Our BT Young Scientists Project 2024

We were thrilled when our project was selected for the BT Young Scientists Primary Science Fair in the RDS. We are going to Dublin this Thursday 11th January and are looking forward to this fantastic event.

This year our science question is Why are hedgerows important for biodiversity and agriculture?

Our prediction is We think they provide a safe place for animals to live. 

But is that it? We decided to focus on hedgerows for our BT Young Scientists project to find out.

Firstly we predicted how much hedgerows we have in Ireland. Tom got the closest estimate at 900,000km. From the Teagasc website we learned that there are 689,000km of hedges in this country. Next we thought about how hedgerows are measured. We all thought, discussed and gave reasons for how this could be achieved. Many of our pupils mentioned satellites and drones. This was very clever. Hedgerows are indeed measured using both satellites and drones as well as laser scanning and geographic information systems. We watched four videos to find our more about each one.Teagasc logo

We completed a one-day workshop with Martin Curley from Heritage in Schools on the formation and types of hedgerows. We learned that hedgerows have a top, a middle and a bottom. The trees make up the top section, bushes and walls are found in the middle, while plants and animals are located at the bottom. We walked around our own local area and explored the types of hedgerows that can be found. Martin gave us a brilliant worksheet with the names of trees, shrubs and plants on it. This was a great help in recognising and naming different species. He also used an app on his phone. When we returned to school we designed and drew our own ideal hedgerow, The children did a fantastic job.



Why are hedgerows so important?

Birds workshop with Owen Murphy

Owen Murphy came to our school and taught us how to recognise birdsong. It was a very interesting workshop and we got loads from it. Owen was impressed at how we could recognise birds from their song and he reckoned we had a very musical classroom! Most of the birds Owen talked to us about live in hedgerows. Thanks sincerely to Owen for coming. He’ll be back to us again soon hopefully.




Bee workshop with beekeeper Joe Connaughton

We had a great time learning about bees with Joe. He even brought in his beehive to show us and we tasted honey from his bees. It was thoroughly enjoyable. Hedgerows are important for bees as they provide food and shelter for them.




Bats & hedgehogs

Bats – at Halloween we learned about bats. We learned that they often feed in hedges and on farmlands. They love to eat midges, flies and small moths. This is very beneficial for us. For example, a bat can consume up to 3,000 midges in one night, reducing the need for pesticides. We explored how to draw a bat during an art lesson.

During Science Week we learned about hedgehogs. We learned that they have 5000 spines, they can form a ball to protect themselves against predators, they are nocturnal, they can’t see very well, they are shy creatures and like being on their own, they can get sick often and they get stressed, they like to eat worms, caterpillars and plants.

Finally we learned that: Hedges create the perfect safe spaces for hedgehogs as they are thick and sheltered, meaning these animals are protected from predators like badgers. Hedgerows also create green corridors for hedgehogs to move along safely and provide a great supply of food – the perfect place to set up a nest! A hedgehog nestled amongst leaves.

We created our own little hedgehogs which we will add to our model of the hedgerow.


Butterflies – during a science lesson we investigated the butterfly. We learned that butterflies are pollinators which is very important for nature. Butterflies are a sign of a healthy environment and a thriving ecosystem. We were amazed at how strong butterflies are and how far they can fly thousands of miles and rise up several kilometres into the sky. There are 35 species of butterflies in Ireland – 23 of these breed on hedges. We created a lovely classroom collage of butterflies during art.

During English we were focusing on Explanation Writing in November and we wrote about the Life-cycle of a butterfly and a frog.

Food from hedges. Many animals and birds get their food from hedgerows, for example insects, earthworms and berries.  We also get food from hedgerows. We have a bramble bush growing at the front of our school which give us lovely blackberries in the autumn.

The oxygen-carbon dioxide cycle involving hedgerows

During Science week we learned about photosynthesis. We learned that plants, hedges and trees take in sunlight and water, and they generate oxygen and glucose (food for the plant) in their leaves. We explored the oxygen-carbon dioxide cycle and we discussed how important plants, trees and hedges are for our environment. The plants make oxygen for us to breath in and they take in carbon dioxide which we breath out. We recorded our findings in a diagram.

We also completed a Science Experiment to prove that plants need water and light to grow healthily. We planted cress seeds in 4 pots. Pot 1 was given water and light, pot 2 was given water but no light, pot 3 was given no water and no light and pot 4 was given light but no water. We predicted that pot 1 would grow green leaves and produce food (because plants need light and water). We look forward to seeing how our cress seeds get on!

Our findings are pictured below. You can see that as predicted, pot 1 was successful. Photosynthesis occurred in that pot only as it had water and light.

Protect water quality  – We learned about water quality and how some countries do no have access to clean drinking water. We completed an experiment on Water Filtration. In groups, we made our own water filters using empty plastic bottles and a coffee filter. We added soil to a sample of water and then poured it through our filter. We were amazed at how clean the water was again. We repeated this experiment using 2 filters and then finally using 3 filters. We noticed that the water moved more slowly through the filters each time and that the water was even cleaner as we went along. The thicker the filter, the more soil it removed from the water.

From the Teagasc Website we learned that : When soil is saturated and rain can’t soak in, sediment and nutrients are washed
off land through overland flow into open drains
and rivers, causing major issues for water quality. A well-placed hedge acts as a barrier, slowing the flow of water over land, reducing the force of overland flow. It filters sediment and mops up nutrients as it intercepts the flow. In other words, it acts like our filters did today during our experiments.

Hedges on farms and hedge for shelter

Many of our pupils live on or beside farms. We researched, discussed and explored the use of hedgerows on farms. We explored our local area to support our findings.

We learned that hedgerows act as a barrier at the edges of the farmer’s fields to prevent soil from being lost

They help farmers reduce the impact that direct rainfall has on the land

Hedges are used to keep cows in the field or to mark land boundaries

They provide a habitat for insects, pollinators, birds and small mammals

They provide shelter for cows from wind, rain and snow, and shade from summer sun

Heritage – We linked in with our History Curriculum and learned about Hedge schools during the Penal Laws in Ireland.

Our model of a hedgerow – we created this model using recycled materials, plants and leaves from our school grounds.