focuses on using fungi as a replacement material for insulation.

Olivia said they wanted to help people to reduce their energy bills in a cost-effective way.

"We saw the potential of mycelium, a material found in fungus, as cavity wall insulation, and we knew it was a material we could easily grow and develop from the school science lab."

Bethany added: "We were able to get in contact with leading insulation company Kingspan, who were kind enough to share their wealth of knowledge with us and give us tips and advice on how to improve our investigations."

A host of youngsters from schools across Northern Ireland - including two more groups from Ballyclare High School - qualified for the contest.

The event at the RDS takes runs from January 6-9.

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