When did the Young Scientist Exhibition start?
The Young Scientists' Exhibition was the brainchild of two UCD Physics researchers, a Carmelite Priest, the Rev Dr Burke and Dr Tony Scott. In the US in 1963 they discovered "science fairs" and tailored the idea for Ireland.
Where was the first Young Scientist Exhibition held?
The first competition was held in the Mansion House Round Room, Dublin. Aer Lingus handled administration and promotion. It had 230 participants. The first winner was John Monaghan, today the Chief Executive Officer of Avigen, a US Biotech company.
Success created demand for a bigger venue. Scott, a member of the RDS science committee identified a common interest and they moved to the RDS and remained there ever since.
What were the original categories?
Early Exhibitions involved individuals competing under subjects related to the curriculum. Recategorisation came in the 1970s with new Science Syllabi. Biology in particular had a large uptake. Today it represents the largest Senior Cycle Science Subject.
When did the special awards come in ?
The Institute of Physics sponsored the first "special" awards 1981. This allowed the Science committee build up a series of special prize sponsors in various fields. Group entries were also introduced and this enabled multi-disciplined managed projects to develop.
From early on, overall participants did very well internationally. Mary Kelly Quinn (1976) won the European competition. Today, overall winners go to the European Competition. Others may go to the USA for the International Science and Engineering Fair.
When did BT become the sponsor & organiser?
By 1990 the three established categories were Chemical, Physical and Mathematical; Social and Behaviourial; Biological and Ecological. When Aer Lingus ended sponsorship a new Key. Sponsor was needed. The Young Scientists' Exhibition represented the lifestyles and thoughts of young people. That fitted the ideals of a new communications technology enterprise BT who sponsored YSTE since.
One does not always have to score goals to help teams win matches and BT brought the Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition a sense of fun. BT extended administration and revitalises publicity. Technology was introduced as a new category. Separate spaces made "hands on" interactive science available. BT also acted on research which had identified that teachers' involvement drives participation. Projects submitted though Irish are always welcomed and Foras Na Gaelige award a Special prize for the best project with potential submitted through the medium of Irish. In 2009 visitor numbers soared to an all time high at 37,400, as did entries at 1616.
BTYSTE assists personal development, team building, communication skills and social development. Students change from shy and quiet to having new confidence and maturity, a lasting experience. Public understanding of science, links between research science, technology, innovation and economic development are also facilitated. After forty years a growing there seems no reason why this trend should not continue into the twenty first century.