Young Longford Scientists impress at BT awards

The future scientists of County Longford put their talents on show at the recent BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition which took place earlier this month at the RDS in Dublin.


The future scientists of County Longford put their talents on show at the recent BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition which took place earlier this month at the RDS in Dublin.


Students from Mercy Secondary School Ballymahon, St Mel’s College, Ballinalee’s Scoil Samhthann National School and Lanesboro Community College travelled to the capital with their respective projects hoping to impress a panel of expert judges.

Students from Mercy Secondary School in Ballymahon entered the exhibition with their project entitled ‘To determine the levels of electromagnetic and microwave radiation in Ballymahon’. Receiving a ‘Highly Recommended’ award from the expert judges, the group were subsequently invited to take part in the upcoming ECO UNESCO Young Environmentalist Awards next month. They also received an invitation to Trinity College’s Science Gallery in recognition of their stellar work.

The aim of the project was to create a badge which could detect the presence of a mobile phone. Originally, students took measurements around the school, in their homes and around Ballymahon with a magnetic field sensor to compare levels to those of the World Health Organisation’s recommended levels. It transpired that the levels of electromagnetic activity around the south Longford town were below these safety levels so the group moved on to microwaves.

The students then undertook a survey concerning mobile phone usage and how they use microwaves to communicate with each other. The group found that 70% of Transition Year students in Ballymahon never turned off their mobile phones, while 35% of those surveyed kept their phones under their pillows at night time.

The students, under the watchful eye of their mentor and Science Lecturer Terry O’Rourke, then constructed a small device which can detect any switched on mobile phone in the area.

The Ballymahon team’s eventual aim is to produce a commercial device which can be utilised in planes and in cinemas to alert staff to mobile phone activity.