Fort Hill College students shortlisted for 2018 BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition

Ben Halligam and Jamie Martin, from Fort Hill College in Lisburn.
Ben Halligam and Jamie Martin, from Fort Hill College in Lisburn.

Two students from Fort Hill College in Lisburn are celebrating after receiving the news that they have been shortlisted as finalists of the 2018 BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE) and will take part in the exhibition in January 2018, marking the 54th year of the renowned educational event.

Ben Halligan and Jamie Martin will present their ‘Hamster Power’ prototype wheel, which they designed to generate a new form of renewable energy – powered by pets.

Ben said: “I was sitting at home, trying to think of a project for the competition. Whilst I was wondering how we could generate power without creating pollution, the hamster was turning his wheel.

“That’s when it came to me. Jamie and I attached a generator and turners to a new wheel and connected a small LED light to see if the hamster could power it.

“Unfortunately, this prototype is too heavy for the hamster to turn but we have proved that the wheel can power the light, by turning it with our hands. The next stage of development will be to create a lighter wheel for the hamster to turn.”

The BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition will take place from January, 10 to 13, 2018 at the RDS in Dublin.

Ben’s project partner, Jamie, said he’s looking forward to seeing the hundreds of projects on show from schools north and south of the border, “Textbooks are one thing, but seeing your own invention take shape is something else,” he said.

He added: “I have a strong interest in science and know that Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects are so important when it comes to getting a job. Technology is an important part of all our lives.”

The exhibition is one of the largest and longest running STEM events in the world, and challenges students to imagine a big idea and bring it to life through research and development in a practical way, outside the classroom.

Fort Hill Science teacher, Stephen McCormick, has big hopes for his school’s participating duo:

“Fort Hill took part in BTYSTE for the first time last year. We want to show how good our science department is and we’ve been encouraging students to take part to increase their interest and participation in STEM subjects.

“Some students need more encouragement than others but I have to say that Ben and Jamie are real self-starters. They came up with their project idea during the summer holidays and arrived back at school with their prototype hamster power wheel. They make an impressive team and the school is very proud of them.”

“The BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition helps open the participants’ eyes to all sorts of possibilities. They get an idea of what a career in science could be like.”