BT Young Scientist

BTwsBT Young Scientist Competition.

The Transition Year class all entered this years BT Young Scientist Competition under the guidance of their teacher Ms. Noone. Out of all our entries Mark Mulleady and Jack Kelly’s project was selected for the exhibition which was held in the RDS, Dublin in January. Mark and Jack found this to be a great experience. The class traveled to the RDS to see all the projects that reached this stage.


Mark and Jack’s project was titled “The Most Effective Way of Irradiating Ragwort”

Below is a summary of their project written by the boys themselves.

Summary Of The Experiment

In this experiment we are finding cheap and efficient way to kill the ragwort plant. This is because it causes farmers a lot of problems and causes them to lose lot of time trying to get rid of this plant. It causes hay and silage quantities from fields to be decreased because a farmer would not be able to sell or be able to use hay that there was ragwort in. So to avoid this, a farmer would have to either pull up the ragwort plant or avoid baling the area that the ragwort was in. This means that farmers who would make hay or silage would not be able to use or sell all the hay or silage and would have to discard some of it away.

There have been rare cases of animals dying from ingesting this plant. Animals don’t die unless they have consumed to a large amount of ragwort. It is found that the amount lies between 5 % and 25% of body weight for horses and cattle to be fully poisoned. For goats the figure is much higher. It is between 125% and 404% of their body weight.

There are not accurate numbers in Ireland for horses’ mortality from ragwort. The UK government figures for 2005 show a total number of 13 deaths for horses and there were 10 deaths between 2005 and 2010.

One method of killing Ragwort is using a chemical. This is the least common way to kill ragwort but is the most effective. The reason why it is the least common is because the chemicals are very expensive. So we thought of investigating a cheaper way we could kill this plant using everyday liquids and herbicides.

In our experiment we have planted 200 ragwort seeds, however only 40 of the seeds germinated.

As germination was poor we also gathered twenty five 1 year old ragwort rosettes and planted them in 5 trays with compost. Later we treated them with our chemicals.

We decided that our rosettes and seedlings died when the leaves went brown in colour and the leaves were very brittle. The ethanol and vinegar rosettes died first, followed then by the Round-up rosettes and then by the rosettes that were treated by boiling water.

The rosettes that were treated by ethanol and vinegar died four days after we began treating them. When we finished our experiment nine days after we began and when we finished the ethanol and vinegar rosettes were rotting in the compost.

The rosettes that were treated by Round up daily died seven days after we began applying our liquids. The Boiling water rosettes died eight days after we began applying our liquids. They were a little brown and they were very brittle and weak.

The Experience

Overall the experience was great we had lots of fun at the evening entertainments. Like discos, a table quiz and a karaoke night. It was also great to see all the different amusements during the day including: Titan the robot, a biology show “It takes guts” and robot wars. Overall it was a brilliant experience up in BT. Educationally as well as Entertainingly.