RECORD numbers of pupils are hoping to become the nation's top young scientists next January.
The largest-ever number of students have entered the 50th anniversary BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition in Dublin. Some 2,000 ideas were submitted by 4,418 students from across all 32 counties.
Pupils from half of all secondary schools in the State have entered a project for the milestone year. Some 379 schools will be represented.
BT, which has organised the exhibition for 14 years, has evolved the exhibition to engage as many young people as possible in the key areas of science, technology, engineering, maths, innovation and commercialisation.
There has been a tripling of project entries, a 'boot camp' to make ideas more commercial, a financial bursary to assist participating schools; and a growing array of science and technology exhibits, events and special acts.
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said: "The importance of investment in research and innovation to our economy cannot be underestimated.
"I commend everyone involved in the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition for providing a platform for young people to showcase their creative ideas on both national and international stages."
The exhibition will take place in the RDS, Dublin from January 8 – 11, 2014.
For more information on the exhibition, log onto www.btyoungscientist.com.