By Madeline O’Connor
IRELAND’S BT Young Scientist of the Year competition has been won by Dublin teen Paul Clarke.
A fifth year student from St Paul’s College, Raheny, Paul won the 50th edition of the annual school’s competition for his project, ‘Contributions to cyclic graph theory’.
Nearly 1,165 students from 32 counties, covering 550 projects from 210 schools across the country competed for the prestigious title. Their projects ranged from social analysis to physics experiments to how grass grows.
Paul, 17, was entered in the senior section of the Chemical, Physical and Mathematical Sciences category. As the winner, he was given a cheque for €5,000, the chance to represent Ireland at the 26th European Union Young Scientist competition in September and a shiny trophy.
Paul has also won a trip to Silicon Valley in California, home to some of the world’s biggest technology corporations, where he will meet BT’s Innovation team, and be given a tour of the top firms and meet business leaders in the fields of science and technology.
Special guest at the Dublin ceremony was astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield, who tweeted about his involvement from the International Space station.
Colm O’Neill, CEO, BT Ireland said, “Over the past three days we have had some of Ireland’s brightest, most creative and positive young people astound us with their ideas for a better future and we have been greatly impressed by the high standard of these entries.”
Speaking about Paul’s entry judge Professor Tom Laffey said: “Graph theory is an area of pure mathematics which studies properties of linkages and networks. It has applications in several areas including computing, molecular structure, neuroscience, search engines, engineering etc.
“In this project Paul makes a profound contribution to the study of graphs. He identifies key concepts and provides the methodology to apply them to some long-standing major problems in the subject with great success.”
The Best Group award went to first year students Cathy Hynes,12, and Eve Casey,13, from Kinsale Community School, Cork for the project “A study using statistical methods of people’s attitudes to the aging workforce of the future”.
The award for individual runner-up went to second year student Shane Curran,13, from Terenure College, Dublin for his project “Chemical.io: The cloud based lab management solution”.
The group runner-up prize went to Conor Gillardy, 15, Evan Heneghan, 16 and Calum Kyne also 16 from St. Gerald’s College, Mayo with ‘Gumshield communication device for managers and players’.