This year’s BT Young Scientist projects were noble in nature

10 Jan 2020

Students at BTYSTE 2020. Image: Connor McKenna/

Many of the projects at the 2020 BT Young Scientist were set on helping others, from teaching children about renewable energy through play to assisting students with autism.

On day two of this year’s BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE), the RDS was bustling with excited young innovators. They stood proudly by their projects, which reflected the culmination of months of hard work and dedication ranging across all areas of STEM – from climate action to healthcare.

We’ve already taken a close look at some of the exciting projects on display, including a machine learning app to help treat dementia and an organic process to help solve global drought. But there were many more great ideas around the hall, as we found out through chatting to some of the talented students awaiting a visit from the judging panel.

‘I want to try and help people like me’

Hugh Murtagh from Coláiste Mhuire in Westmeath believes in the power of technology to help people with autism. He developed A-Ok, a wristband that students with autism can wear “discreetly” at school and use to quietly alert the teacher if they’re having any difficulties.

“I have autism and I know just how hard it is to try and focus in class when you feel overwhelmed. I want to try and help people like me and people who also have autism,” he said.

“When they feel overwhelmed in the classroom-based environment they can press a button and it will send an email through Python to the teacher’s inbox.”

Eco-powered dollhouse

How should we teach children about renewable energy? The answer might be more fun than you think.

Rionach Hackett and Chloe Curran from St Ciarán’s College in Tyrone demonstrated that with their eco-powered dollhouse, which boasts such features as solar panels on the roof that charge during the day and power the house’s lights during the night.

“Our project is an eco-powered dollhouse to teach children about renewable energy through play. A child playing with dolls is going to absorb that a lot more than if you just sat them down with a couple of books,” they said.

Which dog breed is the cleverest?

Have you ever wondered whether some dogs are smarter than others? Ruby McMahon and Erica Mooney from St Joseph’s Secondary School in Mayo have been speculating on that, too.

Their project – Dogs Defined – involved testing four dog breeds over two weeks to find out which breed learned tricks the fastest.

“We came to the conclusion that the mixed breed was the easiest dog to train because the genetics of two dogs are overlapping and linking, which can make the dog clever,” they said.

“We thought it was really fun and it’s a good way to bond with your dogs.”

Lisa Ardill was careers editor at Silicon Republic until June 2021