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Young scientists of the future show their mettle at BT showpiece

Derek Baker, permanent secretary at the Department of Education, presents the BT Northern Ireland best project award to Izzy McConkey, Kerri-Melissa Burns and Sarah Scannell from South Eastern Regional College for their project ‘The effect of natural food extracts on insulin secretion from pancreatic cells’ in the biological and ecological senior group category at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition

NORTHERN Ireland students showed their mettle at the 55th BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition in Dublin, securing a number of category prizes.

The overall winner, though, was Adam Kelly (17), a fifth year student from Skerries Community College, in Dublin, for his project entitled 'Optimizing The Simulation Of General Quantum Circuits', which saw him claim the top prize of €7,500 and the BTYSTE perpetual trophy.

He will now represent Ireland at the European Union contest for young scientists in Bulgaria in September.

Northern Ireland students were also formally recognised at the awards ceremony.

Beating off stiff competition, Izzy McConkey, Kerri-Melissa Burns and Sarah Scannell from South Eastern Regional College in Lisburn picked up the BT Northern Ireland Best Project for their entry ‘The effects of natural food extracts on insulin secretion from pancreatic cells'.

The project also received first place (senior group) in the biological and ecological category. In addition, South Eastern Regional College also scooped the BT Best School in Northern Ireland Award.

Oran Timoney from Holy Cross College in Strabane was recognised, receiving the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland Award for his project ‘Categorising CVD patient risk using machine learning tools' which was entered in the chemical, physical and mathematical sciences category.

Other awards presented to Northern Ireland schools included:

• Maeve Stillman from St Mary's College in Co Derry received third place (intermediate individual) in the chemical, physical and mathematical sciences category for her project ‘Investigating the effect of activated charcoal on the absorbance of a range of medicines'.

• John McElhone and Michael McLaughlin from St Mary's Grammar in Magherafelt were recognised in the technology category, receiving second place (senior group) for their project ‘CropSafe – Redefining the future of agriculture today'.

• Ava Canney from St Mary's College in Derry was highly commended for her project ‘Investigating a method that can be used to determine the active ingredients in medications using 2 homemade spectrophotometers' in the chemical, physical and mathematical sciences category.

• Jordan Stafford from South Eastern Regional College in Bangor was highly commended in the biological and ecological category for an ‘Investigation into the growth of algae for bio-fuel use'.

Shay Walsh, managing director at BT Ireland, said: “For 55 years the exhibition has shown the ingenuity of Ireland's youth, and this year is no exception. The students at BTYSTE have sought creative and innovative solutions to some of the world's most pressing issues, and that spirit and drive is to be commended.

"We say 'It Starts Here' at the BTYSTE and it really is only the beginning. From the young students involved in the primary science fair to secondary students at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition, it is vitally important that every student's voyage of discovery does not end here.”

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