Talented Derry student 'monopolises' a cool £20,000 to bring inventions to life

 Ava during the filming of the Ms Monopoly advertisement in Derry.

Ava during the filming of the Ms Monopoly advertisement in Derry.

A Derry schoolgirl has been recognised as one of the brightest young inventors in the world and appeared in an advertisement for the newly released board game Ms Monopoly.
Hasbro, the game’s manufacturers, have made the game to celebrate female inventors and aspiring young entrepreneurs around the world.
One of three specially chosen to take part in an advertisement is a gifted teenager from the city.
Ava Canney is a fifth-year pupil at St. Mary’s College in Derry where she is currently studying for her GCSEs.
Speaking to the Derry News this week, Ava shared the details of her remarkable ascent in the fields of science and technology.
At primary school she had more of an interest in English, law and drama. But when Ava arrived at St. Mary’s, teachers encouraged students to study STEM subjects and to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Ava commented: “I realised how technology was the future and is changing the world so I got involved in my chemistry club. Through that I was able to go to competitions each year where I won prizes and got to know so many people who were developing projects that are changing the world.
“The science teachers at St. Mary’s have definitely pushed me along the way, they’re so enthusiastic and help me in whatever way they can.”
She attends competitions each year such as SciFest, BT Young Scientist in Dublin, the Big Bang in Birmingham and also travelled to Pittsburgh for the Broadcom MASTERS after being selected as one of the top 25 brightest minds in the world.
The 16-year-old has created her own homemade spectrophotometer, an invention that detects the amount of harmful dyes in soft drinks and sweets.
“My spectrophotometer could actually test how much synthetic dye was in soft drinks and sweets. Energy drinks don’t actually say how much dye is in them, and when I was testing the concentration it was very high.
“These dyes cause things such as ADHD and cancer because of the benzene and yellow dye. I thought if there’s more of this in energy drinks then I’ll find out how much if the companies aren’t going to advertise it.
“I used the same device for another application, to test medications for the amount of active ingredients present. Medications are being sold online which don’t actually have the correct active ingredient but instead contain things like rat poison which makes them extremely dangerous.
“By testing them you can make sure they’re safe and helping people as advertised.”
It’s Ava’s intention to expand the parameters of its application to include tests for diabetes and water quality which would allow this invention to be utilised in third world countries and medical practices.



One of Ava’s science teachers nominated her for the Ms Monopoly advertisement. Hasbro expressed an interest in Ava’s project and were invested in her personal story.
The 16-year-old was eventually chosen as one of three individuals around the world to be the face of Ms Monopoly. Hasbro then sent representatives to Ireland to film the advertisement a few weeks ago.
Filming took place in a number of locations in Derry and a longer version of this will be aired shortly on the company’s website.
In the advertisement Ava says: “Back in the old days women were in the kitchen and looked pretty on the stage but now women and girls are building things so I thought why not be the change that I want to see in the world.”
Each of the young women can be seen unwrapping the first edition of the Ms Monopoly board game with their parents, however, unlike the original game theirs comes with £20,580 in real money to help them bring their inventions to life. It wasn’t rehearsed and captures their genuine surprise.


“It was such a shock when I got the email that I was one of three people chosen from millions interviewed around the world.
“On the day of filming we had no idea about the huge amount of money I was going to get. They sat us down in the living room and we were all absolutely spellbound by this huge amount of money,” she said.
A message inside finishes by saying, “Go girl, be who you are, and bring this world some change.”
It is Ava’s intention to follow that advice by taking the science and technology route at A-level and applying for a scholarship at one of the Ivy League universities in the United States.

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