John White, Science Teacher from St Vincent’s Secondary School, Dundalk tells us about his experiences of the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition

Posted: January 15, 2010 in Uncategorized

This is St. Vincent’s Secondary School’s fifth year in a row to submit projects for the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition and this year we have eight projects in the final.

Of the eight projects, four of them are from students in my class and we have worked together on the projects since July this year. The students are all busy with their normal school work and their lives outside of school so we worked on the projects after school, at weekends and during the holidays to ensure they were ready for the exhibition.

The ideas for the projects all came from the students themselves who were inspired by things from school, sports and their social lives. The badminton project in the Chemical, Physical & Mathematical Sciences category was thought up by one of my students who is on the under 16s Leinster badminton team and wanted to improve her serve. The two projects in the Social and Behavioural Sciences category were again thought up by the students and relate to very different subject areas; the first was research done in conjunction with St. Mary’s School for the Deaf on how to improve speech therapy using an oscilloscope to display sound waves in a visual format. The second project attempted to determine if younger audiences have become desensitised to graphic violence on television. The fourth project came about as a result of a video I showed the class on parasites that live on the human body and the group investigated the behaviour of parasites called ‘Sticklebacks’ in local rivers.

The BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition is a great opportunity for students to see science and technology in action, they also get a real kick from the responses of other students and visitors to their projects. Tomorrow, a bus load of students from St. Vincent’s will arrive to see the exhibition and cheer on their class mates. We have had loads of interest in the projects this year with many of the other students monitoring the progress of the work. In the past it may have been seen as a little ‘nerdy’ or ‘geeky’, but that is not the case anymore as science and technology have become ‘cool’. Anyone with a good idea and a bit of help and support can take part in the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition and really benefit from it, as it’s not just the domain of the ‘straight A’ student.

The key to a successful project is advance planning. Pick a topic early in the year, get started on the project as quickly as possible and leave plenty of time to develop the concept and complete the project. This year, the students and I consulted via email and online and we saved a lot of time. It is really important for the students to be responsible for selecting the topic and doing the work as it is the ‘BT Young Scientist’ not ‘old scientist’!

It is also essential for schools to support students with their projects. Our school management is fantastic and they have made it possible for all the science teachers to accompany the students to the exhibition which really means a lot to everyone.

I am extremely proud of all the students who are taking part this year and I know they have all worked very hard to get this far. If any of the projects from St. Vincent’s Secondary School won the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition it would amazing for the students and would do wonders for the promotion of science and technology in the school and the whole town.

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