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Two lads from Cork have won this year's BT Young Scientists top award

Cormac Harris and Alan O’Sullivan won for their project on gender stereotyping in children.

LAST UPDATE | 10 Jan 2020

THE WINNERS OF this year’s BT Young Scientists’ Exhibition have been announced.

Cormac Harris and Alan O’Sullivan, both aged 16, fourth year students from Coláiste Choilm, Cork have won the top prize for their project entitled “a statistical investigation into the prevalence of gender stereotyping in 5-7 year olds and the development of an initiative to combat gender bias”.

The pair presented their project in the Intermediate section in the Social and Behavioural Sciences category.

Head judge Joe Barry said that the aim of the project was to determine how early gener stereotyping could be identified.

“The aim of Cormac and Alan’s project was to determine how early gender stereotyping can be identified,” he said. 

“They conducted workshops with 376 5-7 year olds from a range of school settings with a number of different tasks including: choosing between gender-specific and gender-neutral toys; drawing and naming an engineer, and; rating male and female competency at a number of gender-specific roles.”

In the study, 96% of boys drew a male engineer while just over 50% of girls drew a female engineer. The study found that gender stereotypes emerge early in young children and are particularly strong in boys.

Barry said: “The project is particularly impressive in that Cormac and Alan also created very pertinent and useable resources for primary school teachers to combat gender stereotyping among young children.”

The Cork pair take home the trophy in the 56th edition of the awards as well as a top prize of €7,500. 

They’ll represent Ireland at the European Union Contest for Young Scientists, which takes place in Santander, Spain in September 2020. The pair will also get to attend the 62nd Annual London International Youth Science Forum later in the year.

The award for individual winner went to Oscar Despard (17), a fifth year student from Sandford Park, Dublin, for his project on “Applying Data-Driven Experimental Analysis to the Irish Longitudinal Study on Aging”.

His project used data from a large database on Irish individuals to see if there was a correlation between blood levels and atrial fibrillation (AF).

This research showed an unexpected positive beneficial effect of a protein called LDL in reducing the risk of AF.

The group runners-up prize was awarded to Cathal O’Mara and James O’Malley, both aged 13, first year students at Castletroy College, Limerick for their project entitled “Bin Buddy – A SMART Sorting Bin”.

This project allows the sorting of waste into the correct bins through a sophisticated image recognition system.

The individual runner’s up was Ava Hynes. Aged 14, the second-year student at Coláiste Treasa, Cork completed her project entitled “A statistical analysis of the impact of adolescent smartphone use on adolescent social anxiety and social isolation”.

The project collected data from 792 12-19-year-old post-primary students looking at levels of social anxiety, social phobia and adolescent loneliness, in addition to smartphone usage.

The research determined that smartphone usage did have an impact on levels of social isolation and social phobia levels. 

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