TIMAHOE NS student Aisling Ramsbottom was the toast of her school as she returned from the Intel Mini Scientist national finals with the overall runner-up prize.
The talented 12-year-old wowed nine sets of judges throughout the day in the Aula Maxima at Maynooth University to bring home the much coveted award.
Aisling qualified for the national finals with her ‘Moo Moo Mower’ project from the regional finals held at Blanchardstown IT last December.
Explaining her groundbreaking invention, Aisling says: “My aim was to create a robotic mower for dairy farmers. I came up with the idea because I know that dairy farmers are very particular about their grass and that it takes a lot of time and money to top the paddocks every week. Topping the grass to 5cm is the optimal length for grass growth and milk productivity, so I thought that a robotic mower would help to achieve this, saving farmers time and money.”
When her dad James got an auto mower last year, Aisling asked him if there was one available for agriculture. He said there wasn’t one on the market so she thought it would be good for farmers and the environment if one was developed.
Like all successful scientists, Aisling adhered to a staged approach. She began by establishing the need for her product through research and surveys. She went on to research and investigate the workings of similar products already on the domestic non-agricultural market. She found the Husqvarna auto mower and the Nissan Leaf to be particularly relevant. Then she established design criteria, prepared preliminary designs and built a Frankenstein Model.
With a view to having her Frankenstein Model turned into a prototype, Aisling met Clodagh Cavanagh, the CEO of Abbey Machinery. The Intel judges were particularly impressed with this.
Aisling’s wonderful backdrop and display also came in for huge attention and praise at the Maynooth exhibition. Supporting Aisling at the event were her teachers Michael McEvoy and Martina Mulhall, her parents James and Liz and her siblings Seamus, Grainne, Niamh and Tomás.
The latest win continues the extraordinary run of success that Timahoe NS has enjoyed in the competition. Over the last six years, it has picked up a national award at every final – all-Ireland runner-up 2018 and 2019, highly commended in 2017 and back-to-back all-Ireland winners in 2016 and 2015.
Now in its 13th year, the Intel Mini Scientist competition gives young students the chance to explore science through project-based learning and exhibitions.
The first phase of the programme involved more than 8,000 students participating at exhibitions in their own schools, which are visited by Intel employees, who judge the first round of exhibitions and select a winning project from each school to go forward to a regional final. Only 20 projects qualify for the national finals.