A Derry school has enjoyed great success at a major science competition.
St Mary’s College pupils and sisters, Eadaoin and Aoife Nash scooped a first prize, special award and high commendation at the 50th BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition in Dublin at the weekend.
Eadaoin won a first prize in the Junior Individual Award and also took the Eli Lilly Special Award with her project, ‘A comparative study of the antioxidant effects of natural and synthetic food preservatives’ in the Chemical, Physical and Mathematical Sciences category.
Aoife Nash, her big sister, also received a high commendation for her project ‘Don’t muddy the waters’ which was entered into the Chemical, Physical and Mathematical Sciences category.
The girls beat off stiff competition from 28 Northern Ireland finalists to win the awards. 
Ann Blanking, St Mary’s College Science teacher, paid tribute to all the pupils who took part.
“We are delighted to receive all of the awards and once again the exhibition has proven to be a wonderful experience for our pupils who have found it immensely rewarding and interesting,” she said.
“The exhibition is a great way to encourage young people to get involved in STEM subjects and provides a platform to showcase our scientific skills.
“I love encouraging and nurturing an interest in science in an enjoyable way and we are thrilled that the students were recognised for their hard work in creating some really interesting and innovative projects.”
SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan, who attended the Dublin event, said he was delighted with the local school’s success.
“I was not only impressed with the calibre of their projects but the passion with which they explained them.  I wasn’t just impressed, I was educated. 
“I was taken aback by the breadth, reach and potential application of the 8 projects – which were not only directly relevant to things in our homes but also in developing countries. 
“The students from St Mary’s were not just a credit to their school and their families – they were also great ambassadors for Derry.”
Education Minister John O’Dowd also praised all the young people who took part in the competition.
“All students who made it to the finals should be proud of their achievements. For those who have made it this far, this week’s exhibition is the culmination of many months of hard work at home and in school.
“I was impressed with the standard of entries and enjoyed meeting and chatting with pupils from local schools. The enthusiasm they showed in their work was evident and is an encouraging sign as we seek to attract more young people to study STEM subjects.”

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