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The future is bright for Science & Technology

May 15, 2019

The 56th BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition to take place from
8-11th January 2020

  • Survey reveals that nearly two in three of 12- 24 year olds would like to see science and technology tackle major societal and climate issues
  • Minister for Education calls on students to get involved in the 2020 BTYSTE
  • BT Ireland celebrates 20 years as organisers of the longest running science and technology event in Europe

Students across Ireland are today being encouraged to get involved in the 2020 BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE), Ireland’s most inspiring celebration of science and technology. The Exhibition will take place from the 8th – 11th January 2020, and students are being urged to start working on their projects today.

To mark its 20th year as both organiser and lead sponsor of the BTYSTE, BT Ireland asked 1,200 people across Ireland, ranging in age from 12 to 55, their perceptions on science and technology to determine the generational views on science and technology today.

One of the questions posed was what progress they would like to see in the future through science and technology. Interestingly, the survey revealed that the majority of 12-18 and 19-24 year olds – Generation Z - would like to see science and technology tackle social and climate issues. In contrast, 25 - 39 year olds and 40 – 59 year olds choose more functional advancements, with over one in three saying they would like to see greater use of AI in transport in the next 20-years.

The survey also found that young people aged between 12-24 years old are those most interested in science and technology at 63%. Furthermore, two in three of this cohort also consider themselves “very well informed” of the latest scientific discoveries and technological developments as compared to 28% of total respondents who said the same, illustrating how strongly this age group see themselves as digital natives.

Ireland’s passion for technology was also evident in how people responded. Over one in three Irish people surveyed cannot live without Wi-Fi with nearly 50% of 19-24 year olds respondents most dependent on it. Mobile phones came a close second at 28%, with one in three people aged between 25-39 years old proving most attached to their devices. Interestingly, one in four of those surveyed said that they could not live without online services such as online banking, storage or shopping apps – the highest proportion of which were 40 and over, showcasing the different priorities across demographics.

 

The BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition is Europe’s longest running science fair; designed to develop science, technology, engineering and maths by providing a platform for research, discovery and critical thinking outside of the classroom. Since BT Ireland took the reins as organiser of the Exhibition in 2001, over 24,000 project ideas have been created through the BTYSTE, many of which have been developed into real life applications, studies and successful businesses.

To celebrate its 20th anniversary, BT Ireland looked to the BTYSTE archives to see how project ideas have evolved over 20 years. A consistent theme throughout these years has been the interest and awareness students have for what is happening in the world around them, and how they are inspired by current events at home and abroad.

  • Climate issues have been consistently strong throughout the years. For example, the question of water quality was to the fore in the 2002 projects, following several international events such as the Galapagos Oil Spill, and the passing of water quality regulation in Ireland in 2001. In 2010, erratic weather in Ireland, and a number of natural disasters internationally, saw an increase of projects looking at eco-friendly alternatives to power.
  • Political change has also been reflected over the years. For example, the number of road traffic accidents and the impact of smoking projects came through strongly in 2004 and 2005 respectively with the passing of landmark legislation in Ireland.
  • Across both decades, diversity and inclusion is on the increase with many projects reflecting the issues of the time. 2010 projects sought to address the impact of the recession; marriage equality and the refugee crisis were in focus in 2015, and most recently, in 2019 more and more students were looking to science and technology to tackle societal issues such as homelessness and health.
  • Notably, the growth of technology over the noughties can be charted in BTYSTE project trends. In the early 2000s, projects looked at new innovations and how they could make life more convenient. By 2015, this focus shifted to the potential technology has to help humanity: from making machines more environmentally friendly to improving the lives of those with learning or physical impairments.

Joe McHugh, Minister for Education & Skills said: “It is encouraging to see so many young people develop an interest in the big issues affecting our lives today and into the future.  The focus Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) through their participation in the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition and The Primary Science Fair provides an unbeatable bedrock for their studies and career paths. It is always heartening to see parents, teachers and schools put greater emphasis on the merits of science and technology in recent years, and initiatives such as this play a crucial role in raising awareness and participation in science and technology.

I was hugely impressed by the scale and breadth of talent, knowledge and innovation on display at last year’s BTYSTE. It is one of the highlights of the school education calendar and I support BTYSTE’s call for students across the country to begin thinking about what great project idea they will enter into the BTYSTE 2020 and The Primary Science Fair”.

Shay Walsh, managing director, BT Ireland said, “For 56 years, the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition has been the official national celebration of science and technology at school level, and to have been involved in this journey of discovery for the last 20 years has been an honour for BT.  We feel fortunate to have supported thousands of young people to realise their potential and are so proud of the success achieved by so many of our valued alumni. BTYSTE2020 is going to be a very special Exhibition so I would encourage every school to get involved and start planning their projects today. What they create today will shape the world we live in tomorrow, and that’s a very exciting prospect.”

The BTYSTE continues to remain the most popular celebration of science and technology in Ireland. Since 2001 the number of visitors has increased 125% to 45,000 attendees in January 2019.  The BTYSTE is open to all second-level students aged 12 – 19 years in the Republic and Northern Ireland. Students can enter as an individual or as part of a group in one of the four categories: Biological and Ecological Sciences; Chemical, Physical & Mathematical Sciences; Social & Behavioural Sciences; and Technology. Further details on how to enter and a helpful guide to submitting a project idea can be found here https://btyoungscientist.com/how-to-get-involved/.

The Primary Science Fair also returns to the BTYSTE from the 9th – 11th January 2020. Open to primary-level students from 3rd -6th class, the Primary Science Fair will run alongside the main Exhibition at the RDS arena and has become an integral part of the overall BTYSTE festival of science and technology over the last 16 years. Details on how to enter can be found here: https://btyoungscientist.com/the-primary-science-fair-at-btyste/primary-science-info-exhibiting-schools/.

Follow #BTYSTE2020 online via www.btyoungscientist.com and on social media @BTYSTE on Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Instagram and Snapchat.

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