Every January for more than a decade it has become an annual event for students of Lanesboro Community College to make the trip up to the RDS to take part in the premier science event in Ireland. The BT Young Scientist brings together the brightest and the best to compete for the prizes and awards and of course for the ‘buzz’ of displaying and explaining your project to literally thousands of people!
As a school we are committed to participating in this event because if affords our students an opportunity to ‘do’ science. From early September they are busy working on their ideas for a project; brainstorming, researching, contacting experts for advice and designing experiments. It is exciting and challenging and demands that each student takes responsibility for their own research, their own learning. At this stage they must send in an application which is quite extensive. They are ‘selling’ their idea and making their ‘pitch’ to be part of the exhibition itself. Of the 2000 plus applications last year only 500 make the ‘cut’ so it is an achievement to be part of the exhibition itself.
Why do our students and teachers put in the enormous amount of time and effort involved? Students speak of a sense of achievement and success; of presenting something that they have created themselves….something they can be proud of.
Teachers understand that this an outstanding way of engaging students with STEM. Students don’t see that they are doing subjects…they see themselves as doing Science!
Our school uses the BT Young Scientist as a platform for our young people to share, explore, learn and engage in STEM and to grow in confidence and sense of self-worth.
This year, in Lanesboro Community College, students from 1st, 2nd and 4th year worked hard on their applications with 4 projects making it through to the exhibition. This alone is an outstanding achievement. We would like to salute both the students and teachers who put so much effort and energy into those applications. The students and projects that made it through were:
Brian Lyons; ‘For behind the parent stood the school and behind the teacher the home’ – Does parental involvement in education improve academic outcomes?
Rebeka Stavuse and Oran Walton; Relaxation techniques vs drugs: a safer way to get to sleep
Conor Walton, Chloe Kenny,Jeffrey Kok and Evan Tynan; Development of a risk model to determine the expansion and potential environmental impacts of Asian clams in lower Lough Ree
Mark Lyons; €2.50 too much? – A statistical analysis of the effect of the GMS fee
Since mid-October the four finalists worked on their projects, linking in with the top experts in Universities and Colleges, here and abroad. After the Christmas exams while the rest of us watch Christmas movies the Young Scientists are busy writing (and re writing ) reports, designing displays and perfecting their ‘pitch’ The big day comes too soon…always a bit of last minute panic (even after doing it for over a decade!) and then we are there! Once the Opening ceremony is over the 1st judges arrive and you are on a rollercoaster for the next 3 days. It is a life changing experience for any young person and life affirming for the teachers as we see our students grow in confidence and enthusiasm as the week progress.
We are so proud of all our students and how hard they worked to get here but special mention must go to the 4th years who were highly commended for their project and to Mark Lyons who won first in his category. Correct me if I am wrong but I believe that is the best that any school in Co. Longford has done in well over a decade. It is heartening to see that ETB schools are competing with the fee paying schools across the country and winning the top prizes and the future is indeed bright for Lanesboro Community College as we continue to forge ahead.
I cannot finish without paying tribute to the enormous effort put in by all the teachers who worked with and supported these students in order to make this possible. A special mention for the parents who ferried students to and fro at all sorts of unsociable hours and gave a lot of encouragement behind the scenes, and of course our principal, Mr. Flanagan who always wholeheartedly encourages and endorses our annual BT efforts!
Already looking forward to 2016!