herald

Thursday 23 November 2017

The appliance of science to smiles, pens and pop . . .

NAMES, smiles, hair, food, walks and even the grip of your pen. Everything was up for scrutiny at the BT Young Scientist Competition today with more than 3,800 students battling for the title.

The exhibition at Dublin's RDS has received the most entries in its 48-year history. It is open to the public today and tomorrow and the overall winner, who will receive a cheque for €5,000, will be announced tomorrow.

Among the competitors are three young Dublin students who have discovered that the grip of a pen can reveal personality types.

Angry people have a firmer, heavier grip on the pen than more placid individuals, according to students Paulina Sobierajska (14), Pelumi Duramola (12) and Dammy Olanie (12) from Balbriggan Community College.

And they said both handwriting styles and the type of pen grip can alter depending on a person's mood.

With the aid of their teachers Tom O'Donoghue and Kevin Curran the girls discovered that a lot of messages can be picked up from observing pen grips.



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"Before we started this project, we didn't know which grip was the best. We thought the common grip would be the best one but we were so surprised to find out that that's not it.

"We've given people personality tests and we found that a person can have two different handwriting styles, it depends on their mood."

The competition also incudes a study into how pop music is a better solution to a sleepless night than classical. After putting the musical genres to the test, three students have challenged that long held belief that classical music is the most relaxing.

Emily Cronin (16), Sophie Monks O'Byrne (15) and Ella Clifton (16) used an iPhone sleep app to monitor sleep patterns and investigate the effects different genres of music had on their sleep patterns.

They took four music styles -- pop, rock, classical and RnB -- and made a three-hour playlist to listen to while they were sleeping, with their sleep app monitoring the effects.

Ella explained: "We all had iPhones and we had used the 'sleep cycle' app before because it records how well you sleep. You put it under your pillow and in the morning it'll tell you how well you've slept.

"To analyse it we used a graph to see the different patterns of when we went from awake to sleeping to deep sleeping, and we counted how long for each stage."

To their surprise, classical music did not give them a fulfiling night's sleep, but instead pop songs served as their perfect lullabies.

"It turned out that we all slept best while listening to pop music. Most of our favourite music is pop music and I think we were concentrating on the lyrics because they were commonly known. Our minds were at rest more than with any other genre," said Sophie.

"People say that cows milk better and babies sleep better when they're listening to classical music but during our project we found that pop music was best for us. We were most surprised by the effect classical had on us."

A group of students found the secret to the success of celebs like Cheryl Cole and Beyonce may be in their smiles.

A study of smiley happy people has discovered that our grin may tell a lot more than previously realised. But don't think about faking it because people will know.

Claire Bulman (15), Anna Rose O'Brien (16) and Gemma Seery (16) from Dominican College, Drumcondra were at the Young Scientist Exhibition yesterday for their project Smile Like You Mean It.

The girls pointed out that it's proven that an authentic smile looks different to a fake one by the movement of facial muscles, and for the length of time it lasts.

hnews@herald.ie

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