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Lisa scores second highest result in Ireland

Congratulations from all in Scoil Mhuire to Lisa Finn who scored the second-highest mark in the country for Leaving Certificate Technology, Higher Level in the 2019 examinations. Congratulation also to Mr Crotty who taught Lisa and has produced the top student in both Junior and Leaving Certificate in recent years. The following is an interview with Lisa about her experience of studying the subject of Technology.

Lisa Finn

An interview with Lisa Finn.

What appealed to me about the subject technology?

I must admit before the first year I had zero interest in the subject technology. I was there to ‘get through’ the compulsory taster session. Then, as soon as I could, get back to the subjects which I thought were “more suitable” for me. To go from this mindset to studying the subject for my entire six years to school is a great testament to both the subject and teacher.

There is great freedom in the subject technology, making it completely unique from every other subject in our education system. It provides its students with an open broad design brief, giving each of us scope to carry it in our own unique direction. It’s very interesting to see your peers different approaches to the same brief. Technology is a very modern subject and its syllabus is constantly changing to remain that way. This allows you to draw inspiration for the latest concepts and discoveries, keeping every option open to you. Technology is boundless. If you can think of it, you can make it. I tried testing its limits just to see how far it could go and never found a boundary. The technology classroom provides a creative learning environment. Talking through and communicating your design ideas and issues with your peers is encouraged and not frowned upon, as would be in the traditional classroom.

What really intrigued me about technology is that it amalgamated the worlds of both creativity and logistics, which other subjects keep separate at all costs. Technology allows your imagination to create the most wonderful and unique devices and THEN enables you to physically build it and see your own idea work in real life. I always found my time in the technology classroom as a break in my school day, not because I would go in, sit down, and twiddle my thumbs but because technology gives you the opportunity to make your daydream into a reality.

Technology is a great confidence builder. When I entered technology, I had no prior exposure to its concepts or its machinery. Slowly I began to grasp the methods behind electronics, programming and CAD which were once to me foreign and intimidating. Starting from ground zero is never easy but it does give you the opportunity to clearly map your progression through the years and see your achievements. Technology teaches you how to deal with and overcome the obstacles that emerge during the design and building phase of your project. As you work around these obstacles your confidence and ability increase at every hurdle.

Technology attracted me at senior cycle as it instils a vital set of life skills, giving great preparation for third level education and beyond. As technology is an ever-evolving subject there is a major emphasis placed on research and experience-based learning as opposed to being handed a block of information to learn verbatim. It develops the skills of critical thinking, collaborative learning, decision making, problem-solving and time management from a very early stage. The huge proportion of the marks for the project drives you to quickly acquire the skills of self-motivation, self-direction, commitment and perseverance to remain focused and achieve your long term goal.
Without a doubt, I would not be where I am today had I not studied technology.

What was my inspiration for my Leaving Certificate Wellbeing project?

The area of wellbeing is very broad and condensing it down to one idea was a difficult task. During my research the area of breathing was always mentioned, and it interested me greatly.
I was skyping my brother and told him about my project and interest in the area of breathing and relaxation. He told me of an event which happened as he was leading a group rafting. A member of the group had an abnormal heartbeat and as she became stressed and anxious while rafting , her heart rate began to soar, she began to hyperventilate and lose consciousness. Patrick, my brother, approached her and began to calm her down by guiding her through slow long deep breaths. Within a few minutes her heart rate returned to normal and she remained conscious and completed the trip.

This event interested me greatly , and I decided to watch ‘TED talks’ videos on how we can use breathing to trick our minds. The chemicals in our brain and our heart rate are part of our subconscious system. We cannot directly control what chemicals are released in our brain. We cannot directly reduce our heart rate.

However, through breathing we can gain control over these subconscious systems. We can lead our brain to believe that we are no longer in a stressful situation. When we regulate our breathing, we can trick our brain chemistry to relax and our heart beat to slow down. The slow breathing rate and the increase in blood oxygen that slow breathing creates signals the brain to release GABA! GABA, in turn, inhibits the release of cortisol( the bodies built in alarm system) and adrenaline, allowing your body-mind to finally slow down, rest, digest and repair itself. GABA (gamma amino butyric acid) is the body’s own tranquiliser.
In conclusion, we can trick our body into doing what we want by controlling our breathing.

In a world where everything is so automated, I feel we have lost our ability to manually control ourselves. Modern lifestyles continuously create excitement and anxiety. They generate stress and result in shallow fast breathing. This stress can have detrimental effects to one’s mental and physical health and so the minimising of stress in the body is imperative. I felt that this project would be all encompassing. There isn’t one person out there that hasn’t been stressed or anxious at some stage in their lives. I thought that with one simple device I would be able to help a huge amount of people. At the very least promote awareness of the power of breathing to remove the stress from a ‘stressful situation’ and enable the person to perform to the best of their ability, reaching their potential.
“a long breath establishes a calm mind. A calm mind is the foundation for everything great.”– Yogini Kaliji

This provided the base for my project.

Where and what course am I studying presently?

Undominated Engineering, National University of Ireland Galway.

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