Vox Pop: Meet the young scientists at this year’s exhibition

Students welcome increased participation by girls as schools ‘move with the times’

Almost 1,150 student exhibitors are displaying 550 projects at the RDS in Dublin this week for the 2017 BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition.


Project: An analysis of friendship experiences at the 2016 BT Young Scientist and Technology Competition, by Laura Cotter (16) and Kate Cronin (17) from Colaiste Muire, Crosshaven, Co Cork

Laura Cotter: “I hope to go into some type of science field when I grow up. I find it so interesting to see how people interact and react to things. I love questioning things. If I have a question, I have to find the answer, and that often will bring more questions.”

Kate Cronin: “I’m very interested in the research of science. You need drive. People will respect you more when they see that you’re motivated and passionate about what you’re doing. In general, we’re quite curious about why things are the way they are.”

Project: An investigation into the difference in political knowledge and interest of 16-year-olds versus 18-year-olds with a view to reducing the voting age, by Grace O’Neill (16), Ciara Davis (15), and Sophie Harte (15) from Loreto Secondary School, Co Kilkenny

Grace O’Neill (16): “We got the idea from Clare Daly’s move to lower the voting age. We’re all politically interested and we thought this was an important social issue. All decisions are made on behalf of 16-year-olds so we feel they should be allowed to vote.

“Doing surveys, talking to people and finding out stuff is really interesting so I could more see myself getting into the social sciences when I’m older rather than traditional science.”

A scientific investigation of the cures and folkways of the Irish Traveller, by Ian McDonagh (15) from Merlin College, Co Galway

“If you’ve an interest in something, look at it in a scientific way because you’ll find out more. You’ll see all different angles. Scientists kill each other sometimes because they’re all finding out different things. We’re not all right.

“Travelling people should get ethnic-minority status. They have their own language and culture. People should never be told they will go nowhere. It’s disgusting. Everyone should be entitled to the same education no matter what society they come from.”

Project: An investigation into how the impact force of rain onto a service can be converted into energy, by Alison Kilbridge (16), Edel Kelleher (15), and Alannah Browne (16) from Laurel Hill Secondary School, Co Limerick

Alison Kilbridge (16): “There are more girls here this year and that shows that girls are just as good as lads. We’re moving with the times. All-boys schools tend to have engineering classes while all-girl schools tend to have home economic classes. Our school doesn’t do that, but that would be one of the obstacles for girls.”

Project: Using banana peel for eco-friendly and low cost nylon production, by Haritha Olaganathan (13) from Adamstown Community College, Dublin

“I’ve always been into global warming prevention. When I was younger I wouldn’t let my mom leave the lights on or turn on the washing machine until it was full.

“Often I’m not able to relate to people because people don’t think this is a girly thing and I shouldn’t be doing stuff like this, but at the end of the day I have dreams and I want to achieve them no matter what anyone else says.”

Project: A non-electric fridge for the developing world made from waste materials to preserve food and medicines using naturally compressed air, by Ciaran Nyhan (16), James Campbell (16) and Cian Ryan (16) from Clonakilty Community College, Co Cork

Ciaran Nyhan: “My brother entered the competition previously so that’s what got me into it and gave me the idea. I’d be interested in teaching science at secondary level but I don’t see myself in a lab when I’m older.”