Donegal students certainly did the county proud at this year’s BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE).
A remarkable 23 projects from Donegal schools were among the 550 entries from across the island of Ireland to make it to the exhibition. This is a great achievement in itself and every project in the BTYSTE made a contribution to scientific research across a range of fields.
Three Donegal schools took home awards from the exhibition. They were Abbey Vocational School (AVS), Donegal Town; Coláiste Ailigh, Letterkenny; and Scoil Mhuire, Buncrana.
AVS students Ailbhe Loughney and Ella Doherty were Highly Commended for their research into flax as an alternative to plastic strapping.
Education Minister Joe McHugh was impressed by what he saw during the four-day exhibition in the RDS last week. He was particularly pleased to see such a strong presence from Donegal students.
“It’s tremendous, it really is,” said Minister McHugh. “Our county punches hard in many ways but to see our schools leave a mark on the BTYSE with so many students exhibiting is a real boost.
“The atmosphere of excitement, creativity and fun at the RDS this week has been incredible. I am particularly pleased to see so many young people tackling some of the most important issues facing us, from climate change to health to technology, ethics and societal change.
"The students are a credit to their families, schools and teachers and they should rightly be proud of being here. They are a huge inspiration."
AVS teacher Donna Furey was also very proud of her students.
She told the Donegal Post: “It was great to see the AVS back at the BT Young Scientists Exhibition. Hopefully this is the beginning of an exciting future.
“The kids who took part were a credit to themselves, their families and the school. Their behaviour was exemplary and their enthusiasm was commendable. The projects were all excellent.”
Scoil Mhuire teacher Laura Corbett said: “It is a magnificent achievement to have our students qualify to present their projects at the BT Young Scientists and Technology Exhibition.
“I think that they have really done themselves proud and they have certainly done the school proud.”
Ms Corbett believes that BTYSTE is about much more than academics and science. They will take away much more than pure academics and science.
“What it does for their confidence and self-belief is fantastic,” she said. “It is something that they will never forget.”
The overall winners were Cork students Cormac Harrison and Alan O'Sullivan from Coláiste Choilm with their project on gender stereotyping in young children.
It was encouraging to see the innovative solutions that young people were coming up with to solve the problems of their generation. Their research provided a greater understanding of many challenges concerning social issues, climate change, pollution and alternatives to fossil fuels.
The range of projects also made for an insightful snapshot of Ireland in 2020.
It will be interesting to see how these creative and innovative young people will shape the future in Ireland and beyond.
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