Two Ballyclare High School pupils will see their prizewinning science project being put into practice in Africa next month.
Year 11 students Zoe Cheshire and Emily Lecky won two awards in the BT Young Scientist competition.
They were congratulated on their success at an exhibition in Dublin recently by Education Minister John O’Dowd.
Their project ‘Solar Powered Water Sanitation’ came second in the technology category for the intermediate group, but won a special award by Irish Aid in association with WorldWise Global Schools and Self Help Africa.
The special award involves a trip to Uganda to see their project become reality and to meet local farmers and a women’s group that their project could potentially help.
The science behind their project involves focusing solar radiation onto a bottle of water which raises the temperature high enough to pasteurise the water and deactivate potential pathogens, such as cholera.
The judges were impressed not only with the way that Emily and Zoe explained and understood their project, but also that it was a “cheap, viable product” which could help the many countries affected by water borne diseases.
Congratulating the prizewinners, Mr O’Dowd said: “All students who made it to the finals should be proud of their achievements. For those who have made it this far, this week’s exhibition is the culmination of many months of hard work at home and in school.
“I was impressed with the standard of entries and enjoyed meeting and chatting with pupils from local schools. The enthusiasm they showed in their work was evident and is an encouraging sign as we seek to attract more young people to study STEM subjects.
“I would also like to pay tribute to the school staff who have supported them over recent months. These individuals have spent time to help and encourage their pupils and to instil a passion for learning which will stand them in good stead.
“As it reaches its milestone of 50 years, the BT Young Scientist event goes from strength to strength, helping encourage and challenge the innovators of tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, at their monthly Development Committee meeting, local councillors congratulated the young scientists on their success and approved a funding request from Ballyclare High School which will enable both students to take part in next month’s trip to Uganda.
The prize won by Emily and Zoe only covered the costs for one pupil and one teacher. But committee members agreed that the council should contribute £1,665, which will pay for the other pupil’s flights, accommodation, transport, food, vaccinations and insurance.