Skip to main content

BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition Mentoring

Since the first BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition in 1963, each year students across Ireland demonstrate their passion and innovation for the field of science and technology, often being early investigators for topics such as climate change and gender equality. The School of Applied Psychology is committed to ‘Giving Psychology Away’ and supporting the psychologists of the future! Many of our colleagues have been involved in mentoring BT Young Scientist students who are undertaking projects in Social and Behavioural Research. We are delighted to continue to mentor students across the country each year, to support students to form their ideas, gather data and evaluate their findings.

We are also working on resources for students and teachers that will be updated regularly here.  If you, or your students, would like to get in touch regarding mentorship please contact Dr. Sarah Foley at

For more information on the first BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition see the official website:

Current Projects

PhD Students Éadaoin Whelan and Siobhán Thomas are currently working with students to complete their entries for the 2021 Exhibition.

Éadaoin is mentoring Áine Teape, a TY student in St Brogan's College, Bandon:

Áine's project is focused on sleep in adolescence, and so far we have developed and piloted a survey to address knowledge and experiences of sleep in 15-17 year olds. I have guided Aine throughout the planning phase of her project, and the next step is to record sleep diaries, followed by the development of an education based intervention to inform TY students of 'good sleep hygiene' and provide them with skills and support to achieve this

Siobhán is advising a group of students from Coláiste Treasa this year and is passionate about mentoring:

The students were inspired by the growing discourse around racial discrimination and the project looks at experiences of racism among ethnic minority adolescents in Ireland. It will examine how racism is experienced in Ireland and how experiences may differ between people living in rural versus urban areas…. Mentoring a group of students who are so interested in psychology and in applying the research process to tackle important social issues is such a rewarding experience for me. Having the opportunity to mentor young nascent researchers by sharing my knowledge of and passion for psychological research is a fulfilling experience but it's also been very illuminating for myself as a researcher, as it's given me the chance to hear fresh new perspectives and ideas related to research in this area. I'm looking forward to seeing how the project develops and how the students evolve as researchers

Previous Projects

Cormac Harris and Alan O'Sullivan - The 56th winners of BTYSTE

Mentors    Dr Samantha Dockray (senior lecturer) and Éadaoin Whelan (PhD Student)

Project Title    '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 project itself aimed to discover how early gender stereotyping could be identified, and data was gathered from workshops involving a total of 376, 5-7 year old primary school children. Dr Dockray and Éadaoin Whelan advised the winners on their planned analysis using SPSS statistical software. The project was highly commended for the standard of analysis used. In the history of BTYSTE, this has been only the third behavioural science project to win first prize. It also highlighted the early presence of gender differences, particularly in relation to STEM subjects, and addressed the need for more initiatives to target existing gender biases.

Holly Butler and Emma Murphy, Coláiste Choilm, Cork

Mentors    Dr Annalisa Setti (Lecturer)

This experiment found memory for events is impaired when we take photos instead of observing (e.g. at concerts) but that participants were not aware of this effect.

Holly and Emma were highly praised by the judges for their work.

Keri, Brian and Hazel, Coláiste Choilm, Cork

Mentors    Dr Gillian Murphy

The project aimed to test the claims of extra-sensory perception (ESP) put forth by controversial parapsychologist Rupert Sheldrake in his book 'The Sense of Being Stared At'.

In a survey, they found that people report that they notice being stared at in day-to-day life. Their first experiment (conducted in the window of Starbucks in Opera Lane) supported this, showing that passers-by were much more likely to look in the window when they were being stared at. However, under controlled experimental conditions (a randomised, concealed viewing experiment), participants were unable to detect when someone was looking at them, even when that person was their own identical twin. It seems that we cannot sense being stared at, but probably use our peripheral visual system to detect the gaze of others.

Their work shows the importance of fighting pseudo-scientific claims with evidence and we were delighted to see them awarded 3rd place in the Behavioural Science category.

Abbey, Aoife and Ailish, Coláiste Treasa, Cork

Mentors    Dr Sarah Foley

Project Title    What do you think of me?

In their Project ‘What do you think of me’ the team conducted an intervention study on intergenerational engagement between secondary school students and local retirement groups. They conducted an statistical analysis of the students perceptions and attitudes of ageing before and after the intervention. The result indicated that time spent with older people can impact positive perceptions of ageing and older people.

The team came 3rd in their category and won the UCD Social Sciences award out of all the social and behavioural category.

Sarah Murphy, Coláiste Treasa, Cork

Mentors    Owen Jump and Ester Purkiss (PhD Students)

This project examined 'ugly' fruit and vegetables. Products that don't meet conventional cosmetic standards (shape, colour, size, etc.) are often discarded and contribute to our enormous global food waste, but is it necessary to do so? Do consumers care?

Sarah found that while producers believed Irish consumers would not purchase misshapen fruit and veg, consumers were generally very positive about 'ugly' products, especially students. There was no effect of gender, employment status or weekly grocery spending on attitudes towards ugly fruit and veg.

Congratulations to Sarah who received a Highly Commended award for her project at BTYSTE 2018.


Maeve O'Connor and Aoidhe Sheil, Coláiste Treasa, Cork

Mentors    Ester Purkiss and Jessica O'Brien (PhD Students)

Maeve and Aoidhe came first in their category and won the Hewlett Packard prize for their project at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition. The students developed an app to combat feelings of isolation and loneliness; the app is called “The Friendly Farmer”. Maeve and Aoidhe collaborated on the statistical analysis with Esther Purkiss and Jessica O'Brien, PhD researchers in SoAP.

Conleth Aspell, Coláiste Treasa, Cork

Mentors    Shane Galvin and Ester Purkiss (PhD Students)

Conleth came third in an extremely competitive category with a project on parenting and its effect on teenage mental health and academic achievement.


Molly Browne and Sinead Moynihan, Coláiste Treasa, Cork

Mentors    Dr Lisa Murphy and Dr Gillian Murphy

Project Title    Breaking down the barriers in STEM: A quantitative study of the effect of female role models in science on females choosing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) subjects in second level education

They found that male students reported significantly more sexist views of women in science. While a visit from a guest speaker (biochemist) did not affect sexist attitudes, female (but not male) TY students reported a significantly stronger intention to take Chemistry as a Leaving Certificate subject one week after the talk. The gender of the speaker had no effect on subject-choice intention, though females found the female speaker more enjoyable. This suggests that guest speakers may be an effective method to encourage women to pursue science subjects at second-level. The team were awarded 1st Place Winners, Intermediate Behavioural Science Category + winners of the Irish Science Teachers' Association award.

Ellen Dineen, Rachel O'Sullivan and Ciara Walsh, Sacred Heart Secondary School, Clonakilty, Cork

Mentors    Dr Lisa Murphy and Dr Gillian Murphy

Project Title    Too Mobile to Sleep: An investigation into the effect late night screen use (tablets and mobile phones) has on your memory

This project investigated the effect of secondary school students’ screen use on memory retention. Over 200 students downloaded an app called Moment, which recorded when they used their phones at night. Their findings showed that late night screen time significantly worsened memory for a picture recall test and an eyewitness task.


Rhian Dawkins, Faustina Sheehan & Abbie O’Sullivan, Coláiste Choilm

Project Title    A statistical comparison of the carbon footprint of foods across 3 economic levels, 3 different diets, and the development of an app to calculate food miles of a range of products

This project examined the carbon footprint of three diets- carnivore, vegetarian and vegan- and discovered that buying local and seasonal makes the biggest impact. The study found that consumers were more likely to shop locally if air miles were labelled on food packaging.


School of Applied Psychology

Síceolaíocht Fheidhmeach

Cork Enterprise Centre, North Mall, Cork.,