What to expect at the first ever virtual BT Young Scientist exhibition

15 Dec 2020

Sinethemba Masina and Anga Singqandu from Borrisokane Community College, Co Tipperary. Image: Fennell Photography

Free registration has opened for the virtual BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition taking place in January 2021.

The 2021 BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE) will be like no other in its long history as the event has gone fully virtual amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

This year’s main exhibition will showcase 550 student projects selected from more than 1,300 entries. Students from all over Ireland will be represented with projects exploring such varied topics as Covid-19, social media, ethnicity, gender studies, domestic abuse, sexual assault, sports science and socio-economic challenges.

Typically, the exhibition in Dublin welcomes around 50,000 visitors at the beginning of each year. This year, access to the entire online event will be completely free to public visitors from all over the world.

“After months of hard work and commitment to ensuring the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition could happen in 2021, we are delighted to reveal the first look at our exciting line-up, which will be housed on our amazing portal,” said Mari Cahalane, head of BTYSTE

“The virtual exhibition will be free to guests from all around the world, allowing attendees of all ages to immerse themselves in the inspiring work of our students and hear from an array of exciting guest speakers – all from the comfort of their home or classroom, wherever in the world that may be!”

Cahalane added that this will be “a new experience for all involved” but the online event will still have the usual line-up of family entertainment, science demonstrations and interactive discussions alongside the student project showcase

Special guests

Across the three days of the exhibition, guests will be invited to learn about the student projects and will also be given the chance to hear from special guests.

One of these is Danielle Wilcox, winner of the first ever BTYSTE Irish Scientists Have Talent competition held earlier this year. A telescope operator and resident astronomer at the Blackrock Castle Observatory in Cork, Wilcox will showcase the different types of telescopes used at the observatory including Big Bertha, which is used for imaging supermassive black holes.

Other acts will explore the science of sport, how to become an astronaut and the expanse of the universe.

Teachers attending the event will also be able to attend a collection of workshops hosted in the dedicated Teachers’ Area.

BTYSTE will also play host to the annual Primary Science Fair, which gives primary school students the chance to explore science, technology, engineering and maths through projects in a non-competitive environment.

Fringe events

Fringe events at the 2021 showcase include the Connecting Women in Technology Tech Starter panel discussion moderated by Silicon Republic co-founder Ann O’Dea. This discussion will explore bright futures in technology careers with contributions from BT global VP Hila Meller, BTYSTE alum and young entrepreneur Edel Browne, former BTYSTE winner Abdul Abubakar, who is now a software engineer at Ericsson, and Dr Sahar Alialy, an operations manager at Intel and postdoctoral research fellow at Trinity College Dublin.

Nextipedia is a fringe event for the business audience that will feature Aron Ralston, the subject of the 2010 movie 127 Hours, which told the harrowing story of his experience trapped in a south-east Utah canyon.

Also speaking at Nextipedia will be UK paraclimber Jesse Dufton, who will offers his insight on problem-solving and determination, and KeepAppy founder Aimee Louise Carton, who advocates for a digital mental health revolution.

How to attend

Free registration for the 2021 Young Scientist event is now open at BTYSTE portal. Visitors will be able to explore the event, including student projects and exhibitor stands via this portal.

The event will run from Wednesday, 6 January to Friday, 8 January from 9am to 5.30pm each day, with a schedule filled with STEM-focused shows and talks.

Registration for the Tech Starter panel discussion is available on Eventbrite and those interested in Nextipedia can register here.

A virtual opening ceremony will start at 1pm on the opening day, while the awards ceremony will be held at 1pm on 8 January. These will be broadcast live on the website and Facebook Live.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.