Contains the full lesson along with a supporting toolkit, including teachers’ notes.
The annual BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE) has achieved the status of a world renowned event. Each year, some 60,000 visitors attend to admire the various exhibitions. The central attraction is the display of student projects. Every single project is the result of much hard work, inspired thinking and an astonishing creative spirit. In 2016 there were 550 such projects, each competing for the many awards on offer. In particular, the dream is to take the Young Scientist(s) of the Year award. This is the ultimate honour and brings with it the opportunity to represent Ireland at the European Union Contest for Young Scientists.
In this lesson we discuss the process involved in entering this prestigious competition. We will refer mainly to group projects but the process involved applies equally to those students entering as individuals. In either case you must: choose your topic, plan the project and submit your one-page proposal. The lesson focuses on these aspects, with particular stress on the one-page proposal.
Where will we get the idea?
The BTYSE website contains wonderful stories by prize winning students of their reasons for choosing particular ideas. (http://btyoungscientist.com/ case-studies). Frequently the ideas have arisen from a personal interest or hobby, an everyday experience, an article seen in a newspaper, a TV programme, a class discussion or even a problem mentioned by someone else. An idea generation session with fellow students and your teachers can produce many possibilities. Also, it is a good idea to ask family members and other contacts.
There are many ideas available at http://btyoungscientist.com/inspire-me/ Your initial inspiration may come from here.
Research is essential
The ability to conduct research is a valuable skill and developing it is a distinct benefi t of engaging with the BTYSE. You will probably have conducted some research during the idea generation phase. There is also the possibility that the research you conduct following the original idea will produce a more attractive idea. This is why scientific research is often seen as being iterative i.e. it is carried out again and again as a project advances. Initially you will be conducting a data collection exercise to find out what is known about your topic. You will then use that knowledge to generate investigations or experiments. All your research should be organised. Findings should be recorded in your Project Diary and all sources of information noted. This will be critical if you are required to deliver a presentation. There are many possible idea sources including teachers, parents, professionals and educational institutions. You can carry out a powerful literature review by visiting the internet or a library.