Wednesday 16 January 2019

President Higgins hails work of young scientists on climate change

President Higgins said he felt the future of Ireland was in safe hands after surveying the exhibits tackling the world’s biggest issues.

President Michael D Higgins officially opens the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition (Niall Carson/PA)
President Michael D Higgins officially opens the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition (Niall Carson/PA)

By Aoife Moore, Press Association

Young Irish scientists have been praised for their work in tackling climate change and gender equality at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition.

More than 550 exhibits, displayed in the RDS, were put forward by 1,134 students from 246 schools across Ireland.

President Michael D Higgins said he felt the future of Ireland was in safe hands after surveying the exhibits tackling the world’s biggest issues.

“I am affirmed in my belief that we have many young people in this country who promise to become the problem-solvers, critical thinkers, and persistent learners that are so essential to the crafting of a shared and better future for all who share this fragile planet,” he said.

“No responsible policy can afford any longer to ignore environmental issues, issues of growing inequality, obdurate global poverty and gender discrimination.”

Of the 550 projects put forward, 88 explored climate change and environmental issues; examining the threat to the environment posed by habitat loss, harmful levels of heavy metal accumulating in soil and water, and how to reduce the amount of plastic waste produced every year.

Both the environment and gender equality are subjects the president is known to be passionate about.

He went on to note the contribution of female scientists at the exhibition, and urged for further strides toward gender equality in the science sector.

“It is also interesting to note, once again, that although only 25% of those working in Stem industries in Ireland are women, 55% of the participants at this year’s competition are female,” he said.

“That continues a pattern that has been noticeable in the Young Scientist Exhibition in recent years and, for the 12th year in a row, the number of female entrants has been greater than the number of males.

“While it is still a cause of concern that society is being denied the intellectual contribution of so many who could be, but are not, represented in the world of science, many of the obstacles that once stood between women and the pursuit of a scientific career have been removed in recent decades.

“While some barriers remain, more and more women are now playing a leading role in scientific research and in industry.

“It is important that we commit to make every effort to ensure that even more is done to enable even greater access and participation by women at all levels of science.”

The winner(s) will be announced at a special awards ceremony on Friday, where the the overall prize – a cheque for €7,500 – and the BTYSTE perpetual trophy will be presented.

Since 1965, over three quarters of a million people have visited the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition.

Press Association

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