Scientific solutions to some of the biggest global development challenges were the focus of a recent showcase hosted by Self Help Africa and Irish Aid. The annual science for development event brought together more than a dozen leading student projects from this year’s BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition.
Representatives of the development sector gathered at the headquarters of the Department of Foreign Affairs to give students their expert feedback on the projects, ranging from an app for detecting glaucoma, a study into bees’ health and a device to purify cholera-infected water.
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney commended the young scientists for their innovation, drive and enthusiasm in seeking answers to the most pressing challenges faced by Africa’s poorest people.
Minister Simon Coveney said that food wastage, contaminated water, absence of electricity and inadequate food production were just some of the issues that scientific thinking could help to solve.
The students relished the opportunity to showcase their work in front of a prestigious audience. “I am thrilled I got to show my project because I was really happy with the results of my experiment,” said Amelie O’Connor from Sutton Park School in County Dublin, who designed a cooking water conservation system.
For Timothy McGrath, a Kerry student who won this year’s Science for Development Award at the BT science fair for a device purifying cholera-infected water, the event was an excellent opportunity to network: “There has been a great reaction towards my project. Many people have said that I should continue to work on it. I can use these contacts to improve my device in the future,” Timothy said.
Dr. Tony Scott, who founded the Young Scientist Exhibition more than 50 years ago, told the gathering that while some creative and smart solutions to development issues had been produced since the Science for Development Award was first started at the expo by Self Help Africa 15 years ago. “If we had that thinking from the outset of the event in the 1960s, perhaps we would have had answers to some of the problems that still blight places like Africa today.”
The Science for Development Award was created by Self Help Africa in 2004, to reward ideas that use science and technology to find solution to some of the most pressing development issues in the developing countries of the world.
Photo: Simon Coveney and Dr Tony Scott with students from North Monastery Secondary School (Cork).