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Award-winning young scientists not following the crowd

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ST BRENDAN’S COLLEGE picked up another piece of silverware last week when intrepid scientists James Knoblauch, Harry Knoblauch and Oran O’Donoghue won the Best Group award at the 54th BT Young Science and Technology Exhibition.

The 16 year olds, who are all currently in 5th year, also received the RTÉ Best Social & Behavioural Science Project Award. This accolade comes with a day shadowing a well-known RTÉ DJ.

The Sem students’ project, titled “An investigation into conformity and how minorities influence it”, demonstrated how one person can influence the behaviour of others using a unique approach to studying group dynamics. In two controlled psychology experiments, they focussed on the influence of an individual within a group setting.

The boys began work for their project in November when they found out they had qualified to exhibit their project at the BT Young Scientist and Technology competition in the RDS in January 2018.

In the course of their work for the project they designed their own social psychology experiment which they ran on over 100 students from St Brendan’s College and the nearby St Brigid’s secondary school. Their broad sample size provided their results and they received an average rate of conformity of 40% from that research. To further legitimise their findings, the boys took the historically famous Asch Experiment and changed it so it was a minority influence experiment. They then used 45 students from their school as participants and recorded an average rate of conformity at 35%.

Given the proximity of the results (35% to 40%) the boys concluded that across multiple groups there is a fairly consistent rate of conformity at approximately 37.5%.

The boys had a great week representing their school at the exhibition and were interview by Will Goodbody of RTÉ News, Kevin O’Sullivan of the Irish Times and by the BT Young Scientist Media team. The boys were also visited by Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae, South Ireland MEP Séan Kelly and RTÉ weather lady Evelyn Cusack.

“It was a really enjoyable experience,” said James Knoblauch, “and all of us on the team had a great time in Dublin”.

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Killarney woman completes every parkrun in the country

By Sean Moriarty A Killarney woman has entered the record books after completing every parkrun in the country – and more. There are one hundred open parkruns in Ireland and […]

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By Sean Moriarty

A Killarney woman has entered the record books after completing every parkrun in the country – and more.

There are one hundred open parkruns in Ireland and a further three that take place behind closed doors in prisons and in health institutions and Majella Moloney has completed all of them.

On Saturday last she completed the Irish list by finishing the Borrisokane run in County Offaly.

She was inspired to take up parkruns by her work colleague Stephen Byrne after suffering a personal crisis in 2017.

“It is so good for my mental health, I can’t explain the feel good factor,” she told the Killarney Advertiser. “My personal circumstances changed dramatically in January 2017 and I needed to do something for my mental health.”

She has also done parkruns all over Europe; in total she has participated in 178 runs in countries like Britain, Germany, Poland and Italy.

She has also volunteered for 180 parkruns, often acting as ‘tail walker’ on the event she had entered.

In March this year Majella completed her parkrun Alphabet Challenge by participating in a parkrun in 26 different cities – one for each letter – York in England and Zielona Góra in Western Poland were the two most difficult letters to tick off.

“parkrun has helped me so much,” she added, “I have made friends all over the world.”

Later this year she will join her English friends Don and Sue Esslemont on a parkrun in Britain.

“Sue is doing her 500th walk this year. I first met them in Buncrana [County Donegal] and they encouraged me to travel to more events – it is one big family.”

She also paid tribute to Bertie and Bairbre Hickey from Tralee who have joined her on over 20 runs across Ireland.

SIDEBAR

A new parkrun for four to 14-year-olds has been launched in Killarney.

The first local junior parkrun will take place in Killarney House and Gardens on Sunday at 9.30am.

“Tralee has been holding junior parkruns for a while now but this is a first for Killarney,” Majella said.

The adult Killarney parkrun will take place as usual on Saturdays.

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Students awarded for their contribution to school life

By Michelle Crean Students were honoured for their contribution to school life this week during a special end of year awards ceremony. Held in the school gym on Wednesday afternoon, […]

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By Michelle Crean

Students were honoured for their contribution to school life this week during a special end of year awards ceremony.

Held in the school gym on Wednesday afternoon, the students from St Brigid’s Presentation were presented with a variety of awards from sport to science, music and visual art while Sixth Year student Saoirse Coffey received the Orla Benson Award.

“During this school year, our students have showcased their brilliance and extensive talents,” teacher Adrienne Brosnan, said.

“We are all so proud of these outstanding achievements across all aspects of school life. Awards day is a truly special occasion for all members of the St Brigid’s community and one which we relish the opportunity to celebrate. It is a time of anticipation, a time of excitement and a time of great joy. The awards that are presented are a testament to that dedication and we also acknowledge all the great work that is done by the teachers here in St Brigid’s.”

Sixth Year students also said their final goodbyes ahead of their State exams next month.

“We wish them the best of luck as they spread their wings and leave the shelter of St Brigid’s for the beginning of a new adventure.”

AWARD WINNERS

Other awards winners were:

Anna Dunlea received the Contribution to Graphics award while Leah Vinluan got the Design and Communication Graphics award.

Clodagh O’Connor and Sarah O’Sullivan both received the Contribution to Visual Art award.

Abbie Finan was awarded Soccer: Player of the Year, Chloe Hue Senior Football: Player of the Year, Emily Buckley 1st Year Football: Player of the Year, Abbey Cronin 2nd Year Football: Player of the Year, and Andrea Murphy Junior Football; Player of the Year, Senior Basketball: Most Valued Player went to Tara Donnellan, the Minor Basketball: Most Valued Player was given to Ciara O’Sullivan and the Cadette Basketball: Most Valued Player went to Leah McMahon.

Kara Huggard earned herself the LCA Student of the Year, Sarah McGrath received the CEIST Award, Excellence in Science was awarded to Emma Myers and Jennie O’Mahony, while Rita Akhter received the Overall Contribution to STEM.

Bríd O’Connor who wrote the book Spark presented Saoirse O’Sullivan with the Outstanding Achievements in Music award.

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