Cork teenagers win the main prize in the European competition for young scientists

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The winners of the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE) 2020, Cormac Harris and Alan O’Sullivan, took home first prize in the European Union Contest for Young Scientists, which took place over the weekend.

They won the competition for their statistical study of the prevalence of gender stereotyping among five- to seven-year-olds and the development of an initiative to combat gender bias.

The students of Coláiste Choilm, Co. Cork, won the 2020 competition with their project, which aimed to identify gender stereotyping at an early stage. Her research showed the need to focus on boys and girls from a young age in order to combat the development of gender stereotypes. It was a rare overall win for a project in the social and behavioral sciences category.

BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition 2021 winner Gregory Tarr won third prize for his technology project using artificial intelligence to detect “deepfake” videos that have become harmful by spreading disinformation through social media channels.

The student, who completed his Leaving Certificate at Bandon Grammar School earlier this year, developed an advanced computer program that is faster and more accurate than many of the state-of-the-art recognition systems. The 18-year-old has since founded Inferex, a startup looking to commercialize the deepfake detection model, and has raised more than $ 1 million.

BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition 2021 winner Gregory Tarr took home third prize. Photo: Chris Bellew / Fennell Photography

Due to Covid-19, this year’s event brought together participants from 2020 and 2021.

“It’s a great honor,” said Cormac Harris. “We are thrilled and shocked to have won.” Above all, he was glad that the topic of gender stereotyping was being discussed again and how one could react to it.

Since winning in 2020, the sixth graders have significantly expanded their project work. They hope to go back to schools to raise awareness and provide more resources for students, teachers and parents, O’Sullivan said – they are freely available at stopthebias.eu.

The youth competition director, Mari Cahalane, paid tribute to all Irish winners. “I am incredibly proud of our BTYSTE alumni Cormac, Alan and Gregory for representing Ireland so well in this year’s European Union Young Scientists Competition,” she said.

“You are Ireland’s 16th winner in the history of the competition and it’s Ireland’s second consecutive first prize – a fantastic achievement and recognition of the level of innovation and STEM [science, technology, engineering and maths] Talents that the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition presents every year. “

The European competition was held virtually in Salamanca, Spain, and young scientists between the ages of 14 and 20 competed from 39 countries across Europe and the world.


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