Environment & Science Editor
More than 1,000 students from across the island of Ireland are exhibiting projects in this year's virtual staging of the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE).
The 57th exhibition is taking place online due to Covid-19. As usual, it brings together some of the country’s brightest young minds on science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) but it is breaking new ground by being available to a global audience.
The staging has been made possible by the creation of a studio hub at the Mansion House in Dublin, where the first exhibition was held in 1965.
Students from 200 schools presenting 550 projects won’t be quizzed by the public this year but will outline their work in a three-minute video available to viewers. Judging takes place in the normal way – but remotely – over coming days.
Communications company BT, in its 21st year as organiser of the exhibition, said it hopes to mimic the physical staging of the event which usually takes place in the RDS. There is free access for the public, once registered at https://portal.btyoungscientist.com/.President Michael D Higgins will open the BTYSTE at a special ceremony streamed from the Mansion House in Dublin on Wednesday at 1pm. He has praised the exhibition for its ability to provide a platform for young people to showcase their talents, describing it as "at the pinnacle of scientific achievement and discovery amongst young people worldwide".
The 2021 projects cover a wide range of topics including Covid-19, the growing prevalence of social media and technology, ethnicity, gender studies, sports science, climate change, solar power and biodiversity. This year’s overall winner will be announced at lunchtime on Friday and presented with a cheque for €7,500.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin congratulated the organisers “who’ve pulled it together despite all of the obstacles”.
“Over the past year, we’ve seen how important science and technology are to solving our global problems, enhancing our living conditions, and helping us to adapt more rapidly to crises. The strength of our scientific community has developed new vaccines and given us new treatments for Covid-19. It is through technology we have been able to bridge the social distance we’ve been faced with,” he added.
BT Ireland managing director Shay Walsh said: "Since its inception, we estimate over three quarters of a million people have visited the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition. This figure highlights just how fascinated people are with the endless possibilities of science and technology. Moving the event to an online setting this year allows us to open our doors to both national and international audiences, free of charge," he added.
During the three-day exhibition, the public can enjoy a wide range of interviews, discussions and shows including on the science of sport with Mark Langtry aka “Mark the Science Guy”, space exploration with aeronautical engineer Dr Norah Patten, and making vaccines in a global pandemic with immunologist Prof Luke O’Neill.
BT is also hosting a number of fringe events including the Connecting Women in Technology (CWIT) TechStarter gathering on Wednesday.
Over 1,300 projects were entered in this year’s contest from a total of 2,578 students. These were whittled down to a shortlist of 1,055 finalists – 62 per cent female and 38 per cent male.
Event and project details are available at www.btyoungscientist.com