Home News Education In Pictures: Laois duo enjoy huge success at Intel Grand Final

In Pictures: Laois duo enjoy huge success at Intel Grand Final

Timahoe NS students Seamus Ramsbottom and David Galwey were the toast of their school as they returned from the Intel Mini Scientist national finals with the overall runner-up prize.

The talented 12-year-old’s wowed thirteen judges throughout the day in the Aula Maxima at Maynooth University to bring home the much coveted award.

This was a remarkable achievement considering over 7,200 students entered the nationwide competition.

Of those 7,200 children, only 64 of them exhibited at the All-Ireland final with 24 projects making the final cut.

The boys qualified for the national finals with their project called ‘Let’s Look at Ammonia’ after exhibiting at the regional finals held in Blanchardstown IT last December.

The project focused on excessive ammonia levels in the air as a result of intensive farming and slurry spreading in particular.

Seamus said: “Agriculture accounts for 98% of ammonia emissions in Ireland.

“It was identified as an issue in 2013 but since the abolition of milk quotas in 2015 and the huge increase in the national dairy herd, it has become an even bigger problem.

“We are farmers, scientists and environmentalists too. We want to help resolve this issue.”

David said: “Biggest issue is with splash plate slurry spreading.

“This method of spreading releases the slurry as a spray and ammonia gas escapes into the atmosphere.

“Splash plates are banned in Germany and Holland but unfortunately most slurry in Ireland is spread this way.

“There are alternative low emission methods that farmers can use and the government must enforce these methods.

“We are in the process of testing atmospheric ammonia levels (ammonia in the air) on Seamus’ farm.

“We tested the ammonia levels during the ‘off season’ and now we are re-testing since the spreading season started back on the 15th of January.

Seamus Ramsbottom and David Galway

“When finished, we will compare the results which will highlight the effect the slurry has on air quality”.

Throughout the project the boys have had correspondence with the Soil Science Department in UCD, Teagasc and even received a letter from the Minister for Agriculture and the Marine, Michael Creed.

“It was great to get a letter from the minister” said Seamus.

“We gave him a number of recommendations from our project and he said he would need to consider them if we are to meet our 2030 emissions targets.”

David also explained how they “received an invitation from Dr. Dominika Krol in Teagasc to go down to Johnstown Castle in Wexford and help her with ammonia trials she will be doing in early 2020. We can’t wait to go”.

Both boys were thrilled with the outcome.

Seamus was delighted that “all the hard work paid off. The judges were very nice and we can be happy that we gave it our best shot”.

David “really enjoyed the experience” and was “amazed at the interest in the project”.

The boys’ wonderful backdrop and display also came in for huge attention and praise at the Maynooth exhibition.

Supporting Seamus and David at the event were teachers Michael McEvoy and Anne Mathews, their siblings and proud parents.

The latest win continues the extraordinary run of success that Timahoe NS has enjoyed in the competition.

Over the last seven years, it has picked up a national award at every final, All-Ireland runner-up 2018, 2019 and 2020, highly commended in 2017 and back-to-back all-Ireland winners in 2016 and 2015.

Now in its 14th year, the Intel Mini Scientist competition gives young students the chance to explore science through project-based learning and exhibitions.

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