Liam Carew and Shane O’Connor from the Abbey School in Co. Tipperary have been announced as the winners of the 2023 BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE) at the RDS in Dublin today (Friday, January 13).
Their project, ‘Assessing the impact of second-level education on key aspects of adolescents’ life and development’, earned them the perpetual trophy and the top prize of €7,500.
They will now go on to represent Ireland at the European Union Contest for Young Scientists, which takes place in Brussels, Belgium in September 2023.
The boys will also attend the 64th Annual London International Youth Science Forum in the summer.
The prize was presented to the winners during the awards ceremony this evening by education minister Norma Foley, and the managing director of BT Ireland, Shay Walsh.
BTYSTE 2023 kicked off on Wednesday (January 11) at the RDS in Dublin as it returned in-person for the first time since 2020.
It is the 59th edition of the event, which aims to celebrate STEM research and innovation amongst young people.
President Michael D. Higgins opened the event in an official ceremony on Wednesday, and offered his best wishes and good luck to the students particiapting.
Speaking directly to the competing students, he said: “I have faith in your ability, our young Irish scientists, to locate your gifts, your brilliance, in a moral context, to be willing to work for the benefit of all humanity beyond any well-earned personal reward.”
Speaking at the opening ceremony, head organiser of BTYSTE 2023, Mari Cahalane, said: “We are delighted to back in person in 2023 and for the students to be able to showcase their wonderful projects to the public.
“It’s a special opportunity for them to be able to meet President Higgins and to let him know of all the great work the young people of Ireland are doing in the science and technology space.
“We hope that his speech will continue to inspire young people to keep innovating and exploring.’’
Feeding strategies for Friesian bull calves
During the course of the event, many agriculture related projects and studies were on display.
One such project, carried out by Ronan Moloney and Paddy Canniffe of Kinsale Community School in Co. Cork, aimed to evaluate the most efficient strategies for the feeding of Friesian bull calves.
The boys concluded that their investigations were a success after they discovered a way to save 9hrs/wk by adapting a ‘once-a-day’ feeding system.
They ran their experiment for six weeks, which consisted of taking 20 Friesian calves and splitting them into two groups.
One group was being fed milk replacer once a day, and the other group was being fed milk replacer twice a day. The boys explained that they expected the group that was being fed milk replacer twice a day to be heavier.
“However, the group that was being fed milk replacer once a day made up for it in dry feed. So they were actually both the same, which were happy with,” Ronan told Agriland.
As a result, their project concluded that a saving of nine labour hours per week was achieved when the experiment was scaled up to a 100-cow herd.
Pinkeye in cattle
Another project on display at the exhibition today was that of Stephen Hurley from Schull Community College in Co. Cork.
Hurley carried out an investigation into the connection between pinkeye in cattle and the wrapping on silage bales.
He carried out the experiment on his grandfather’s farm, where he swabbed bales for bacteria both immediately after unwrapping them and then again 12 hours later to study the difference in bacteria presence.
Hurley found that the amount of bacteria present after the 12 hours was significantly lower than when the wrapping is first taken off.
“The results which I got from the LB agar plates show me that by the bales being opened for a 12-hour period, the bacteria either dies off or disperses out of the bales to lessen the number of colonies of bacteria in the silage,” he said.
“This possibly lowers the chance of the cattle getting infected with pinkeye compared to if they were fed the bale when it was only just taken out of the wrapping.”
Hurley said that it would be of benefit to farmers to start testing their silage bales for bacteria so they can prevent it getting into their cattle.
“This could be a good thing for Irish farms as testing the bales may be of benefit to reduce the occurrence of pinkeye which will reduce the farm workload,” he said.