In September of  Transition Year in 2014 Ian and I, with considerable assistance and guidance from our teacher Derry O’ Donovan entered a project called “Alcohol Consumption: Does the Apple Fall Far from the Tree?” in the BT Young Scientist and Technology Competition which was to take place in January 2015.

Peer pressure has been cited as one of the main reasons for hazardous drinking among adolescents especially in recent years. We decided to investigate if there were other contributory factors such as a correlation between parents’ attitudes and alcohol consumption and their adolescents’ alcohol consumption. The next three months were very busy as we researched documentation in relation to our topic, surveyed  the students and their parents from eight local secondary schools and collated our findings.  The highlight was the two weeks spent in UCC with Dr. Martin Davoren, Public Health Researcher. The time spent with Martin was a great experience and allowed us to see what life as a researcher would be like.

January arrived quickly and no words can describe how amazing and exciting the Young Scientist Exhibition really was. We made friends and grew in confidence from discussing our project over three days with sixteen judges who are experts in the field of research.

The project and the conclusions derived from it impressed the judges and to our great surprise we were awarded the top prize in the competition “BT Young Scientists of the Year 2015”. We were stunned and could not believe our luck! It was a dream come true. Part of our prize was the opportunity to represent Ireland  at EUCYS  ( European Union Competition for Young Scientists)  in Milan in September 2015. At that competition we were very fortunate to win the Intel Prize which was a trip to Phoenix, Arizona to present the project at Intel  ISEF ( International Science and Engineering Fair) in May 2016. This trip was another great experience.  In August 2016 we published our research in the scientific  journal, BMC  Public Health.

We are both so glad that we had the opportunity to participate in the Young Scientist Competition as it gave us the opportunity to learn new skills and meet new people and while we worked hard while presenting our project at the competition there was a great buzz and of course great social activities in the evenings!!

Eimear Murphy & Ian O’Sullivan.