Congratulations have been flooding in this week to the three Irish schoolgirls who won the top prize in this year’s Google Science Fair. Ciara Judge (16), Emer Hickey (16) and Sophie Healy-Thow (16) from Kinsale Community School in County Cork walked away with the top prize among 18 finalists that were selected from over 5,000 entries in 90 different countries.
Their research project, titled “Combating the Global Food Crisis: Diazotroph bacteria as a cereal crop growth promoter” examined the effects of diazotroph bacteria as a cereal crop germination and growth aid. They found that the seeds treated with a strain of root microbes called Rhizobium bacteria accelerated germination by 50 percent when compared to untreated seeds and that by harvest the microbes increased barley and oats yields by as much as 70 percent. The findings not only have the potential to address food poverty, but could also reduce agriculture’s environmental footprint by reducing the use of fertiliser.
Their prize for winning is a €30,000 scholarship from Google, a visit to the Virgin Galactic Spaceport in New Mexico, and a National Geographic field study trip to the Galapagos Islands.
I think we can all agree that it is a fantastic achievement. Well done.
Watch the girls here:
To see the project:
For more on this story see:
For more on the relationship between bacteria and agriculture, see National Geographic’s “Why tine microbes mean big things for farming.”