Five Transition Year students from Presentation Secondary School, Castleisland reached the National Finals of the BT Young Scientist Competition this year. The first group of finalists were: Ciara Cahill and Emma Keane with a project titled Moody Foody.
Emma and Ciara investigated the effects that food has on our mood, fitness, sleep and heart rate. They first followed their normal diet for a week and then they each made a specific diet to follow for week.
Ciara went on an unhealthy diet while Emma did the Keto diet and they recorded their results each evening.
What they discovered was as follows: when Ciara went on the unhealthy diet, she was drained, stressed and her concentration in class was poor.
Her mood went from being content and confident to irritable and stressed due to the excessive amounts of ultra–processed food and lack of nutrients that she consumed during the week of the experiment.
Emma had to stop the Keto diet on day four and got what is known as the ‘Keto flu’ a group of symptoms that may appear two to seven days after starting a ketogenic diet, like nausea, vomiting, and fatigue, as the body goes into a state of ketosis.
Fat as a Primary Fuel
This is where the body uses fat as a primary fuel source therefore burning more resting calories. As a result, her mood went from being calm and content to being more irritable in just four days after a change of food.
When asked about their experience of BT the girls said they learned from the project how important a balanced diet is and how something as little as food choice can affect your day-to-day life.
“We loved doing BT and we learned a lot from doing our project and most importantly we had fun while doing it with Ms. Dooley.
“It was a great experience for us, and we would definitely recommend BT to other students,” said the enthusiastic students.
The second group of finalists were: Megan Dennehy, Clodagh Coffey and Julia Curtin.
These girls explored the behavioural effects that COVID 19 has had on young children. They worked closely with the local primary schools.
They interviewed, surveyed and observed the school community to see if they saw a difference in the students because they have seen at first-hand the difference between the behaviours and social interactions of students before Covid and after being in lock-down.
Life in a Classroom
“These are really the best people to interview because a lot of them would have worked with children of the same age for a long time and they would see any differences that emerged.
They provided an insight into what life in a classroom is like for both the teachers and the children. An example of a question they asked the teachers was: Did you see a difference in the students co-operation in classes and their communication with one another.
On finishing this project, the girls figured out that the children have been hugely affected socially and academically due to being in lockdown.
Confident in Socialising
In a brief explanation, changes need to be made. Children need to be taught how to share with each other properly. The school curriculum needs to be altered for the children to understand and learn at the level and speed they can.
Lastly work needs to be put into teaching children about their mental health and how to keep it healthy as well as teaching them how to be confident in socialising. This can be done by encouraging things such as eye contact and facing people when talking to them in all situations. Whether this is taught from parents or at school, all these solutions could really help these students in the future.
Megan Dennehy said that her BT Young Scientist journey was one she will never forget.
“I picked up on so many different skills during this project, such as teamwork, research skills and communication skills. Ms. Dooley was a huge help when it came to starting our project and she guided us through each step of this experience,” said Megan.
Working as a Team
Clodagh Coffey also outlined what she gained for the experience: “I learned so much about working as a team, doing interviews and presentations along with doing research and putting it all together. It was so interesting to go to all the different schools and see first-hand how the children have been affected since being in lock-down most of their lives,” she said.
Back from Lockdown
Julia Curtin was asked what she would do differently if given another opportunity to enter BT and her response was that she’d like to go around to more schools and do more surveys and interviews.
“But what I think would really help would be to observe the children while they were outside playing at lunchtime to see how they behave around each other after coming back from lock-down,” said Julia.
“Everyone at Presentation Secondary School, Castleisland is very proud of these girls who will now go on to enter their projects into the SciFest@college competition held at MTU Kerry in May,” according to a statement on behalf of the management and staff of ‘The Pres.’
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