Event 'bedrock' of smart economy, says Tánaiste

Micheal Healy and Nial McCormick from St Gerard's College, Mayo, demonstrate their project on water turbidity at the 2010 BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition.

Micheal Healy and Nial McCormick from St Gerard's College, Mayo, demonstrate their project on water turbidity at the 2010 BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition.

Thu, Jan 14, 2010, 00:00

SMOKE, LIGHTS, aerial artists and high-quality rock music heralded the launch of the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibitionat the RDS in Dublin. The 1,100-plus student participants in attendance roared and stomped their approval as the 46th exhibition formally got under way.

The students were packed into the BT Arena where yesterday’s opening and tomorrow’s award ceremonies will take place. Exhibition presenters veteran Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin and newcomer Aidan Power helped warm up the crowd, although it was not necessary given the enthusiasm flowing.

Dundalk rock band Curtain Thieves played a set before an aerial act from Fossett’s Circus took the stage, both giving impressive performances. BMX display riders Team Extreme then seemed to defy gravity as they spun across the stage, after which last year’s young scientists of 2009, John D O’Callaghan and Liam McCarthy accepted the generous cheers and applause, remembering their RDS win but also coming first in the European Young Scientist Competition last autumn.

Tánaiste Mary Coughlan officially launched this year’s event.

She expressed her delight at being asked to open the exhibition, saying, “Science can be a bit of fun. It is so creative and opens so many doors. You are the innovators, you are the creators and I wish you all well. Believe in yourselves, you have the ability.”

She was introduced by BT chief executive officer Chris Clark who congratulated the students on making it to the RDS despite the difficult weather. Ireland’s future would be based on science and innovation, he added.

Speaking after the launch, the Tánaiste said the event “absolutely is a bedrock” for the Government’s knowledge economy drive.

Her views were echoed by Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin who visited the exhibition late yesterday afternoon. He viewed the exhibition’s contribution to Ireland and a knowledge economy as “incalculable”. He had been attending it since 1997: “These young students will be the innovators of the future.”

Judging of student projects began yesterday afternoon and continues throughout today. Final judging takes place tomorrow morning and the top four prizes and hundreds of category and display awards will be announced on Friday evening.

The parallel Primary science fair gets under way this morning, sponsored by the RDS. It has been significantly expanded and will see pupils from 100 schools displaying today and on Friday and Saturday.

The daily shows will continue, including performances by Belfast’s W5, Team Extreme and a show called Bending It Like Beckhamexplaining why footballer David Beckham is a “scientific genius”. The popular Robot Wars will also be on hand and a 3D show revealing the beauty of the cosmos, Celestial Extravaganza.

The exhibition opens this afternoon and remains until Saturday. Tickets cost €12 for an adult and €6 for a student or concession. Family tickets admitting two adults and three children are also available for €25.