Spotlight on BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition IRC special award winners

Posted: 2 February, 2021

This January, Seán O’Sullivan and Taha Njie of Coláiste Chiaráin in Croom, County Limerick, won the Irish Research Council’s special award at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition for their project ‘Shining a Light on School Coronavirus Cleaning Protocols’. This award was for the best project combining more than one branch of science or combining science with humanities and/or social science. To celebrate their achievement, we asked the winners to tell us about their project and what they hope to do after graduating.


What was the subject of your winning project, and what inspired you to pursue that research topic?

When we came back to school in September, we were curious about how effective the cleaning protocols that were implemented in our school in order to keep the staff and students safe were. From our observations in class, we were interested to see if the desk cleaning effort made by the students was as effective as it could be. We decided to investigate.

We surveyed 180 students and 26 teachers and collected data on desk cleaning from over 106 desks and 20 desks for areas touched by students. We compared the quality of cleaning between boys and girls and across all year groups of the school. We also compared the quality of cleaning for about 40 students before and after showing them an instructional video.


What does the Irish Research Council special award mean to you?

We were delighted to receive the Irish Research Council award. We felt honoured to receive such a prestigious award that many brilliant projects in the past had achieved. We feel that it acknowledged the effort we put into our research, experiments, data collection and handling.


What are some of the benefits of independent research for students in Ireland?

Independent research enables us students to go beyond what we are taught in the classroom. It teaches us valuable life skills like information gathering, working collaboratively with our peers and problem solving. We really enjoyed doing this project, and overcoming the challenges that came our way during the process gave us a sense of achievement at every step of the way, making us proud of our work.


What are your plans after you leave school?

Seán: After my formal education, I hope to become involved in the fields of engineering, electrical engineering, computer science and space, inventing and designing products that I hope will leave the world in a better place than when I arrived.

Taha: Once I have completed secondary school, I would like to be heavily involved in aviation, aeronautical engineering or mechanical engineering. I also have interest in biology as you learn about the small building blocks of life. These are all topics which I’m most interested in because of the fascination I had when I was very young.


Thank you very much for the award!

Seán and Taha


For further details about Seán and Taha’s methods and key findings, watch their project video:

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