Science & Technology in Action

11th Edition

They imagined their discoveries...

BT Young Scientist & Technology

With over 50.000 visitors, the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition, showcases some 550 student projects. This lesson provides first-hand accounts from three previous prize winners – two groups and one individual – who describe the unique, fascinating, and often life-changing, experience in their own words.
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Contains the full lesson along with a supporting toolkit, including teachers’ notes.

Lesson excerpt

The amazing thing about the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition and indeed science in general, is that it never ceases to surprise you! Before my BT Young Scientist experience I would have never thought that I had a science bone in my body. I had imagined science being difficult equations and experiments carried out on far away labs that I would never have any connection with. But the amazing thing about the BT Young Scientist is that it proves that there is science in everything, and everywhere in the world around us. 

For my project idea I looked to my favourite past time – camogie. I love playing it but the BT Young Scientist got me to look at it in a different light, and got me thinking outside the box. Perhaps one of the most common problems in hurling and camogie is injuries. So for my project called ‘An Tionchar – The Impact Hurling Boot’ (meaning impact in Irish), I designed and tested a boot specifically to meet the needs of hurling and camogie players’

Shiofa Ryan from St Brendan’s Community College in Birr, Co Offaly. (2015 BTYSTE, 2nd Prize, Technological Sciences, Intermediate Individual)

‘Our project was called ‘Encouraging horses to eat by adding various flavours to their feed’. We conducted a trial using 110 horses to see if horses preferred flavours in their feed. We used several different flavours for our trial and we found that 70% of horses prefer a flavour in their feed. 

Following our win we received help from a horse feed manufacturer to turn our project into into a business called FenuHealth and to go to the largest Horse Trade Fair in the World, Equitana, in Germany. 

Before we went to Germany we met with Minister of Agriculture Simon Coveney T.D. and he launched our product for us. Elaine Hatton (Irish Thoroughbred Marketing), Ann-Marie Walsh (Enterprise Ireland) and Mari Cahalane (Head of BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition) came with us. We also met with the German Ambassador and he helped us too. Also supporting us before we travelled to Germany were the Enterprise Unit of Meath County Council, Dr Pearse Lyons of Alltech (one of the biggest horse supplement companies in the world) and Horse Racing Ireland. Enterprise Ireland were also a great help and their marketing and design departments helped us with all our own marketing.’ 

Kate and Annie Madden of Loreto College, St Stephen’s Green, Dublin. (2015 BTYSTE, 2nd Prize, Biological Sciences, Intermediate Group)

‘Our project started when we were in second year. We suspected that the songs migratory birds, such as the swallow, had influenced Irish and African music. As traditional musicians, we learned music mainly by ear rather than from sheet music. Patrick thought that one birdsong sounded like “The Kesh Jig”. When he discovered the bird was a swallow, all he knew about the swallow was that it migrates to Africa every year. He then thought that if these birds can influence the music here in Ireland, they might do the same in Africa and cause the two genres of music to sound similar.

We researched our hypothesis by using an audio editor. This allowed us to place two pieces of audio side by side so we that could compare them both visually and aurally. We then took our findings and analysed them mathematically using the Fourier Transform. This mathematical function can break down an audio signal into a set of discrete frequencies. This shows the connections more clearly. We found huge similarities between the migratory birds and the music of the two regions. This then led us to question that if the birds can influence music here, maybe they can do the same in other parts of the world?’

Patrick Sweeney, Chloe Daniels and Annette Mora of Carrick-On-Shannon Community School, Co Leitrim. (2015 BTYSTE, Group runner-up prize).