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At the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition 2018, Eoin Sheridan, a 2nd year student from Gallen Community School, Co Offaly, won the BT Special Award for Research and Innovation in the Built Environment, presented by the Irish Architecture Foundation. He also won second place in the Junior Individual Technology category with the same project, ‘A solar thermal collector efficiency measurement device and analysis’. Eoin designed a device which could measure the efficacy of domestic solar panels and an app that would enable users to monitor the performance of their solar panels from their phone. As Eoin told us, ‘I wanted to investigate the efficacy of the solar panels on our own home in Offaly. After testing with this device I am pleased to report they are as good as they were when they were installed fourteen years ago. I feel solar panels are not used as much as they should be and I hope my device will give people the confidence to use them more.’
It was notable that quite a number of high achieving projects at the BTYSTE took a look at the built environment through research or the invention of new tools and apparatuses. 1st year Cavan student Aimee Reilly established the positive effects of an awareness campaign on safe and correct use of the roundabouts in her local town, winning third place in the Junior Individual Social & Behavioural Sciences category, while Michael Lough of Scoil Mhuire gan Smál, Roscommon, came third in the Intermediate Individual Social & Behavioural Sciences category for his research into attitudes to public green space in rural Irish towns, focussing on use of parks in Longford Town. Danielle Greasley and Jenny Seery spent a number of years measuring CO2 levels in the classrooms of their school, Athlone Community College, and established the effects high CO2 levels have on memory and retention among students, winning second place in the Intermediate Group Chemical, Physical & Mathematical Sciences category.
Projects such as one looking at how quality of life changes when moving from urban to rural environments by students at Cork’s Coláiste Choilm and an analysis of the Cycle to Work scheme by a group from Kinsale Community College were Highly Commended in their categories, while an analysis of air movement in urban environments and what skyscraper typologies create or alleviate wind tunnels by students from St Fintan’s High School in Dublin also caught our eye! Showing the impact of rigorous research into a topical area, the runner up BT Young Scientist and Technologist of the Year, Claire Gregg from Loreto College St Stephen’s Green, undertook an analysis of the housing shortage in Ireland using agent-based modelling.
The Irish Architecture Foundation has contributed to the BTYSTE for two years now, presenting one of the exhibition’s Special Awards and participating in the exhibition too, supported by the Government Policy on Architecture 2009-2015, of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. We were joined by staff from the architecture schools at UCD, DIT, UCC, WIT and Queens to share information with students about studying architecture in Ireland. We also used the walls of our stand as a visual survey, asking visiting and exhibiting students to tell us what they think of the places and spaces they spend time in, what they see the role of architecture being in Ireland, and who they think has the most important role in shaping our built environment. We asked three multiple choice questions and students stickered their preferences, with the walls of our stand gradually filling with almost 6000 stickers over the course of the exhibition. 2000 students ranging from 5 to 18 took part in our survey, and here are the results:
What spaces inspire you?
Learning spaces: 246
Cultural spaces: 341
Natural spaces: 838
How can architecture transform Ireland for the better?
By creating more cultural and community spaces: 295
By providing better parks and open spaces: 332
By using sustainable materials and methods: 436
By building more homes: 812
Who has the power to transform our places and spaces?
Builders and property developers: 105
Architects and designers: 314
Government, local council and politicians: 774