BT Ireland Young Scientist

Published 25/03/2005 10:40   |    Updated 12/01/2009 14:40
Who were the winners of the 2009 BT Ireland Young Scientist competition?


For over forty years, the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition has been an unforgettable experience of a lifetime for the students that take part.


The Taoseach Brian Cowen is leading the tributes to the joint winners of the 2009 BT Young Scientist of the year title. The pair, 14 year old John D. O'Callaghan and 13 year old Liam McCarthy , 2nd year students from Kinsale Community School, Co. Cork, were entered in the Biological and Ecological Sciences category, junior section with their groundbreaking test to establish the health of cattle using washing up liquid.


Officially termed "The Development of a convenient test method for Somatic Cell Count and its importance in Milk Production" it's thought the research could be commercialised for use by farmers in Ireland and futher afield. John and Liam are two farmers' sons from Cork, concerned with the financial losses incurred if milk sold from their farms had high contents of somatic cells.


Somatic cells reflect infection in the mammary gland of the cow and downgrades the processability of the milk during cheese making. Current tests for somatic cells are expensive and slow. In their research the boys discovered that if a small amount of detergent is mixed with a fresh sample of milk the mixture becomes progressively more viscous as the somatic cell content of the milk rises. With this knowledge in mind they derived a simple apparatus that could be used by the farmer to quickly test the milk and determine its status. This will be of tremendous commercial help to farmers and is a marketable product.


An Taoiseach Brian Cowen accompanied by BT CEO Chris Clark presented the pair with a cheque for €5,000, a Waterford Crystal trophy and the opportunity to represent Ireland at the 21st European Union Contest for Young Scientists taking place in Paris this coming September. And the industry of the Cork students is just what the Taoiseach wants to see in these challenging times.



A Brief History... from 1963 to Today

In 1963 two UCD physics researchers, Rev. Dr. Tom Burke and Dr. Tony Scott, while conducting research in New Mexico, America, came across ‘Science Fairs’. These local school science exhibitions culminated into State Fairs and ultimately a national competition. The pair decided that this type of hands-on science was something that Irish students could benefit from, by taking science outside the four walls of the classroom and showing that it is all around.  And so the Young Scientist Exhibition was born.


The first competition was held in 1965 in the Round Room of the Mansion House in Dublin and attracted 230 entries. It was open to individual entries from second level students in the subjects of Physics, Geography, Chemistry, Biochemistry and Mathematics.  The success of the first year was such that the exhibition moved to the much larger venue of the R.D.S. in year two and it has remained there ever since.

By 1969 the competition had been extended to include schools from Northern Ireland and in the mid 1970’s teams of up to three students were allowed to enter.


The categories were redefined as Chemical, Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Biological and Ecological Sciences; Social and Behavioural Sciences and then in 1999, a separate Technology category was introduced.


For many years the exhibition was sponsored by Aer Lingus and then for a short time by Esat, which was taken over by BT in 2000. The event has been organised and sponsored by BT Ireland ever since.


In recent years the number of entries has increased dramatically, reaching an all time high in 2007 when 1278 projects were submitted. All entries are screened to select the 500 projects that go through to compete in the R.D.S  Attendance at the exhibition over the three public days is now 35,000, making it one of the largest events of its kind in Europe, if not the world!


The BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition is more than a competition, it is an unforgettable experience of a lifetime for the students that take part.  As well as 500 student projects themselves, there are a further four exhibition halls filled with science and technology based exhibits and entertainment which show that science really is cool and lots of fun.


The BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition 2009 takes place in the R.D.S. Dublin, from Tuesday 6th to Saturday 10th January.  The Exhibition opens to the public on three days, - Thursday 8th, Friday 9th and Saturday 10th respectively, from 9:30am to 5:30pm daily.


2009 marks the 45th anniversary of the Exhibition and the ninth year that BT has been sponsor and organiser.


For all the latest information, including hints and frequently asked questions about the Exhibition please click on the website link below.


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