BT Young Scientist Exhibition (henceforth abbreviated into BTYSTE) is a large scale science exhibition in Ireland, and it is a platform for high school students to innovate, create and explore. As the BTYSTE website described, it is an unforgettable experience of a lifetime for the students who take part. And I completely agree with in this statement, in the two times I participated, I went home each time with a completely different perspective to the STEM field, as well as the potential young people can have.
The exhibition has two parts, in the fist part students interested has to enter a one page proposal and some more information onto the website, and those projects that qualifies would be able to compete in the final round, where students would be able to display their project and have the opportunity of communicating with other students with their unique ideas.
In the preparation stage one has to write a project report (Hard work there! So time consuming and my experience is that it is even easier to do the project than writing out the report), a project diary and design a poster. The day before the exhibition, students go to the big exhibition arena to set up. The time is needed as some projects require large machines or different demonstration props. and then comes the hardest and most exciting part: the exhibition itself!
The most daunting part, of course, is the judging. There are at least three rounds of judging for each project, and the presentation of your project to the judges can have equal importance as your project report. The project book shows all the details and your scientific knowledge, but the presentation gives an outline and shows your passions. A good presentation can be absolutely crucial to the evaluation of the project, and I personally found it so much harder than I thought it would be because you will have no clue where to start and if you does not have it planned beforehand the result can be a quite disorganised speech!
The exhibition is also a test for persistence. I have chatted to a participant who, every day after returning home from the exhibition, would carefully analyse how he did in his presentation today, and consider if there are any flaws to his project and if there is room for improvement. Then he would do more research and add in more details to his project. He did this to the very last day, and his hard work also paid off in the end, he got home on the last day finally relieved and holding a wonderful prize.
Of course, the prizes aren’t everything, the most exciting part is to be able to chat with other people. I cannot describe the motivation I felt after talking to amazing people my age, seeing their ability, and getting to know what I can work towards. It is also eye-opening to hear about their creative ideas.
Talking to the people who came to visit is also a tremendous joy, there are all sorts of people who come around and ask you the most amazing questions. There are people who are experts in the field and would throw you off guard with a detailed technological inquiry. There are people who are genuinely interested and would listen to you talk without end, and there are people who understand you and would discuss in detail with you the potential of the project. It is wonderful to get your ideas heard and appreciated. Sometimes, even crazier things happen, such as a job proposal, or a trade of name cards. These conversations can sometimes lead to more amazing adventures, and for ambitious people like us, there’s nothing more thrilling!
All in all, it is a wonderful experience that leaves you smiling when you remember it, and it cracks opens doors into worlds you have never explored before. I cannot but think what a marvellous thing it is, for a high school student to be able to take part and experience such an event. It might just change a life or two.