Community College Team Wins National Sophia Physics Competition

Castleisland Community College’s national physics competition winners. Included are, from left: Ciara O’Shea, Danielle Flynn, Chloe Barrett, Mary Keane, Celcia McMahon, Lauren O’Sullivan, Jessica Pokiri, Hector Canales, Kellie Sheehy, teacher; Sarah O’Connor, Shauna O’Keeffe, Kerry Hennessy, Freddie Galway, Nancy O’Connor, teacher and Elizabeth Moerschell. 
The Castleisland Community College Transition Year Special Prize winners : Rachel Murphy, Abbie Mahony, Emma Kerins, Shauna Tagney and Bernadette O’Mahony.

Castleisland Community College students won first, third and four special prizes at the National Sophia Physics Competition.

The physics of bees by Ciara O’Shea, Mary Lily Keane and Jessica Pokiri won first prize in the Transition Year category.

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.

The Waggle Dance

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.

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 won third prize in the Transition Year category with her project Women in Physics.

Significant Work Of Women

Elizabeth chose the topic of women in physics 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.

Environmental Special Prize for Shauna

Shauna O’Keeffe in third year student won the Junior Cycle Environmental Special Prize.

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.

Flowers and Electronic Fields

Dominic Clarke and Heather Whitney from the University of Bristol have shown that bumblebees can sense the electric field that surrounds a flower. Shauna has studied their work to find out more about electrostatics in bees.

The project also encourages Leaving Certificate Physics as she used demonstration and information from the Physics course.

Struggles for Recognition

The Transition Year Special Prize Influencers was won by Rachel Murphy, Abbie Mahony, Emma Kerins, Bernadette O’Mahony and Shauna Tangney for their project Women in Physics.

The girls dedicated their research to the work of Mildred 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 girls also conducted an survey online to gather information regarding physics in junior cycle.

Transition Year Special Prize

The Transition Year Special Prize for group creativity was won by Kerry Hennessy, Hector Barranco Canales, Freddie Galwey and Sarah O’Connor for their project, Physics in Nature and the World Around Us.

This 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 of sound.

Inspired by Female Physicists

The Transition Year Special Prize Women in Physics was won by Chloe Barrett, Lauren O’Sullivan, BrídAnne Crowley, Danielle Flynn and Celia McMahon for their project Women in Physics.

The girls chose the title Women in Physics as they wanted to educate people about the inspirational work of women physicists.

They each chose a female physicist that inspired them. They researched the work of Marie Curie, Katherine Johnson, Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Shirley Jackson.

Physics as a Subject

They also conducted an interview with our 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.

Teresa Lonergan, principal, congratulated the students and was delighted for the budding physicists and their teachers, Nancy O’Connor and Kellie Sheehy.

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