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Young Scientists aim for the top

7 January, 2009 - by Caitríona Ruane

Twenty six young aspiring scientists from the North have arrived at the RDS in Dublin for the annual BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition.

Sinn Féin Education Minister, Caitríona Ruane, attended the opening of the 45th Exhibition and viewed the vast range of projects submitted by the North's finalists.

Speaking at the event the Minister said:

"From climate change to colour changing chameleons, the North's science and technology finalist projects are dynamic, unique and fascinating. Seeing the projects first hand highlights the ability and skill of our young people, demonstrating that we must nurture and develop this talent in order to give them as many opportunities as possible.

"Getting young people to interact with science and technology helps make science relevant and fun as the young people learn through investigation and exploration into their surroundings. Schools from every part of this island have developed an impressive range of projects, showing a real understanding of the vital contribution science and technology makes to our lives.

"The importance of science cannot be understated; schools that prioritise science and technology in both their curriculum and extra-curricular activities will help us to create a workforce that can fill skills gaps in society, helping to drive our economy forward in these difficult times."

The young scientist exhibition is an all-Ireland competition with a record 1,616 projects entered for the 2009 competition. The North's projects relate to a range of topics such as hygiene, bacteria, robotics and plants. The Department of Education contributed £20,000 to the 2009 BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition.

The Minister continued: "Every county in the North is represented here at the exhibition after a dramatic increase of 25% in the number of projects entered. Over half of schools from the North that entered have made it through to the final, well above the average qualification rate of 30%.

"I would like to congratulate all the students and teachers, for the time and effort they have spent in putting together their entries. Particular congratulations and good luck to those teams and individuals here at the final."

The Department of Education and the Department for Employment and Learning are currently working with key industrialists, educational and public sector stakeholders to review science, technology, engineering and maths in schools and Further Education.

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