Students from Castleknock College who designed an innovative safety vest have been announced overall winners of the ABP Farm Safety category at the 2022 BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition.

Conor McGuirk and Bogdan Iliescu’s project, supervised by science teacher, Siobhán David, tested the strengths and limitations of ‘non-Newtonian fluids’.

What are non-Newtonian fluids?
When subjected to a rapidly applied force, non-Newtonian fluids solidify and can form a harder, protective substance.

As part of their project, the students designed a protective vest using the non-Newtonian fluid, oobleck.

Did you know?
Oobleck is a soft substance that can mimic properties of a solid. It takes its name from the Dr. Seuss book, Bartholomew and the Oobleck.

Contribution to farm safety

In 2021, nine people in the farming sector were killed in work-related accidents according to the Health and Safety Authority, accounting for approximately 24% of all Irish workplace-related deaths during the year.

As farms are one of the primary sources of workplace accidents in Ireland, the students believe their project, and the resulting protective vest, can be very beneficial in the area of farm safety.

One important use, for example, is that it the vest could help to protect farmers in the event that they are kicked by an animal.

In its normal state, the protective vest would have the weight and feel of a slightly padded jacket or bodywarmer but any sudden impact will cause the fluid inside the garment to harden, protecting the person’s body.

Commenting, Kevin Cahill, managing director of ABP Ireland congratulated the students on their innovative project, which he said has “deservedly been recognised with this year’s ABP Farm Safety Award”.

“I would like to thank all of the entrants who put forward projects this year. It has been truly inspiring to witness some of this year’s amazing entries and the different innovative solutions to deal with the ongoing issue of farm safety.”

For the eighth consecutive year, ABP Food Group has sponsored the Farm Safety category, which year-on-year has produced ground-breaking projects from students across the country.