Shauna O’Keeffe, a third year student from Castleisland Community College, is hoping to win her second national title in as many years in the National Sophia Physics Competition.
Shauna was part of a group that won the Junior category last year and this year she undertook her own research and entered the competition again She has now been shortlisted as a finalist.
Five different transition year groups have also been shortlisted as finalists in their categories.
Electrostatics In Bees
Shauna’s project is a study about electrostatics in bees and how they interact with flowers in nature. Bees are among the earth’s hardest working creatures and are one of the most important plant pollinators.
This means they help plants reproduce and help to produce many of our favourite fruit and vegetables.
Dominic Clarke and Heather Whitney from the University of Bristol have shown that bees can sense the electric field that surrounds a flower.
Shauna has studied their work to find out more about electrostatics in bees.
Encouraging Leaving Cert Physics
The project also encourages Leaving Certificate Physics as she used demonstration and information from the Physics course.
The Women in Physics team of: Rachel Murphy, Abbie Mahony, Emma Kerins, Shauna Tangney and Bernadette O’Mahony dedicated their research to the work of : Mildren Dresselhaus, Rosalind Franklin, Marie Curie and Sophie Germain.
They carried out extensive research on the works of each of these fantastic physicists, learning of their struggles of being recognised for their work due to their gender.
The World Around Us
The girls also conducted a survey online to gather information regarding physics in junior cycle.
The team involved with the Physics in Nature and the World Around Us is comprised of: Kerry Hennessy, Hector Barranco Canales, Freddie Galwey and Sarah O’ Connor and their project focused on the physics behind certain species.
Each student picked one animal to research the physics of their behaviour. They studied the pig, honeybee, chameleon and beluga whale.
They learned about the communication techniques of each species and gathered some very insightful information such as the communication techniques commonly carried out by the honeybees which is known as the ‘waggle dance’ and Beluga whales use vocalisation in communication.
Women in Physics Theme
The team of: Chloe Barrett, Lauren O’Sullivan, Bríd-Anne Crowley, Danielle Flynn and Celia McMahon also chose a Women in Physics theme for their project.
Their choice of title was directed by their desire to educate people about the inspirational work of women physicists.
They each chose a female physicist that inspired them. They researched the work of people like: Marie Curie, Katherine Johnson, Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Shirley Jackson.
Past Pupil Denise
They also conducted an interview with past pupil Denise Crowley. They discussed with Denise her experience of studying physics for her Leaving Certificate in Castleisland Community College and how they could encourage more females to take it up as a subject.
Ciara O’Shea, Mary Lily Keane, Jessica Pokiri, Dorothea Koppen formed a team to undertake their project: The Physics of Bees.
Waggle Dance And Physics
This project focused on bees and the physics related to the species. They researched different aspects of the bees such as how bees fly, bee vision, communication through the waggle dance and the physics of the beehive.
They learned that through the waggle dance bees communicate the distance a patch of flowers is from the hive.
They learned that bees have five eyes, two for detection of light and the other three for navigation.
Hexagon – The Optimal Shape
Did you know that the sound of a bee’s beating wings produces their iconic buzzing noise ? Or that the hexagon is the optimal shape for honey production because it requires the least amount of wax while still being stable?
These are just a sample of what the girls discovered by taking part in the Sophia competition.
Elizabeth Morschell also set out her project to highlight the achievements of Women in Physics and titled her project as such.
Elizabeth chose the topic as she is very interested in studying physics in the future.
She wanted to learn more about the significant work of women in physics and the value of their work.
She discovered Sophie Germain, a French mathematician, physicist, and philosopher. She was inspired by the strength shown by Sophie during a time where women were discriminated against. Elizabeth explored Sophie’s work both in physics and mathematics and even displayed some of Sophie’s work on her poster.
Winner’s Revealed on March 15th
Winners will be announced next week on March 15th and all five groups entered the competition in the transition year category.
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