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Irish girls win top Science Award in California

Three students from Ireland have been recognised for their achievements and awarded the top prize at the Google Science Fair in California.

Sophie Healy Thow, 17, and Ciara Judge and Émer Hickey, both 16, have been studying the potential benefits of fertilising crops with naturally forming bacteria.

Irish girls win top Science Award in California
The three girls combined their love of gardening with their scientific flair, and produced a study that could provide valuable findings for the future. They hope their work could be the platform for a large shift in the world’s approach to agriculture, and help tackle the food crisis in Africa.

As part of their experiment, they added a natural bacteria called diazotroph to cereal crops in controlled conditions. They found that it reduced the time it took the seeds to germinate by as much as 50%, and increased the yields by up to 70% in certain crops.

The girls have been praised by scientists and agricultural experts around the world, with a common belief that their discoveries could prove to be a major step forward in commercial farming.

Sophie, Ciara and Émer have thankfully produced a short video explaining their experiment in simple terms.

The trio are students at Kinsale Community School in Cork. They were invited to attend the Google Science Fair in California to receive their award, and will now get to go on a 10-day trip to the Galapagos Islands with National Geographic Expeditions.

The prize also includes a visit to the Virgin Galactic Spaceport and a Google sponsorship for their further education.

The girls won this latest award after beating off competition from more than 5,000 different entrants from more than 90 countries.

They have had a hugely successful couple of years. They won the BT Young Scientist title in January 2013 before also landing a trip to the Czech Republic and €7,000 top prize in the EU Young Scientist competition.

Watch the trio’s YouTube video, in which they explain exactly what their experiment involved.

Written by Andrew Moore

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