It was a case of prizes galore for St Mary’s College at the BT Young Scientist competition at the weekend.
Held in Dublin’s RDS, St Mary’s won four student project prizes and the Matrix Overall Best School in Northern Ireland award. Science teacher Ann Blanking also scooped the Intel Educator of Excellence accolade.
Speaking to the Journal, school principal Mrs Marie Lindsay said she was “absolutely delighted” about the success of Mrs Blanking, her pupils and the school.
Mrs Lindsay said: “Mrs Blanking definitely deserved the Intel Educator of Excellence award. She has been involved with the Young Scientist competition for the past ten years and her after-school chemistry club is one of the most over-subscribed clubs St. Mary’s has. Ann is an amazing woman who is completely in her element inspiring her young charges.
“Mrs Gay Durkan, chairperson of our Board of Governors, Mr Goddard from our Science Department and I were lucky enough to accompany 30 Year 10s from St Mary’s and three Foyle pupils to the RDS on Friday. There was a wonderful buzz and sense of pride among the students, families and educators who were perusing the stands.”
Year 10 pupil Lavina Blanking kicked off St Mary’s successful run, gaining second place in the Individual Junior, Biological and Ecological Sciences category and a Special Award from the Irish Medicines Board.
Her project, A spoonful of medicine, concerned the accuracy of using spoons from the cutlery drawer in measuring 5ml doses of liquid medication - and the possible harmful consequences.
Saoirse Nash was next on to the podium, receiving the runner’s up prize in the Individual Intermediate, Chemical, Physical and Mathematical Sciences category. Saoirse’s project centred around the development and evaluation of a handy indicator for Simvastatin and Ramipril.
Adel Cullen, Cara Molloy and Megan McClean then discovered that they had been Highly Commended in the Intermediate Group, Chemical, Physical and Mathematical Sciences category. Their project concerned the development and evaluation of a coffee-based sunscreen preparation.
Had to lie down!
Chemistry teacher Ann Blanking, who accompanied the St Mary’s young scientists to Dublin, along with past pupil, Nicole Lynch, said she was so “shocked” by all the wins on Saturday night, she had to go back to the hotel to lie down.
She said: “This has been a brilliant weekend. I am over the moon. There were two prizes for teachers and I did not expect to win anything. I am also thrilled for the girls; we had seven projects exhibiting and three of them won prizes. I am beyond pleased.
“All of the projects came out of the after-school chemistry club, where I love encouraging and nurturing an interest in science. Our past members have gone on to careers in teaching, forensics, law and health related fields.”
Mrs Blanking remained tight-lipped about who she was going to take along on her trip to the Intel Educators Academy in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - one of her prizes for the Intel Educator of Excellence award.
Mrs Marie Lindsay concluded: “St Mary’s College has been a Specialist School for Science since 2006. We are happy to be doing Derry proud and breaking traditional norms as regards careers in the city.”