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Bright sparks vying for Young Scientist of the Year title

By Rebecca Black

Published 08/01/2016

Maeve O’Hagan and Eva Fox from St Catherine’s College, Armagh
Maeve O’Hagan and Eva Fox from St Catherine’s College, Armagh
Callum Aiken and Matthew Petticrew from Ballymena Academy, Antrim, yesterday

Two young Irish dancers from Armagh are on a mission to prove they are just as fit as footballers.

Eva Fox (14) and Maeve O'Hagan (13) from St Catherine's College in Armagh conducted fitness tests to prove their point.

Their school project took them to Dublin, where they are competing with the brightest young minds on the island of Ireland to be named BT Young Scientists of the Year.

Eva and Maeve told how they wanted to prove that Irish dancing was not just a hobby, but also a sport.

"There is this stereotype it is a hobby, but we dance and live it, and all dancers are very dedicated," Eva explained.

"We feel it should be recognised as a sport because we put in as much effort. You have to master keeping your arms by your sides, your feet turned out and your posture has to be perfect.

"We designed physical tests for a group of dancers and a group of footballers, and on average the dancers did better."

Maeve told how she wanted to prove her brothers wrong after they said dancing could not be tougher than football.

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BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition: Success for Northern Ireland students  

"The tests included the beep test, a two-minute skip, sit-ups, standing jumps, agility tests, hand-to-eye coordination and the sit and reach," she added.

"The project has attracted a lot of attention. Lots of people have stopped to ask us about it."

A host of Ulster students are taking part in the exhibition at the RDS this week.

Among them are two budding astronauts from Antrim who have a novel idea for sustaining life in space.

GCSE students Matthew Petticrew and Callum Aiken (both 16), from Ballymena Academy, told how they had been inspired to work on the idea by Tim Peake, the first British astronaut to go to the International Space Station.

Matthew said: "We have been following Tim Peake's launch on the news, and we have followed the European Space Agency for a while.

"Our project uses reverse osmosis for recycling water. By recycling the water, we grow plants. The best foods to grow in space require little space and grow quickly."

Callum added: "It is every young boy's dream to be an astronaut. We always followed the International Space Station and decided to look at what it would be like in terms of life support.

"There has been a lot of progress in terms of transport in space, but not life support. It gave us an insight into what it is like for Tim Peake and the team."

Some of the other projects that students from Northern Ireland have entered include a new text service to alert farmers when cows are ready for calving, the impact of using electronic devices on sleep and 'shame signs' for speeding motorists.

The BT Young Scientist of the Year competition is set to conclude today.

Belfast Telegraph

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