Student Science Winners Motivated By TV Images of Global Conflict

Self Help AfricaClimate Change, Fundraising, News

Terrible TV images from conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza motivated two Westmeath students to develop a science project that won them a prestigious award at this year’s BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition, in Dublin.

Banana skins were the main component in wound dressings that were devised by Rachel Hamm and Ella Ryan from Moate Community School. Their project won Irish Aid sponsored ‘Science for Development Award’ at the annual student science fair. The award competition is organised annually by Self Help Africa’s Global Citizenship Education team, who give presentations and deliver workshops at schools across Ireland.

In their research, Rachel and Ella demonstrated how bandages could be made cost effectively by combining banana skin bio plastic with glycerine, lavender oil, honey and vinegar. And they showed that their dressings were environmentally friendly compared with commercial bandages that can take hundreds of years to decompose.

Additionally, changes to the colour of their bandage showed how well a patient’s injury is healing, while compounds in their dressing helped scar tissue to heal.

The winning students received their prize from Minister for International Development and Diaspora, Sean Fleming T.D., who said that their innovative project was a deserving winner of the 2024 award. The Westmeath students received a €7,000 travel bursary, which will enable them to travel with their teacher on a Self Help Africa schools study to Africa.

The ‘Science for Development Award’ is presented by the adjudicators at the BT Expo to a project that addresses a particular development challenge that affects people living in poorer countries of the world. Past winners have devised fuel-efficient cook stoves, developed methods of purifying water and preserving food, and have addressed social issues including race, religion and female menstrual health.

Alongside their travel bursary, Rachel Hamm and Ella Ryan received a newly created bronze and aluminium perpetual trophy, which was created from recycled metals by 16 year old Rathfarnham Beaufort art student Noemi Karska.

A report on the most recent schools study visit by BT Science for Development Award winners was published recently in The Irish Times newspaper here.

Find out more about Self Help Africa’s Irish Aid sponsored Science for Development Award and wider Global Citizenship Programme here.