Young Scientists to get extra funding

PLANS to achieve a record number of entries for next year’s BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition could be boosted by increased funds to help schools get to the event.

BT has increased its travel and accommodation grant that supports schools and students who might have difficulty entering because of financial constraints for the January 2012 competition.

The €75,000 fund is a 50% increase on this year’s fund. More than €250,000 has been given to almost 600 schools over the past seven years to help them travel and stay in Dublin for the event. .

The organisers hope to break the record for entries, having had 1,735 projects entered by nearly 4,000 students from both sides of the border last year.

More than 520 projects took part in last January’s event, where Alexander Amini from Castleknock College in Dublin emerged as the overall winner for his tennis sensor data analysis entry.

The best group winners were three students from Coláiste Muire in Crosshaven, Co Cork, for their project on portable community generators for the Third World.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn welcomed a commitment from BT to remain as sponsors for another three years and praised the energy and professionalism of the students, teachers, organisers and judges at the exhibition which is entering its 48th year.

“It provides the motivation and stimulus to encourage today’s students to strive to be at the forefront of research and innovation in tomorrow’s world. Continuing to encourage our young people to be interested in science and technology is vitally important to the economy,” he said.

BT Ireland chief executive Graham Sutherland said that, through the exhibition, the company seeks to encourage bright young minds to invent new products and services, start enterprises, generate exports and create jobs.

Meanwhile, as schools have been told they can no longer use a number of dangerous chemicals, science teachers are seeking clarification about any impact on next year’s exams.

Schools should already have covered all experiments using the substances with students sitting this June’s Junior and Leaving Certificate papers, but Teachers’ Union of Ireland education officer Bernie Judge said any revisions to the syllabus need to be cleared up by the Department of Education and State Examinations Commission for next year’s students.

Questions requiring knowledge of the related experiments could appear in this summer’s exams, but students will not be required to have done the experiments.

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