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The big 50 – BT Young Scientist celebrates milestone year and illustrious history
- BT calls on past participants and visitors to sign exhibition’s virtual 50th birthday card
- BT announces commitment to organising the exhibition until 2016
Students from Wellington College Belfast were among the first to wish the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition a Happy 50th Birthday today at the launch of a milestone year for the exhibition. They were joined by Peter Morris, Director of Corporate Services, BT Northern Ireland, in signing their best wishes which will be recorded on the first virtual birthday card for the exhibition.
BT is calling on all past entrants, visitors, teachers, judges, partners and supporters to connect with the exhibition again and send their Happy Birthday messages and memories via a virtual birthday card, Facebook and Twitter. Simply go to www.btyoungscientist.com/birthday or www.facebook.com/btyste, or use #btyste50 on Twitter to send your birthday wishes and BT will collate the messages. A selection of the most special birthday wishes will be projected onto the RDS, Dublin, in January 2014.
The birthday card is accompanied by a new digital archive created by BT, which displays unique material and iconic moments of the last 49 years of the exhibition. In addition to photographs from throughout the decades, the archive also includes indexed exhibition guides, forming a searchable database of students that competed in the programme. The archive is available at www.btyoungscientist.com/archive and BT is calling on old friends of the exhibition to re-connect on our Facebook page to share their memories.
As part of the launch of the 50th year of the exhibition, BT also announced that it will extend its commitment to organising and sponsoring the competition beyond 2014 and until 2016. This additional two-year sponsorship demonstrates continued support and a significant investment by BT into what is now a cornerstone of the Irish educational calendar.
Commenting at the launch Education Minister John O’Dowd, MLA said,
The importance of STEM subjects at school cannot be over-estimated. If we are to grow the local economy in the future we need to see more young people leaving school and university with STEM-related qualifications. The school pupils of today are the innovators of tomorrow and it is important that we equip them with the skills they need to make the most of the opportunities available to them.
The BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition is now entering its 50th year and over that period it has helped encourage and inspire generations of young people to follow a career in science and technology. I have attended the finals in Dublin for the past two years and the standard of entries on display is exceptional, illustrating the excellent work being done in our schools.
I would encourage all our local post-primary schools to consider entering the competition to enable their students to showcase their talents on the highest stage.
Peter Morris, Director of Corporate Services, BT in Ireland, said,
This is our 14th year as organiser, and I hope our involvement has helped it to evolve into the special programme it is today. Having thrived over five decades, the exhibition shows that an exceptional formula lies at its core, and for us, this year is about celebrating past achievements as well as looking ahead to what we’d like the future to look like. In this special birthday year we would love to see more students from more schools right across Northern Ireland take up the chance to be part of this fabulous event. We believe that this exhibition is one of the best forums for engaging schools and the wider public in the critical skills of science, technology, engineering and maths, and are delighted to be a driving force behind it until at least 2016.
BT estimates that more than 3,500 students and over 1,700 projects qualified from Northern Ireland in the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition over the years. The exhibition’s alumni includes distinguished scientists, academics, researchers and high-tech entrepreneurs like Northern Ireland overall winners Dr Emma McQuillan, Dr Ciara McGolderick and Fiona Rogan, from Dominican College, Belfast, Co Antrim, who won in 1997.
Commenting on the exhibition, Emma, Ciara and Fiona today said,
It is with fond memories that we recall the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition competition we were successful in so many years ago now, and also winning the European Young Scientist Competition. Despite the fact that many years have passed since our participation, thus pushing our recollections of that time further into the vaults of our memories, its impact now is as strong on each of us as it was in 1997.
Each of us has retained a strong association and love of scientific interests and our respective careers reflect this - Emma and Ciara in medicine and Fiona in Biomedical Engineering. Indeed, the skills and knowledge we shared in gathering at that time, and during our participation, have paid dividends and allowed each of us to remain active members of the wider scientific community through our paid employment and social interests. Most importantly however, the Young Scientist competition proved to be the catalyst for a lasting friendship between us and one built on the trusting foundation that anything is possible if teamwork prevails and when everyone is encouraged to participate and share ideas.
The winners of the island of Ireland exhibition have won 14 first prizes during 24 years of the EU Young Scientist Contest, and scooped over 20 top awards in the Science and Engineering Fair in the USA. And it continues to thrive, as one of the longest running events of its kind in the world – 230 projects were received at the first exhibition in 1965, and a record breaking 1,879 ideas in 2013.
The next BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition will take place in the RDS, Dublin from January 8th – 11th 2014 and the closing date for entries is the 2nd October 2013. There are over 120 awards including the overall BT Young Scientist & Technologist of the Year. In addition, BT offers over 30 participating students the opportunity to take part in the BT Young Scientist Business Bootcamp, an intensive commercialisation skills programme.
The BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition is organised by BT, and is supported by a number of valued partners including the Department of Education Northern Ireland, University of Ulster and Matrix. For more information on the exhibition, log onto www.btyoungscientist.com.