2016 BTYSTE officially launched with help from a pink elephant

29 Apr 2015

Last year’s winners, Eimear Murphy and Ian O’ Sullivan from Coláiste Treasa in Cork with the pink elephant at ther launch of 2016 BTYSTE. Image via Fennel Photography

The country’s brightest young minds have been asked to apply for the 2016 BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE), at a launch event that featured a peculiar pink elephant.

Those wandering through Dublin’s Grand Canal Dock may have spotted the peculiar pink creature in a glass cube or the extra-terrestrial family, which were put there to spark people’s imaginations ahead of the launch of next year’s BTYSTE.

Sponsors of the event, BT, are now calling on secondary school students across the island of Ireland to get involved.

Students interested in entering either the individual or group categories must submit a one-page proposal outlining their project idea before the closing date of 29 September 2015. It can be based in the four categories of technology, social and behavioural science, biological and ecological science or chemical, as well as physical and mathematical science.

Last year’s winners, Eimear Murphy and Ian O’ Sullivan from Coláiste Treasa in Cork, were at the launch to encourage the next year of innovators. They won last year’s top prize for their project entitled Alcohol consumption: Does the apple fall far from the tree? The project explored the potential influence that parents have on their adolescent children’s alcohol consumption through their own drinking and their attitudes towards drinking.

Pink elephant for 2016 BTYSTE

The pink elephant appeared mysteriously on Monday ahead of the launch of the 2016 BTYSTE. Image via FleishmanHillard

Timing of entry is crucial

BT estimates that more than 72,000 students have entered more than 34,000 projects in the BTYSTE over the past 51 years, with many of the exhibition’s alumni having gone on to become distinguished scientists, academics, researchers and entrepreneurs, including Ireland’s youngest billionaires, Patrick and John Collison from Limerick.

More recently, Emer Hickey, Ciara Judge and Sophie Healy Thow, winners of the BTYSTE in 2013, were last year named in Time magazine’s list of the world’s most influential teenagers. Sophie, Emer and Ciara will also be taking part in Inspirefest 2015 in June this year.

Giving advice for this year’s applicants, last year’s winner Eimear said: “Timing your entry for the exhibition is really important. We had been thinking about entering over the summer months and developed our idea after returning to school in September.

“After our proposal was accepted, we used the autumn months to carry out our research, which was the foundation of our project. I would recommend anyone thinking about entering to tease out their ideas no matter how wacky they seem. The exhibition is all about imagination and discovery and it has been one of the best life experiences I’ve had so far.”

The deadline for applications for the 2016 BTYSTE is 29 September, with the event taking place from 6-9 January 2016.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic