BT Young Scientist winners examine the impact of second-level education

13 Jan 2023

From left: Shane O’Connor and Liam Carew. Image: Chris Bellew/Fennell Photography

The 19-year-old Leaving Certificate students from Tipperary took home the top prize at the BTYSTE’s first in-person event in three years.

Shane O’Connor and Liam Carew have been named the overall winners of the 2023 BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE).

The 19-year-old students from The Abbey School in Tipperary wowed the judges with their project titled: ‘Assessing the impact of second-level education on key aspects of adolescents’ life and development’.

“What we are looking at here is a very impressive survey conducted in three waves over 24 months with more than 2,000 responses examining how secondary school students perceived school to impact on their social, physical and mental wellbeing,” said Prof Joe Barry, chair of the social and behavioural sciences group judging panel.

“One of the key findings coming out of the research was that whilst inequality is prevalent in DEIS schools, exponential improvements in areas of pastoral care and physical health are quickly closing this gap,” he added.

As well as the top accolade, O’Connor and Carew have been awarded a €7,500 prize and will go on to represent Ireland with their project at the EU Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS) later this year.

They’ll also get to attend the 64th annual London International Youth Science Forum this summer.

Now in its 59th year, BTYSTE returned to the RDS for a spectacular in-person event after Covid-19 forced the exhibition to take place virtually in 2021 and 2022.

Ahead of the winner’s announcement, Minister for Education Norma Foley, TD, commended the BTYSTE for continuing to thrive, despite being behind closed doors throughout the pandemic.

“While it was gratifying to celebrate the innovation, ingenuity and collaborative efforts of our students in a digital space over the last two years, I think you will all join with me here when I say, absolutely nothing can replace the buzz and excitement of an in-person gathering.”

Approximately 550 projects from more than 1,100 students were on display throughout the RDS since the event launched earlier this week.

Previous winners of the overall competition include Patrick Collison of Stripe, and Shane Curran, who went on to found cybersecurity company Evervault.

The 2021 winner, Greg Tarr, went on to set up his own company called Inferex. Last year’s winners, Aditya Joshi and Aditya Kumar went on to take home the top prize at EUCYS in September 2022.

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Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic