BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition

Desmond College on Today with Sean O’Rouke

January 9, 2020

Desmond College student Oisin O’Sullivan on Today with Sean O’Rouke.
Select Young Scientists on RTE today.

Desmond College Students Set Up at the BTYSE 2020

January 8, 2020

Desmond College Student at the BT Young Scientists Exhibition showing iScope5

Desmond College Students at the BTYSE 2020 in Dublin

Desmond College students set up at the BT Young Scientists Exhibition 2020 in Dublin

2020 Jan: Desmond College Students setting up "Exercise is the Key@ at the BTYSE2020

56th BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition 2020

January 6, 2020

Excitement is building and all roads lead to 56th BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition 2020. On from 8th – 11th January, RDS Dublin

2020 Desmond College goes to the 56th BT Young Scientist Exhibition in Dublin

Desmond College Teacher, Donal Enright, on the Teacher Inspire shortlist!

September 19, 2019

Teachers Inspire shortlist highlights role of teachers in addressing societal challenges. DCU announced 20 teachers shortlisted from over 400 entries received this year.

The initiative, which is focused on highlighting the enormous contribution made by teachers in Irish society, was launched by DCU earlier this year, with the support of businessman and philanthropist, Dermot Desmond. 

Earlier this year, DCU called for members of the public to share their personal stories of how a teacher transformed their lives and / or their community. The 20 teachers announced today – five from each province – have been shortlisted from over 400 entries received from every corner of Ireland.

None of the teachers knew they were nominated in advance.

Announcing the shortlist, Professor Brian MacCraith, President of DCU, said:

“The entries submitted to Teachers Inspire Ireland demonstrate just how significant a role teachers play in Irish life. 

The nominations highlighted teachers dealing with issues such as homelessness, mental health, immigration, unplanned pregnancies, gender identity support, community regeneration, and climate change. They were submitted by schoolchildren, parents, and people whose schooldays are long behind them but who remember their teachers with great fondness and gratitude. 

What is abundantly clear from the nominations received is the extent to which so many teachers go above and beyond their ‘job description’. It was extraordinarily difficult to select a shortlist of 20 from all the amazing stories we received. However, the 20 teachers being celebrated today have had truly lasting and transformative impacts on the lives of their students and on their wider communities.”

Donal Enright, a business teacher, in Desmond College, was nominated by former student, Jack O’Connor, for his work in coaching students for the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition; and for his promotion of an entrepreneurial and humanitarian spirit amongst his students. 

Both staff and students in Desmond College, a school under the auspices of Limerick & Clare ETB,  are so proud that one of their own has been recognised in this way. “Meet The Irish College Students Working On A New Seed Planter For Malawian Farmers”

May 13, 2019

Jack O’Connor is one of the co-founders of Moyo Nua, an agricultural organization that takes its name from a combination of the word moyo, meaning life in the Malawian language of Chichewa, and nua, meaning new in Irish Gaelic. O’Connor isn’t a farmer—he’s an Irish city kid from Limerick—but the university sophomore has spent the past two years designing a seed planter with the hope of making farming in Malawi just a little bit easier.

Jack O'Connor: Moyo Nua

O’Connor was still in high school when he watched the film ‘One Dollar a Day’, a documentary born out of a series of viral YouTube videos featuring American college students living in rural Guatemala. Watching the film, O’Connor says, “nearly struck me to the core.” For a city kid, thinking about life as a subsistence farmer kicked him into action.

He started researching rural agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa, and that led him to Malawi, a country the United Nation calls “one of the most climate-fragile countries in the world.” In Malawi, about 80% of the country’s food is produced by smallholder farmers, and O’Connor was moved to design something that could ease the physical demands of farm labor there.

There was a lot of trial and error along the way. “We just, honestly, started throwing out ideas [and] looking at previous models that existed in the world,” says the University of Limerick sophomore, describing the project’s early days back at his secondary school. Eventually, explains O’Connor, “we came up with this idea of an ergonomic seed planter to allow the user—in this case, a smallholder farmer—to plant seeds without having to bend over.”

Jack O'Connor: Moyo Nua

O’Connor and classmate Diarmuid Curtin turned to a slew of experts—agronomists, mechanical engineers and experts in rural development all offered their advice on the planter’s design. The idea ended up winning the Science For Development Award at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition in Dublin in 2017, which turned out to be pretty crucial, since it came with a trip to Malawi where, with the help of an organization called Self Help Africa, the Limerick kids were finally able to get the planter into the hands of Malawian farmers for field testing.

In Malawi, the farmers made a number of suggestions for improvement, like making the tool out of locally sourced materials like bamboo. In total, 18 farmers from Southern Malawi tested the planter. That feedback, along with input from 13 retirees who tested the tool back in Ireland, all helped to inform subsequent iterations of the design. They’re currently on prototype number three, with a patent pending.

The visit to Malawi was humbling for O’Connor. “We were chatting with the farmers…about the importance of their children being able to attend school and how this planter, by reducing labor intensity…would allow their kids to start going [to school]…So that really hit home with me because I never considered, until I was actually over there, that the reality for some children is that they have to sacrifice education for sustenance.”

O’Connor enrolled at the University of Limerick after graduation from secondary school, and he kept working on the planter. At the university, the project took on a whole new life, as O’Connor met students like Catherine Hallinan, who felt herself immediately compelled to join Moyo Nua and work on the ergonomic planter. “[Jack] was telling me about it…and I convinced him to bring it in [to the school],” says Hallinan, excitedly. She has also been interested in finding ways to expand Moyo Nua’s focus, like offering social media training to young business students in Malawi.


BT’s 11th Business Bootcamp Programme for students

March 20, 2019

BT Young Scientist Business Bootcamp

Thirty students of the exhibiting intermediate and senior students from the 2019 BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition were invited to take part in a BT Young Scientist Business Bootcamp in March in conjunction with UCD where they experienced the world of technology commercialisation and entrepreneurship.

Included in these carefully selected students was Ciara Brouder from Desmond College.

This was an excellent platform where students were introduced to real-world problems and they had to work as a team to help find the best solutions. In the past, many new companies have been formed from this event and several of the past participants have successfully opened and operated their fledgling companies.

Desmond College students participating in BT Young Scientist Business Bootcamp

Analog Devices Welcome BT Young Scientist Finalists

February 13, 2019

Students of the 12 schools from Limerick that participated in the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition 2019, including the 13 students from Desmond College were guests in Analog Devices at their European headquarters in Raheen Business Park on Wednesday 6th of February.

There was a panel of past participants of the exhibition who offered career and subject choice advice to the students. The event was organised by Brian O’Meara and Annie O’Sullivan who were joined on the night by two Vice Presidents of Analog Devices.

Desmond College BT Young Scientist and Technology 2019 finalists pictured at a host event organised by Analog Devices
Desmond College BT Young Scientist and Technology 2019 finalists pictured at a host event organised by Analog Devices

BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition 2019

January 22, 2019

Desmond College wish to thank the following for their kind donation and support of our Young Scientists 2019.

Bank of Ireland
Desmond College Parents Association
Munster Business Equipment
Acme Blinds
Gatsby For Men
Tadgh O’Connor Hardware

Ciara Brouder, Desmond College BTYSE2019
Stephanie Hughes, Technical Product Manager, Portwest presents the Portwest Special Award to Ciara Brouder at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition 2019, for her project “Safety Harness Attachment to Prevent Suspension Trauma”

Desmond College Finalists in
the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition 2019

January 11, 2019

Fiona Kelly & Kayla McMahon – Transition Year Students

Students involved: Fiona Kelly & Kayla McMahon
Year: Transition Year
Title of Project: Eye in the Cab
Category: Intermediate Technology Group
Teachers involved: Mr Donal Enright

Agriculture is a huge part of the life of the people of Ireland. The fatality rate in agriculture is far higher than any other economic sector. A large proportion of all fatal workplace accidents occur in agriculture, even though only a small number of people are employed in farming. Accidents involving tractors were the single biggest contributor -30% of accidents involved in the farming /agricultural sector between 2008 & 2017. Of those, there was 43 deaths or 67% of the accidents where farmers were crushed by their vehicle after it toppled over.

Using an electronic “gyro”, we have built a device that recognises the angle of the tractor, and with the aid of an internal siren, it will alert the driver once a tractor has reached a 350 tilt. The device will also alert the drivers’ ICE (in case of emergency) contact on their mobile phone via a SIM800L, once the vehicle has reached or exceeded 400 from normal. The “Eye in the Cab” device can be affixed to the inside of the cab via velcro.

Shane Baguio, Joanne Lai and Marcelina Krzywdzinska  – Transition Year Students

Students involved
& Year:
Joanne Lai – Transition Year
Marcelina Krzywdzinska – Transition Year
Shane Baugio – 5th Year
Title of Project: The Rise & Fall of The Fall Army Worm (Spodoptera Frugiperda)
Category: Senior Biological Group
Teachers involved: Mr Donal Enright

Anyone with a knowledge of agriculture in Africa has heard of the fall armyworm (FAW), a pervasive agricultural pest native to South and Central America that has ruthlessly worked its way across nearly the whole of the continent, after arriving in West Africa in early 2016 and making its way south of the Sahara and into Malawi by December of that same year.

FAW has spread quickly due to its short reproductive cycle and ability to travel long distances quickly in the adult (moth) stage.

We have designed two devices that Malawian farmers can place at the base of their crops, the first is designed around “no technology” made from 500ml plastic bottles, which is inverted and has specially cut out sections. Placing raw sugar cane in the base will attract adult moths to lay their larvae inside the bottle. We have painted panels of the device in order to increase the internal temperature of the device in an effort to further attract the moths.

We have cut serrated edges into the external features of the bottle which will ensure the FAW will injure itself if it attempts to crawl out, farmers will be able to collect the larvae and feed them to their chickens or place them in a bucket of water before reusing the device.

Ciara Brouder – Transition Year Student

Students involved: Ciara Brouder
Year: Transition Year
Title of Project: Safety Harness Attachment to Prevent Suspension Trauma
Category: Intermediate Technology Individual
Award: Special Award: The Portwest Workplace Safety Award
Teachers involved: Mr Donal Enright

I have created a universal safety harness attachment to combat suspension trauma phenomena.

The safety attachment can be deployed in the case of an arrested fall and used to relieve pressure from the worker’s legs and chest, decreasing the risk of fainting and cardiac arrest, both of which can severely impair the worker’s rescue. The safety attachment is a simple but effective ergonomically placed device that can be activated using one hand movement.

It is constructed of lightweight aluminium and used a strap designed for use in mountaineering along with a carabiner can be attached/detached from the fixation point on the front of any standard safety harness.

Orla Mullane and Lucy Flaherty – Second Year Students

Students involved: Orla Mullane & Lucy Flaherty
Year: 2nd Year
Title of Project: Synthesis and Analysis of Biodegradable Polymers-Enhanced with Organic Waste
Category: Junior Mathematical Physical Chemical Group
Award: Display Award
Teachers involved: Mr Donal Enright

Currently, it is estimated that the worldwide production of petroleum based plastic is around 100 million tons annually, and that seven million barrels of petroleum are required per day to produce that plastic. It is estimated that 80% of sea turtles and roughly 70% of seabirds are ingesting plastic, which clogs their digestive systems.

As a result, some one million birds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die each year due to plastic-related incidents.

We made an alternative plastic using organic materials. Our plan was to test the new type of plastic for strength and its ability to dissolve in water, we have made several items out of our plastic e.g. drinking straw and six-pack rings.

Initially, we made plastic with complete organic materials, such as corn-starch, vinegar, water and glycerin. After testing this we added agar in an effort to make the plastic stronger. We have now added keratin derived from the feather of chickens, which is high in protein that will increase the tensile strength.

Victoria Brouder and Conor Fox Transition Year Students

Students involved: Victoria Brouder and Conor Fox
Year: Transition Year
Title of Project: A scientific investigation into the wild growth of and abundance of Agaricus campestris (wild field mushrooms) in West Limerick
Category: Intermediate Biological and Ecological Group
Teachers involved: Ms Aoife Culhane

Conor Fox and Victoria Brouder’s project is a scientific investigation into the wild growth of and abundance of Agaricus campestris (wild field mushrooms) in West Limerick. They are in the intermediate biological & Ecological section.

As part of their BTYSE project, they are investigating why there was an abundance of mushrooms in West Limerick in the Autumn/Summer 2018. While weather played a pivotal role, they wished to investigate further.

They tested the soil to see if anything else was a contributing factor in the growth of these mushrooms. They tested the soil for PH levels, nutrient ions, organic matter content, fertilizer application, field usage and distance from waterways. They gathered 8 soil samples from West Limerick farmers, who also kindly filled-out a survey including questions such as
‘did you notice an increase in the growth of mushrooms?’,
‘did you fertilize the land where the sample was taken from?’,
‘where the soil sample was taken, was it in a shaded area?’.

They then got the help of Norma McKenna from Southern Scientific Farranfore who aided them in their testing.

In conclusion, when they analyzed the results they found that every test except one sample had a low reading of phosphorus and all the other samples were high, this could be a factor why the mushrooms grew. All of their tests had a high reading of Copper which could have also been a factor.

In their survey, 87.5% farmers fertilized their land and 12.5% didn’t. Weather also played a vital role in the wild growth of the mushrooms as having a snowfall in March followed by a very hot summer is not usual for us. The conditions necessary for germination are water oxygen and warmth. The snowfall causing the ground to become very wet and the heat off the sun both provided the conditions that were necessary for germination.

So to conclude their research, they found that the weather, the low phosphorus, fertilizer application and the high sulfur all played vital roles in the wild growth and abundance of Agaricus campestris in west Limerick in the summer/autumn of 2018.
A big thank you also to Mr Shiels for helping with the display.

Matthew O Connor Transition Year Student

Students involved: Matthew O’Connor
Year: Transition Year
Title of Project: Sharing- but not caring
Category: Intermediate Social and Behavioral
Award: Display Award
Teachers involved: Ms Aoife Culhane

I myself post way too much information on my Instagram and Snapchat. And I’m certain I can’t be the only person out of the millions of people that use social media that over share personal details about themselves.

This spurred me on to find out if people’s attitudes towards social media and how we use it. I did some research on different parts of my project and found out more information on social media and our sharing habits. I also created a survey and analysed my findings I found that the majority of the population surveyed are on social media, the most popular media platform is snapchat.

67.5% of the population surveyed are not friends with everyone on their social media accounts in real life.
65.4% of the population said they share their birthday online and a lot of people share their location online.
I also spoke to some of my fellow students and teachers who agreed that we are sharing too much online, it was interesting to see the difference between peoples online and offline sharing attitudes with many students being far more willing to share thoughts and information online rather than face to face with their peers or family.

Emma O'Shea and Rebecca Enright – Second Year Students

Students involved: Rebecca Enright and Emma O’Shea
Year: 2nd Year
Title of Project: A Statistical Analysis of St. Swithin’s Day
Category: Junior Mathematical and Physical
Teachers involved: Ms Aoife Culhane

We based our BT Young Scientist project on St Swithin’s Day. St Swithin’s Day is held every year on the 15th of July. It is said that whatever the weather is like on St Swithin’s Day it will be the same for the 40 consecutive days and nights after.

We analysed the amount of precipitation across 5 weather stations in the North, South, East, West and Midlands of Ireland. We tabulised, analysed and graphed our results.

We found that 69% of St Swithins Days had rain. The average amount of rain on St Swithin’s Day was 3.2 mm. Only in 58% of cases did the weather match between St Swithin’s Day and the subsequent 40 Days. The year with the highest recorded consistency of weather between St Swithin’s Day and the subsequent 40 days was 2012 at 73%. Only 24% of the subsequent 40 days weather was inconsistent to St Swithin’s Day.

In conclusion for the data we analysed, there has been no occurrence reaching 40 days. We would like to thank Mr Culhane who helped us with our display.

Jan 2019 : Desmond College Students photographed near the RDS in Dublin as they were about to enter the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition 2019

January 11, 2019

@CookMedLimerick : Delighted to be supporting this amazing group of students @DesmondCollege, Newcastlewest, Limerick @BTYSTE. The most represented of ALL Limerick schools

@BTinIreland: Delighted to have our former winners back as volunteers this week... @JackOConnor16 #btyste :
Limerick students enjoy interactive demos at BT Young Scientist

January 11, 2019

Orla Mullane and Emma O'Shea of Desmond College Limerick at the Cook Medical stand of the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition, Picture: Andres Poveda (

“LIMERICK’s brightest young minds have descended on the RDS Arena as the BT Young Scientist showcase continues this Thursday.

This year, 12 schools will represent Limerick in the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition, with a panel of judges set to examine 42 innovative projects, covering a wide range of topics.

Among those students are Orla Mullane and Lucy Flaherty from Desmond College in Newcastle West, who checked out the interactive demos at the Cook Medical stand.

The Cook Medical stand features some of the technologies used by the company that eliminate the need for open surgery.

The company, who employs more than 850 people at its Limerick base, is giving students at the RDS showcase the chance to watch interactive demos on non-invasive medical devices and human anatomy.

Students can also compete against each other to remove as many gallstones from the common bile duct as possible in 30 seconds, with a timed game based on technology used by the company.”

Read the full article on >>

Limerick Leader: “County Limerick students come up with eco-friendly solution to a devastating problem”

January 9, 2019

Pictured with their plastic-bottle moth-trap are, from left, Shane Baguio, Joanne Lai and Marcelina Krzywozinska : image from LimerickLeader

“AN invasive pest which is rapidly spreading and devastating crops in sub-Saharan Africa is the focus of the project by a trio of students from Desmond College in Newcastle West.

And the three have come up with what they believe is a cheap, low-tech, eco-friendly and easily accessible solution to the problem which has rampaged through 20 countries in the past three years.

The intriguingly titled The Rise and Fall of the Fall Army Worm is the only senior entry from Limerick to have made the cut this year and is the work of fifth year student Shane Baguio and TY students Joanne Lai and Marcelina Krzywozinska, all of whom have been living and studying in Newcastle West for years.

The trio first learned about the Fall Army Worm from teacher Donal Enright who had himself found out about the pest on a visit to Africa last year. “Because of our ethnic backgrounds, we felt empathy,” explained Shane who was born in the Phillipines while Joanne was born in Hong Kong and Marcelina in Poland.

They set out to do further research and found the Fall Army Worm originated in Central and South America but was discovered in Nigeria in early 2016. Because of its short reproductive cycle and its ability to travel long distances quickly in the adult or moth stage, the Fall Army Worm has now infested some 20 countries, including South Africa, and its presence is suspected in several more.

“Because the worms feed on over 80 plant species and develop into moths that can fly long distances, combating them requires coordinated, multi-pronged efforts,” the girls point out.

Since 2016, the worms have damaged over 1.5 million hectares of land and destroyed staple crops like corn, sorghum, and pasture grasses. In some hotspots, up to 80% of infested crops have been ruined. “As a result, many countries are expected to suffer from food insecurity both this year and next,” the girls argue.

A big problem, Shane explained, is that chemical pesticides are ineffective in tackling the issue and also are either unavailable or non-affordable. Instead, she said, farmers and their families hand-pick the worms to prevent them eating crops but it is an uphill task as, at adult stage, a moth can lay from 100-200 eggs a day.

Proposals to grow worm resistant strains of crops have been examined as a solution, the students discovered as part of their research but that is a long-term solution. Intercropping, they point out, also offers some potential but is years away and requires additional knowledge and seeds.

But by focusing on the moths and what attracts the adult moths the girls came up with a solution, a moth-trap made out of plastic bottles. One trap simply uses leaves to attract the moths while a second one uses tea-lights and has proven to be more effective. The traps can trap up to 400 moths a day.

As part of their research, the students from Desmond College linked up with a school in Malawi, a country where damage from the Fall Army Worm has been significant. Approximately 10% of’ dry season maize in Malawi in 2018 is estimated to have been lost, double that of 2017. The traps have be trialled in Malawi conditions and have proved to be effective.

The big advantage of their solution, the three Desmond College students point out, is that the moth-traps are free to make and free or extremely cheap to run.”

Read full article on >>

Limerick Leader: “BT Young Scientist:
Limerick’s bright young minds set to take pioneering projects to RDS”

January 8, 2019

“This year, 12 schools will represent Limerick in the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition, with a panel of judges set to examine 42 innovative projects, covering a wide range of topics important to students.”

“Among the Limerick projects will be an investigation of the effects of the cervical cancer screening scandal on Irish women, carried out by students in Salesian Secondary College in Pallaskenry, and the development of a safety device that monitors conditions in a tractor, carried out by students in Desmond College in Newcastle West.”

“The exhibition takes place at the RDS Arena from January 9 to January 12, with final judging and the awards ceremony set to take place on Friday, January 11, in the BT Arena.”

Read full article on >>

BT Young Scientist: Limerick Leader: Article by - no image credit provided : Big Limerick entry for the BT Young Scientist Exhibition

December 18, 2018

The young people of Limerick are thriving in the world of science with a total of 42 projects from the city and county making the cut to qualify for this year’s BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition.

With one month to go, the Limerick finalists are busily preparing their projects for the 55th annual exhibition.

Taking place at the RDS, Dublin from January 9 to 12, the brightest minds from across the island will gather under one roof to compete for the coveted title of BT Young Scientist and Technologist of the Year 2019.

This year, Limerick will be represented by 12 schools from across the county.

Three students from Desmond College in Newcastlewest make up the only senior level entry from Limerick. Their project looks at “The Rise and Fall of The Fall Army Worm (Spodoptera Frugiperda).”

All over Africa, countries are battling Fall Army Worms. Since pesticides are not sustainable, their goal is to manufacture an object which can trap them.

Click here to read the full article on

BT Young Scientist Competition 2019

October 24, 2018

We are so proud to announce that seven projects, involving 13 students, from Desmond College, have been accepted into the BT Young Scientist Competition this year!

22 Oct 2018: Desmond College is proud to announce that 7 projects, involving 13 students, is in the 2019 BT Young Scientist Competition