Over two thirds (67%) of secondary school students in Ireland are interested in learning more about pursuing a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). Everything in STEM starts with an idea, and when students are not considering what career path they might take, they are generating their own ideas, either with friends (51%), in bed (34%) and even in the shower (19%). That’s according to a study of 500 secondary school students in Ireland, conducted by BT Ireland to examine their attitudes towards STEM as well as where and how they generate their best ideas.
BT Ireland is delighted to announce that applications are now officially open for the 60th BTYSTE, which will take place from January 10th to 13th 2024. With the research revealing that there is an abundance of ideas amongst secondary school students, BT Ireland is encouraging them to turn their creativity into project entries before the deadline on October 2nd 2023.
The BTYSTE, which annually shines a light on STEM research and innovation, will showcase project entries from students in the categories of Technology, Social and Behavioural Science, Biological and Ecological Science, Chemical, Physical, and Mathematical Science, as well as in a brand-new category being introduced for the 60th BTYSTE, Health and Wellbeing. The Health and Wellbeing category aims to promote research and innovation in areas related to human health, medical advancements, nutrition, exercise, and overall wellbeing. Students who have a project idea in any of these areas are encouraged to apply for one of the leading school STEM exhibitions in Europe.
There are over 200 prizes to be won and a prize fund of €50,000 for BTYSTE 2024. These prizes are awarded across all five categories and age groups, including the overall BT Young Scientist & Technologist of the Year Award, worth €7,500, which will see the winners go on to represent Ireland at the prestigious European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS). Ireland has a strong record of taking home the prize for first place at the EUCYS, with 17 wins over the past 33 years.
While almost half (48%) have considered a career in STEM, more specifically science (44%), engineering (38%), technology (24%) and mathematics (16%), others are held back from exploring it further. Not thinking they are smart enough (33%), a lack of confidence (18%) and not enough information on the benefits of a career in STEM (18%) are among the most common reasons why. The BTYSTE gives entrants more exposure to STEM and the chance to demonstrate their creativity. The event also provides students with an incredible opportunity to further develop critical skills such as collaboration, research and analysis, and problem solving that will be valuable in all walks of life.
Secondary school students turn to their parents for career advice (38%), and of the 500 parents of secondary school students that were polled for the BT Ireland study, 78% believe that exposing their children to STEM subjects benefits them, and over 4 in 5 (83%) are likely to recommend a career in STEM to their children. Many students learn more about STEM through the ideas that they generate, and while 63% are confident they can turn their ideas into a reality, 42% fear they will fail. Over half (58%) of parents say their children have admitted to them that they have been nervous / hesitant to share their ideas with their classmates / friends. Over a third (35%) feel their children find it challenging to come up with ideas as they don’t know enough about how to turn them into a reality.
For 60 years, the BTYSTE has provided incredible opportunities for participants, with many seeing their ideas from the exhibition being turned into a reality. Lots of the alumni have gone on to have successful STEM careers as academics, engineers, scientists, researchers, and entrepreneurs to name just a few, blazing a trail around the world. BT Ireland is encouraging students aged 12-19 years to share their ideas with others and enter the BTYSTE 2024. Entrants are asked to fill out an online application form and submit a one-page proposal outlining their idea – it’s that simple! Qualified entries will be announced at the end of October and will be showcased at BTYSTE 2024 in January.
Speaking ahead of the deadline for entries, Mari Cahalane, head of the BTYSTE at BT Ireland, said, “For 60 years now, secondary school students who have participated in the BTYSTE have generated incredibly creative and successful ideas and innovations that have positioned Ireland as a leader in STEM. For students today, our research shows that most are interested in STEM which is really encouraging for the future of Ireland’s economy and society, but many feel they need opportunities and resources to learn more about it. “This year sees the launch of a new category, Health and Wellbeing, which we hope will encourage yet more young people to get involved in BTYSTE. The BTYSTE provides a platform for students to get involved in STEM, and by entering, not only will they learn critical skills that will last a lifetime, but also that their ideas could help change the world for the better.”
Pictured L-R Alison Meyler (13) Basil Amin (14) and Lily-May Ennis (13) at the announcement that applications are now open for the 2024 BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE). Pic Credit: Naoise Culhane