Thursday, 21 January 2016

BT Young Scientist 2016

I recently attended the Friday and Saturday of the BTYSTE 2016 and had a grand old time altogether. On the Friday I went up with the students from my school I'd mentored (Aoife, Ameerah, Charley and Anna) for their last day of judging and some banter.

I saw Renuka from BT Business Bootcamp with another cancer project and heard her talk about it. It was definitely complicated but really cool. She ended up getting two well-deserved prizes - Runner-Up Individual and Best Biological Project. 

Saw Sonia from Outbox Incubator with a Social and Behavioural project 

Saw Aoife, also from Outbox Incubator, with a project in the Technology section that keeps drivers awake in an effort to combat driver fatigue. That was awesome, and it was so good to see Mother Aoife again. 

Saw Emily from Bootcamp with "Nurse Nappy", a nappy with a thermometer to see if a baby is sick. 

Thought this project was really cool and super-duper technical - "A system enhanced app for improved two-factor authentication". She had her own server(s) under the desk. Wat. (Okay I know nothing about the technical side of computers, shh).

The next one I saw that I liked was "A Mathematical Model of Coffee Rust" by Gabriel Barat and Adrian Wolniak. It was funny, because they assumed I didn't know calculus and I had to be like "uh, guys". They were really lovely though and I'm glad they won Best Group and the Intel award for best Chemical, Physical, Mathematical project. 

Another of my favourites was "A structural analysis of antimalarial molecules from natural sources". The idea behind the project was really cool, the girl was lovely and she explained it so well. I think she won the Eli Lilly award for Chemistry and a category award. Definitely something that piqued my interest. 

I met up with Gabi and Ciara J then and traipsed around as Gabi got people to take photos with the Project Zilkr sign. 

After that, I talked to a guy with another cool project, this one Social and Behavioural. In "Perception: Can Our Senses Be Manipulated?" he and the other guy on his team who wasn't there at the time did experiments to show that many different senses including hearing and taste can be manipulated. He said that sight seems to be the dominant sense that overrules others, which was interesting and makes sense. 

Gabi, Luke, Leia, Tina and a bunch of other people went with me to the rocket science show after that. It was awesome. Look how eager Luke is to be picked (he wasn't). 

Here's Charley and Anna in front of their project with the Zilkr sign. 

That evening, I couldn't get into the actual arena (not a participant this year sadly) so I watched and livetweeted the livestream of the awards. My iPad died right before the winner was announced because of course it did. 

The Young Scientists, MOR and I went out for dinner then rushed to get the train back to Drogheda at 11.30. 


On Saturday I got some sleep then went in around 11.30 and chatted to Karen from IV and saw some other friends. I talked to this guy from ICHEC (Irish Centre for High-End Computing) - that was really cool. We discussed why you'd use C (or C# or C+ or C++, I forget) instead of Python for writing certain big programs. Bluffed my way through that with my very limited programming knowledge but it was enjoyable. 

Here are Gabi and Ben being adorable with the Zilkr sign. 

I gave Jerry and Chloe complimentary tickets so we hung out in the Industry Hall, collecting freebies and doing an Intel cryptography challenge. Jerry is too good at them. 

Some squad bants before we all left and the Exhibition was over (I went back to Ben's afterwards). The end of the Exhibition is always so bittersweet. Great show, lads. 

Sunday, 3 January 2016

2015 Review

I can't believe it's been a year since I wrote the 2014 review, and it's really strange to think that this time next year I'll have finished the Leaving Cert and will be in college and everything will be so very different. What an enormous and incredible year this has been. 


The year started well with a lovely day out in Dublin with Ciarán and Seán during which I finished the final book in the Skulduggery Pleasant series that had been an important part of my early adolescence. Tip: it's a bad idea to attempt shopping on New Year's Day. Almost nothing is open. 

But January was really all about the Young Scientist Exhibition. I'd worked really hard on my project titled (something along the lines of) To develop and functionalise a graphene-based biosensor to detect high-grade gliomas for a year, so this was hugely important to me and seemed very very high-stakes. I had a fantastic time talking to the first winner of the exhibition, John Monahan, got to hang out with a bunch of friends on the Saturday, and ended up winning 3rd in my category and the Intellectual Ventures Insightful Invention award for Best Invention (phew, capitals), which included mentoring at IV and a trip to Seattle. 

I also had a parent-teacher meeting in January, where I was informed that the teachers were well aware I wasn't studying and given a kick up the butt to work harder.


Very little happened in February, to be honest. It started off with the Soroptimists Regional Finals (I'd won my local heat around November 2014). I went on a four-hour round-trip to Athlone where I delivered my speech against gender quotas in business and politics and then had to speak for two minutes on an impromptu topic (I was given about two minutes to prepare a speech on Operation Transformation - I didn't know what it was so I just ranted about the evils of toddlers in beauty pageants, but it turns out it's an Irish TV programme. The disadvantage of not watching TV). 

I had a really wonderful Valentine's Day with Ciarán, whom I dated from January to July of 2015. I've rarely been so happy so shoutout to him. 

I also went to a meeting or two about continuing the Young Scientist research and met some really amazing people like AJ, Laura, Yuri and Adriele. Oh, and I attempted a video game with some of Ciaran's friends, Smash Bros. I was awful (holding the remote upside-down awful) but hey, it was fun. That day I got to get this amazing photo with Ben and Ciarán Murphy.


At the start of March, I attended the BT Business Bootcamp in UCD Nova. High-scoring students from the Young Scientist were kept in a hotel for four-ish days to learn commercialisation skills, with a pitch to a panel of people including Tony Scott on the last day. Here's a post about the first full day. Picture of the team I was on:

Then there my school's careers evening, then I almost immediately returned to Dublin for a lovely few days with Ciarán and friends. There was an amazing reunion and then another one a week later. I'm lucky.

Towards the end of the month, we had a total solar eclipse and the school Musathon (12 hours of nonstop music). 

We got a landline installed that month, so I had no internet at home for five weeks while they installed it very very slowly. It almost killed me but I developed an appreciation for the radio on my Blockia. And Sudoku.


In early April, I did my world series on this blog, where I interviewed people from Australia, Canada, France, Zimbabwe, America and Hong Kong. That was really interesting and gave me a taste for doing series(es?). My youngest brother Jude had his Communion, and I went to an awards ceremony at the Department of Education and received an iPad for winning my category at the Youth Media Awards

In the last two days of my month, I presented my research at a biomedical conference in the RDS called Evolve Biomed. That was fun and tiring. I took a lot of notes at some really interesting lectures, played with cool tech things including an Oculus Rift headset and got some nice photos. 


In the last week of April and the start of May, school ran Positive Mental Health Week, an annual event that really helps boost everyone's morale. On 1st May, we finished off the week with a Fair Day for the whole school.
On the 14th, I won my game in an interschool tournament, and the following day I had two prizegivings, one in school and one for Drogheda Young Innovators, which I won overall. That was a cool day. 

Other events in May: teaching Jerry ukulele, finishing school for the summer, being on the radio.


Here began my amazing summer. 

I was accepted into Outbox Incubator (didn't have a clue how important that would be yet) on the 15th, then had an article published in Silicon Republic. A few days later, I spent two days attending InspireFest at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre. I loved it, and got to meet some really cool people and learn a lot.

On the 23rd, I competed at the long-awaited Sentinus Young Innovators. The day after, I spent a really cool day up in Intellectual Ventures' Irish HQ (my favourite part was either learning about my upcoming trip to Seattle or talking to the former NASA engineer about space). 

On the 27th, I went to Dublin Pride with a crowd of friends and had a brilliant time. 


July was incredible, because not only did it hold my favourite part of the year (CTYI, duh), it also included an all-expenses-paid trip to Seattle for a week where Mam and I got to visit Intel, Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft, the Computer History Museum, the Space Needle, Pike Place Market and more. 

I've talked a lot about CTYI already, so I'll let those posts explain to you what it means to me: CTYI highlights, Thank You, CTYI. I made and consolidated some beautiful friendships and had enormous fun. I'm really going to miss CTYI.


I went to my friend Niamh's 18th on the 7th, slept over at Katie's and celebrated my birthday early on the 8th as I would be flying to Outbox in London on the 9th. 

During the two weeks I was at Outbox: I turned 17, Gabi turned 16, I ate a ton of junk food, I met a bunch of new friends, we experienced buckets of roommate banter (the best kind) in the Aqueerium, we travelled around London a lot, inside jokes were developed and many midnight conversations were had. All that said, it was a relief to touch down in Dublin Airport. Something just felt right.

I had a few days' rest, then a jam-packed last weekend of the holidays featuring Ciaran's Debs and a bunch of cool sleepovers with people I love. 

I wore makeup like twice this year. 


And so the best summer of my life was over and I was straight into sixth year. Honestly, sixth year has been more manageable than fifth so far, but that's certainly not to say I'm enjoying it. 

During September, I went to Higher Options and hung out with Ben, John and Kat, watched Physics lectures on Light in Queen's University Belfast, went to European Research Night with Chloe and Gabi and went to reunions. On the 8th, I was announced as a global nanotech youth leader by the Emerging Technologies Hub (more news coming from there over the coming months). On the 30th, I found out that I'd been appointed to the Youth Panel of the British Science Association. Cool.

September highlights:


I attended the launch of the Youth Media Awards 2016, applied to colleges, had school Open Night, started a CTYI Engineering course in partnership with Intel in DCU, visited London for a meeting of the CREST Youth Panel, stayed with baes Chloe and Alice, watched Mam run the Dublin Marathon, and went to two Hallowe'en sleepovers and a reunion. I really felt grown up overnight after organising my own trip to London and getting around on my own through the whole day, and the same-day round trip was cool. Shoutout to Sobelama and Jason (two London friends) for meeting up there.


I attended the Web Summit, spoke on a Stemettes panel about my experiences in STEM, watched Gabi's musical, went to Engineering, went to reunions and hung out lots with Alice, Ben, Chloe, Gabi and (virtually) Jackson


I went to the Trinity Open Day (where I met internet friend Lucien, and saw approximately every other person I've ever met), attended Engineering Graduation in Intel, and went to reunions and Kate's birthday. 

It's been a year of unprecedented growth, excitement and good fortune for me. On the whole, things have been looking up, and I'm incredibly fortunate to have found such brilliant people to surround myself with. Happy new year, everyone. 

Before I go - some reunion highlights: