And the winners are.... Ireland's budding scientists nab prestigious prizes at the BT Young Scientist expo
DUBLIN student Shane Curran was crowned the 2017 BT Young Scientist following another hugely successful year.
The Terenure College pupil (16) won the award for his project, qCrypt, which is a device to protect sensitive data and secrets.
This year’s awards again proved a roaring success with almost 50,000 people visiting the RDS in Dublin.
It was the fourth time Shane had entered the popular competition and he said it was "phenomenal" to win the big prize.
"I’m absolutely delighted, I wasn’t expecting it at all so it was a real shock to hear my name called out," he told the Irish Independent.
"In essence qCrypt is a system for storing secrets, that the secret can be either be secure forever or until the person who stored the secret has died."
The Dubliner also said that recent events in the US presidential election show data security is a big issue.
"WhatsApp has done some really cool stuff lately, it’s definitely a space that has been getting bigger every year and I suppose recent events in the US lately have triggered that with the DNC hacking," he added.
Shane picked up a prize of €5,000 and he will go forward to represent Ireland in the EU contest for young scientists in Estonia later this year.
Runner up in the top category was Cormac Larkin from Coláiste An Spioraid Naoimh in Cork for a project on how to identify huge stars.
The Best Group award went to Michael Sheehan and Jack Murphy from Coláiste Treasa, Kanturk, Co Cork, for their investigation into how to protect the endangered hen harrier.
Sligo students Matthew Blakeney and Mark McDermott from Jesus and Mary Secondary School in Enniscrone finished second in this category.
The award for the best school in the Republic of Ireland was scooped by Coláiste Treasa in Co Cork.
While Loreto College in Coleraine claimed the prize for the best school in Northern Ireland.
Also included in the 120 awards given out was the EI Electronics Award which was won by Kayla McMahon from Desmond College in Limerick.
Kayla’s project was a device called the “Fire Tech Stinguisher” which was a device to show the type of fire extinguisher in place and sounds an alarm when it detects smoke while pointing to the nearest exit.
The winners of the junior group in technology were Gavin McGinley and Roy Flaherty for their arcade system that emulated multiple game consoles such as Sega Megadrive or a Super Nintendo.
While Niall Meade picked up the individual junior award in technology with a referee’s wrist band that causes quicker decision making between referee’s called the “Ref Network”.
Winners of the junior group award in the biological and ecological sciences were Caoimhe Lynch and Sylvie Plant for a project which investigated whether the pitch of music effected the sweetness and bitterness of food.
The intermediate individual prize for the category meanwhile was picked up by David Hamilton from Ardscoil Ris in Limerick whose project investigated solutions to the falling bee population.
Amongst a mixture of special awards given was the UCD Social Sciences Award won by Julie Ryan and Meave McMahon for their project which investigated the effects on well-being on elderly people who use the free travel scheme.
The students also won the best senior group in the Social and Behavioural Sciences category.
The Environmental Protection Agency award was awarded to Michael Sheehan and Jack Murphy from Colaiste Treasa in Co Cork.
They won the award for an investigation into the prey availability as a function of habitat within managed farmland for hen harriers.
A total of 2,091 projects and 375 schools entered the event this year with 550 projects being accepted in this year’s finals with a total of 1,142 students competing.
The youngest ever winner of the prize was a 13 year old Emer Jones from Tralee, Co. Kerry in January 2008.
Minister for State for Diaspora Joe McHugh said the exhibition this year was “fascinating and that all the students and their families should be extremely proud of themselves this year”.
“People have come all the way from Tanzania this year and some of the projects this year will affect people’s lives from all over the world.
“The students will be having having great craic and great fun here but when they go back they will be influencing their peers and friends and the people in their own communitites
“I’m just so impressed because it gives you hope when there are so many challenges and problems in the world but there’s people here who are going to be working towards the next generation and solving the problems and today has given me a lot of hope”, he said.
Minister for Education Richard Bruton said he was “dumbfounded by the scale and the endeavour by those who took part. This was something from the students who gave their time to give to our futures.
“There are teachers up and down this country lighting the flame. I want to single out the teachers who have just been outstanding”
“We’ve had a lost decade but there’s no doubt that the exhibition has been one of those cracks that has let in the light”
“The ambition is to have the best education service within ten years in Europe and we have the talent to drive it”, he said.