Pupils from St John’s National School in Cratloe have won the grand final of this year’s Intel Mini Scientist competition. The final took place in Dublin on Friday between schools from all across Ireland to complete the nationwide competition that has been running since September 2016.

Winners of the Mini Scientist, Shane Leahy, Sean O’Brien, Marc O’Brien and Eoin Carey from St. Johns National School in Cratloe at the Grand Final awards ceremony at the Helix in Dublin City University

Winners of the Mini Scientist, Shane Leahy, Sean O’Brien, Marc O’Brien and Eoin Carey from St. Johns National School in Cratloe at the Grand Final awards ceremony at the Helix in Dublin City University. Pic Marc O’Sullivan

Now in its 10th year, the Intel Mini Scientist competition gives primary school pupils the chance to explore science through project based learning and exhibitions. The first phase of the programme involved children participating at local level exhibitions with judges choosing two winning projects in each. In the second phase each of these winning projects entered the regional finals which were hosted throughout December in Shannon and Leixlip.

This was another exciting year for the Mini Scientist competition with almost 5,000 students from 100 schools in 15 counties of Ireland taking part in the grand final event. In total almost 2,000 projects exhibited as part of the Mini Scientist competition with 24 top projects brought together for the grand final.

Minister for Education, Richard Bruton, attended the grand final to present the prizes to the winning projects. In the end, Cratloe were declared overall winner with a project entitled ‘Badger Victim or Villain’. This was an investigation into the behaviour and habitat of the Irish badger.

The four winning pupils from St John’s, Sean O’Brien, Marc O’Brien, Eoin Carey and Shane Leahy, explored how the myth of badgers spreading bovine TB was exposed and an alternative to culling was studied in the form of a vaccination. The students also developed a badger repellent based on their own in depth investigations.  As part of the prize for the overall winning project, St. John’s N.S will receive a grant of €1000 from Intel.

Addressing the participants, Minister Bruton said, “Science is all about asking questions about how the world around us works, asking can improve the way the world works and finding new ways to do things differently. This is a day to celebrate some of our best young people, some of the best primary schools in the country and some of the best ideas. WB Yeats said that education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire and competitions like this provide you the opportunity to light that fire”.

Intel Ireland general manager Eamonn Sinnott commented, “I really believe that supporting education is one of the most valuable, long lasting contributions that we can make to this country and we are very proud to make that contribution. We donate an average of €1.3 million to the Irish education system every year supporting initiatives right across primary, secondary, third and 4th level.

“Mini Scientist is our biggest education programs and looking around the exhibition today and feeling the energy in this room, it’s not hard to see why that is. The students here today represent the top 1% of the entire competition and that’s something of which you should all be very proud”.