Celebrations in Croom as Coláiste Chiaráin BT Young Scientist winner brings home the gold

Sean O'Sullivan, Overall Winner of the BT Young Scientist being welcomed back to Coláiste Chiaráin Secondary School, Croom Photo: Brendan Gleeson.

COLÁISTE Chiaráin was the scene of jubilant celebrations this morning (January 15) as the whole school community gathered to celebrate Seán O’Sullivan, the overall winner of the 2024 BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE).

The fifth year student was crowned the overall winner of the prestigious science exhibition for his project ‘VerifyMe: A new approach to authorship attribution in the post-ChatGPT era‘.

The entire school community, as well as local dignitaries and family and friends, gathered together to welcome Seán and a number of other successful Coláiste Chairáin BTYSTE winners home.

Speaking to the Limerick Post, Seán said that he was “forever grateful” for the win and that the feeling of winning hadn’t quite sunk in.

“The standard this year has been the best I have ever seen at BT, especially in my technology category, and I’m forever grateful for the judges, they’re incredibly kind and it’s been an incredible experience,” he said.

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“I didn’t expect to win, the projects at BT this year, I know I keep on repeating it, but they were of an incredible standard and I’m forever grateful.”

This isn’t Seán’s first time competing in the BTYSTE, having taken part three times previously and taking home third place last year in the Intermediate Individual category.

The fifth year student says that, after he completes his leaving certificate exams, he plans to stay in the area of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and maths).

“I think that’s the direction I’d like to continue in, especially with ChatGPT and its recent developments. I believe all generative AI is on an exponential curve of development and it is going to be very interesting to see where it goes,” he said.

Seán wasn’t the only Coláiste Chiaráin student coming home in glory though, with Taha Njie and Aidan Oscar returning with the Analog Devices Technology Award for their project ‘PORTANOS – Portable, Extensible Diagnostics: An affordable 3D-printed ECG machine that delivers reliable cardiac monitoring‘.

Winner of the Analog Devices Technology Award – Aidan Oscar and Taha Njie from Coláiste Chiarain in Croom, Co. Limerick, for their project PORTANOS. Photo: Paul Sherwood

Coláiste Chiaráin also won Best School in the Republic of Ireland, a Gold Partner Award, 1st Senior Group Technology Category, ATU Award Technology, and Highly Commended Technology.

School principal, and proud father of winner Seán, Ger O’Sullivan told the Limerick Post that the school’s success this year is a testament to its focus on STEM subjects.

“We have a deliberate vision, a focus on STEM, on innovation, technology, all that that brings, our curriculum is designed that way. We’re the only school in the country where our junior students spend two classes a week at junior cycle in a STEM course – it’s mandatory, I introduced it in 2018,” he explained.

“Not because we want to force people to be engineers, but what we want to do in any good school is to give students a chance to find their passion, and more importantly have an environment the nurtures it and gives them a chance to shine.”

Coláiste Chiaráin science teacher and BTYSE mentor Edel Farrell accepted the prize for the Best School in the Republic of Ireland and told the Limerick Post that she felt “euphoric” and was incredibly proud of all the students achievements.

Paul Crone, Director NAPD presents the award for the best school in the Republic of Ireland to Edel Farrell on behalf of Colaiste Chiarain, Limerick. Photo: Fennell Photography.

“I’m so happy, I’m euphoric, and I’m so so proud of all the students. They worked so hard towards this, they put in hours and hours and hours of work and I’m just delighted,” she said.

“STEM is a passion of mine and I’ve been taking part in the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition for a number of years. When the STEM short course was introduced for everybody up to third year, I was delighted because you get to expose students to more than just the science that they have to learn for the junior cert, or engineering, you get to get them involved in more creative projects and to stretch themselves and investigate things that they wouldn’t have done otherwise.”

Seán will now go on to represent Ireland at the European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS), taking place in Katowice, Poland.

The last time a Limerick student won the BTYSTE was in 2005 when Patrick Collison took home the top prize. Mr Collison went on to co-found payments company Stripe with his brother John, growing the company into a multi-billion euro company.

Overall in Limerick there were nine winners this year, with Coláiste Nano Nagle, Salesian Secondary College, Desmond College, and Scoil Pól coming home with awards from Dublin’s RDS.

Therese Gunning, BT Ireland presents the 3rd Intermediate Individual Award in the Health & Wellbeing Category to Sadie Loftus, Salesian Secondary College Limerick for the project ‘An investigation into the use of external electrical stimulation in the treatment and management of Raynaud’s disease with an analysis of the impact of this disease on the diagnosed population’. Photo: Fennell Photography.

Salesian Secondary College’s Sadie Loftus returned this year, with a win in the Presentation category for her project investigating the use of external electrical stimulation in the treatment and management of Raynaud’s disease. She Salesian student also won the Alexian Award at last year’s event.

Projects from Castletroy College and Coláiste Chiaráin were also highly commended by the judges.