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21 January 2015 

Students scoop BT Young Scientist & Technology award for acclaimed drinking habits study

BTYSE winners

Two students, Ian O’Sullivan and Eimear Murphy, both aged 16, from Cork in Ireland have taken home the top prize at the 51st BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition.

Their project, ‘Alcohol consumption: Does the apple fall far from the tree?’ studies hazardous drinking by teenagers. It aims to identify a link with the drinking habits of the teenager’s parents as well as the parents’ attitudes to their children’s drinking.

The students discovered that teenagers whose parents believe that it is acceptable for their children to drink alcohol on special occasions are up to four times more likely to engage in hazardous drinking than other adolescents.

Reducing the risk

They also discovered that fathers’ drinking levels were a major factor in teenagers’ excessive drinking. Fathers’ attitudes to alcohol are crucial in shaping drinking of both boys and girls, but if mothers disapprove of their teenagers drinking, this can halve their risk of hazardous drinking.

Speaking about the winning entry, judge, Professor Ian Robertson, said: “The message from this research can help shape family alcohol behaviour in a very positive way into the future.”

Colm O’Neill, chief executive, BT Ireland said, “Every year the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition captures the public’s imagination by demonstrating the creativity, ingenuity and potential of our young people.”

Bright young things

He added: “We have had some of Ireland’s brightest, hard-working and positive young people inspire us with their ideas. This exhibition continues to be the showcase for our next generation of entrepreneurs, academics, scientists and technologists - minds that will tackle and solve some of the most challenging issues facing our planet.”

Ian and Eimear were presented with a cheque for €5,000, the opportunity to represent Ireland at the 27th European Union Young Scientist competition taking place in September in Milan and the BTYSTE perpetual trophy.

In addition, they will receive an all-expenses paid trip to London to go behind the scenes at the state of the art BT Sport studios, take in a Premier League game and also do a tour of the BT Information Age exhibit at the London Science Museum.

Around 1,200 students from across the island of Ireland covering 550 projects from 206 schools competed for the coveted title ‘Winners of the 2015 BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition’.

The award for Best Individual which went to Rachael Ni Dhonnachadha, aged 16, and a fifth year student from St Vincent’s Secondary School, Dundalk, Co Louth, for her project “Brap: Boxers handwrap, preventing wrist injury in boxing."