BT Young Scientists - Science for Development Showcase Event 2023
News24 March 2023
The Minister of State for International Development and Diaspora, Sean Fleming, hosted the Science for Development Showcase in Iveagh House on 22 March 2023. Eleven inventions that could be used in the Global South were selected from this year’s BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition. Irish Aid, in collaboration with Self Help Africa, has been organising the Science for Development Award at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition since 2006.
The aim of the award is to encourage students and teachers to consider big global challenges and use science and technology to think of creative solutions. Previous winners have created a stove that uses biomass fuel, a water filtration system made of eggshells and developed a micro-organism that fed on cholera in water. An independent panel of judges at the BTYSTE look for projects that can help people living in some of the poorest countries in the world.
Minister Fleming noted how many of this year’s projects focussed on food security, energy and health, reflecting many of the current global crises. He congratulated all the students there, especially those first and second year students who still have a number of years to further develop their projects for future BTYSTE competitions.
This year’s winners were Vedh Kannan and Will Carkner from Sutton Park School, Dublin who attended with their teacher Joanne Hanratty. They created a portable diagnostic device that could diagnose diseases including malaria and leukaemia. The device allows blood samples to be tested for disease with 94% accuracy. Crucially it does not require doctors to administer, potentially increasing access to testing in low-income countries. The winners receive a perpetual trophy and a €7,000 bursary for the students and their teacher to travel on a fact-finding/field testing visit to a country in Africa, in association with Self Help Africa.
The winners of the 2023 Science for Development award Vedh Kannan and Will Carkner with Minister Fleming
The showcase event acknowledges students who were eligible for the award and affords them the opportunity to engage with like-minded young scientists as well as Self Help Africa and Irish Aid staff, along with invited guests from NGOs, universities and other education organisations.
Renewable and sustainable energy production was of interest to many of the BTYSTE participants in January of this year. Sara O’ Beirne from Mohill Community College, Leitrim, demonstrated her eco-friendly wind turbine at the Showcase. The wind turbine she created uses wood instead of fiberglass to generate energy. She uses her wood turbine at home to charge a battery when the sun isn’t shining. She has already received funding to further develop her project which could be of use in many locations across the world including the Global South, where fiberglass is not as readily available.
Black solider flies (BSF) as an alternative source of protein was investigated by Jasper Ryan, Seán Brennan and Shreyash Shukla from Athlone Community College. The larvae of the black solider fly have a lower carbon footprint than other sources such a soya, and is often eaten in Asian and African countries. However, it isn’t classified as a foodstuff in Europe. The Athlone students changed the microbiomes in the gut of the BSF to make them safer to eat.
Second year student from Presentation College Galway, Gearóid Halleran discusses his project with Minister Fleming
Oscar Green, a first year student from Kinsale Community School got inspired from his parent’s trip to a Coldplay concert and undertook a project entitled “An investigation into the impact of kinetic flooring as a renewable energy source in schools”. Oscar’s project, which won him a Highly Commended rosette at the BTYSTE competition, looked at the possibility of using the energy created by people walking or dancing on a floor to power a school which could be of particular use in low resource contexts
Dr. Tony Scott, founder of Ireland's Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition spent some time discussing the projects with the students. He noted that the BTYSTE is turning 60 years old this week. Dr. Scott offered his advice and wisdom to the students on their projects.
The winners of this year’s Science for Development award hope to travel to one of Irish Aid’s partner countries in the autumn, along with the winners from 2021 and 2022 who couldn’t travel due to Covid restrictions. They will travel with our partner Self Help Africa and to learn about the work being done by Self-Help Africa and its partners in Africa.
Participants and guests at the 2023 Science for Development Showcase at Iveagh House on 22 March 2023