President Michael D Higgins has opened the country’s 57th BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition this afternoon, in its first virtual edition.
Over 1,000 students from more than 200 schools across the island are taking part in this year’s virtual exhibition hall.
President Higgins gave an opening address ahead of the first round of judging this afternoon, with over 80 judges volunteering their time to decide the winners of 200 prizes.
Watch from 1 pm as President Higgins opens the first ever Virtual BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition: https://t.co/PFCUCDCfwV
— President of Ireland (@PresidentIRL) January 6, 2021
Competition is said to be tough for the top prize of €7,500, with many projects this year touching on Covid-19.
During the three-day exhibition, guests will hear from speakers, watch live entertainment acts and teachers will also have access to workshops at the new dedicated Teachers’ Area.
Events taking place on the first day of the exhibition include a show on how to become an astronaut by Irish astronaut Norah Patton and Mark Langtry the Science Guy, the Institute of Physics Lightening Show, and a ‘Connecting Women in Technology Event’ called Tech Starter.
Speaking ahead of the event, Minister for Innovation and Science Simon Harris said there was a need to “deal” with the gender gap that persists in the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) sector.
We need lots of different role models to be visible
“We are more aware than ever of the central role of science in our lives. Today’s event is designed to support and encourage students to pursue STEM,” he said.
“Digitalisation is here to stay and will be a key influence on our economy and our society. That is why we need young people like the students at this event to develop the skills for a more digitised future and to reach for the great possibility it presents.
“We need lots of different role models to be visible and to show the next generation that they can also follow their dreams in science. We have to deal with the gender gap that persists in the sector.
“Currently just over a third of STEM academic staff members in Irish universities are women. I am determined we need to do better here, and believe strongly in the maxim — if you can’t see it, you can’t be it.”
The event can be viewed for free on the BTYSTE portal and on Facebook Live. Free registration is open at https://portal.btyoungscientist.com/.