The BT Young Scientist and Technologists of the Year for 2015 are Ian O’Sullivan and Eimear Murphy. The group are from Coláiste Treasa in Cork. Their project, “Alcohol consumption: Does the apple fall far from the tree?”, investigates as to whether there is a link between parental and teenage alcohol consumption. The study focuses on the North Cork electorate area.
This was the first time a study had been carried out in Ireland to see if parents can affect the consumption level of their children in secondary schools. Alcohol consumption is a significant issue in this country with the Irish population consuming more alcohol on average than in the European Union. The pair carried out a cross-sectional analysis to examine the relationship between the attitude of parents towards alcohol and the amount consumed by both parents and teenagers. By examining the data the team found that if an adolescent admitted to dangerous levels of alcohol consumption they were over 3 times more likely to have a father who drinks to the same, if not a worse level. They also found that the same adolescent would be almost 4 times more likely to have a father who believed that excessive drinking is perfectly acceptable from time to time. As a result of the study, it is recommended that when tackling drinking problems amongst adolescents that the father’s attitude towards alcohol should also be targeted.
Colm O’Neill, CEO of BT Ireland, says that the project is of a “really high standard” and also admits that it’s a “really challenging piece of work”. O’Neill believes that the pair will have “a lot of interesting things to say” in the near future.
The Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan TD, says that it’s great to see a project winning from the Social and Behavioural Sciences category as “that category hasn’t won the overall award in a number of years. It goes back quite a long way since that particular category won.”
The competition held host to almost 1,200 participants over the four-day period. The winning group will be presenting their project again tomorrow at the RDS, the last day of the BT Young Scientist exhibition for 2015.