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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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No spare change – no problem, as charity embraces new technology

By Sean Moriarty With less and less people carrying lose change around, one local group have now embraced a new technology to make donating much easier. For their annual Christmas fundraiser, the Killarney Conference of the St Vincent De Paul Society will have a special collection bucket that will allow supporters to use their bank […]

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By Sean Moriarty

With less and less people carrying lose change around, one local group have now embraced a new technology to make donating much easier.

For their annual Christmas fundraiser, the Killarney Conference of the St Vincent De Paul Society will have a special collection bucket that will allow supporters to use their bank card to make a donation.

The Society’s annual churchgate collection will be held on the weekend of December 11/12 at places of worship in the town and surrounding areas. This year’s collection has be renamed as ‘Giving Sunday’ and makes a return after the pandemic forced the cancellation of last year’s fundraiser.

“We are moving towards a cashless society,” explained Killarney Conference President Breda O’Dwyer. “You can tap and swipe your card to make a donation.”

Breda added that they are hoping to have the buckets ready by next week in time for the collection.

She said the local conference of the St Vincent De Paul Society has seen a marked increase in the number of families it is helping mainly caused by the increase in the cost of fuel and home heating products.

The annual St Vincent De Paul Society’s Christmas Jumper Day, in association with Radio Kerry is scheduled for December 10.

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SURVEY: Locals are reducing their social contacts

It is just over a week since new restrictions were announced by the Government in an another effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. In our latest online poll we asked our readers if they had reduced their social contacts over the course of the last week. An overwhelming 62.90% said they had reduced their […]

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It is just over a week since new restrictions were announced by the Government in an another effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

In our latest online poll we asked our readers if they had reduced their social contacts over the course of the last week.

An overwhelming 62.90% said they had reduced their level of contacts with people.

Interestingly, 37.10% of people had made no change to their lifestyle, but they could have been extra cautious already.

A tiny minority – just 1.61% – said they increased their social contacts over the last week.

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