This is a report from 5th class teacher, Tom Hayes, about the children’s entry to the BT Young Scientist Exhibition in the RDS.

Firstly the experience was very worthwhile.  We  think the children really benefited, and the school also benefitted by being on display to the 1000’s of people who came to the fair.

The feedback from the judges was excellent.  They said,
‘This is a really impressive scientific project, carefully planned and executed.  There is a clear question and the two main experiments (colour intensity and eye test) address the question well and give interesting results.  I was particularly impressed by the sample size (>200) and the systematic way that the experiments were organised and the data collected.  I also like the graphs – drawing them by hand and using the computer (excel) a great idea (controls – dark vs light) also good!  Great team work – well done to all teachers and students!’

This whole project was completed over a number of weeks and the Science Fair the climax.  The process involved the class deciding that they wanted to enter the competition (totally student led).  Then they decided democratically what their project would be.  Children all submitted and presented their ideas outlining what was the question they were asking and how they envisaged investigating it.  I provided them with a template (provided by the RDS Science Fair) so they could systematically analyse their projects viability and suitability.  The children decided to investigate, ‘Does eye colour affect vision?’.

The class brainstormed numerous idea to investigate this and we trialled a number of these ideas deciding which one’s were useful, useless and which ones had the most potential to gain meaningful data to analyse. They  settled on a total of 5 experiments performed under dark and light conditions (total of ten tests) and these tests were performed on every senior class in the school (as well as second).  There were over 200 children tested which equals over 2000 tests performed.  All children in the  class had various duties to perform (manning testing stations) and these were rotated frequently so all children were engaged and an expert in each of the processes.

The data was collected in tables and transferred by the children into spreadsheets using Microsoft Excel.  This data was then manipulated to form tables which was then translated into graphs (mainly bar charts).  The children also drew the bar charts.  The children then analysed the data and wrote up the experiments using MS word.  They  then collated  the data to answer he overall question, ‘Does eye colour affect vision?’.  The children created the display and a powerpoint for the Science Fair.

On the day the children  saw lots of other projects which were very inspiring and they  all had access to the BT Young Scientist Competition and all the activities and shows that were there.  The parents were of great benefit and along with the volunteers who helped on the day, many parents took time off work to visit the fair and interact with the children.  Paul Rowe, the CEO of Educate Together visited the  stand and was very impressed and grateful for all the work that the  class did and the way they  represented themselves.

A note of thanks to teacher, Grainne, who was  an absolute pleasure to work with and really helped facilitate a great day and project from start to finish.  Other teachers in the school were so supportive and without their cooperation and flexibility it would not have happened.

Here are a few pictures from the day.