Young scientist of 2010

The exuberance of the young students at the award ceremony is infectious

One of the first events in Ireland in the new year is the Young Scientist Exhibition held annually in January. This years event now known as the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition has been in full swing for the past few days.

Picture (C) BT

Richard O'Shea celebrates

School students from across Ireland’s 32 counties descended on the RDS in Dublin set up their stands for the 46th BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition. (I really feel old now as I can remember the first one way back then!)

Chris Clark, CEO, BT said at the start of the event, “After one of the most brutal years for many years and with a tough start to 2010 due to the snow, what better way to get 2010 back on track by being inspired by the young leaders of the future.”

We have 514 stands to visit and the breadth of the research by students is astounding. Among them are plenty of innovative ideas that could potentially be turned into the next big commercial success so who knows, we may discover the next Google this week.”

The first ever winner of the Young Scientist Exhibition was John Monahan from Newbridge College, Co. Kildare (1965). John is now President of his own biotech company, Avigen Inc, based in California and just last month acquired by MediciNova.

Another winner was Sarah Flannery from Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál in Blarney, Cork . She featured on the front page of newspapers around the world after she scooped the 1999 Esat Telecom Young Scientist of the Year title for her project on encryption. Sarah went on to take first place at the 11th EU Science Contest in Greece and represented the European Union at the International Nobel Prize ceremonies in December 1999.

By happy coincidence Richard O’Shea, 18 year old sixth year student, also from Scoil Mhuire Gan Smal, was named the winner of the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition this year with his project entitled, “A biomass fired cooking stove for developing countries”.

Richard received the prestigious honour for his pioneering work on the design of a biomass-fueled cooking stove for use in developing countries.  Over 2 billion people in the world depend on stoves to cook their meals every day, and his project built a new one which uses as little fuel as possible and which ideally produces no smoke. Richard made a strong impression on the judges with his detailed research into the chemical processes involved in burning timber, and with the various designs he came up with using very simple materials such as tin cans and nails which are very easy to find in Third World countries. An added bonus is that his stoves can be built using simple tools such as a Swiss army knife. Richard impressed us with both his science knowledge and the engineering skill he showed in his construction work. He talks us through his invention in the video below!

Conor Lenihan, Minister for Science, Technology, Innovation & Natural Resources with special responsibility for the Knowledge Society, (love the title!), accompanied by Chris Clark of BT, presented Richard with a cheque for €5,000, a Waterford Crystal trophy and the opportunity to represent Ireland at the 21st European Union Contest for Young Scientists taking place in Lisbon, Portugal this coming September.

A Best Group Award  went to Paul McKeever and Bryan Murphy, Abbey Christian Brothers Gs, Co Down for their project entitled “Specs Detector.” This intreguing project was a oair of safety goggles so set up that macinery may not be operated until they are worn by the operator.

See also the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition blog.

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