I'm writing this on the train home on Saturday but the entry is about Friday, shut up.
So, I'll try to do it in chronological order. But it'll be hard, since the end of the day was so heavily weighted. Anyway.
I got to the train station at like 7.50 and we went up. I'd sat there on Thursday just waiting for more judges, because MOR kept going on about Anna having had more judges on the Thursday evening. But no more appeared, even though I stayed there until the exhibition closed for the day. So on the train I was shitting it, expecting to get shedloads of judges on the Friday like Anna did.
I got zero.
Well, I got a Judge, the first winner of the Young Scientist, but he was off-duty. He came and asked for a five-minute chat about the project, but ended up staying much longer. He seemed really interested and afterwards went on and on like "It's a phenomenal piece of work" "You're a dyed-in-the-wool researcher" "You have that extra 5% that's hard to quantify, and I wouldn't say that to most of the others here" "You're going to do very well". He was really nice, but you could forgive me for taking that as a good sign.
So I was very encouraged, and didn't die of worry while waiting for other judges who never came. I still didn't move off my stand for lunch until long after the final judging period was over though, rationalizing. It didn't help that the girl two stands over from me was constantly surrounded by judges, often groups of them. Her project was a handwrap for boxers. It didn't seem that innovative, but it was really well done, great statistical analysis and she got Katie Taylor to try it out which I guess always helps.
I talked to Aoife beside me during that, wondering why Brap girl was getting so many judges. It was a nice bonding experience, I guess, seeing our disbelief grow together as the girl was just ringed by judges. MOR came a while after 1, when the judging period ended, and told me to go for lunch. I waited, though. Maybe waiting for Kay, though that might have been Thursday, I can't remember (I don't think Young Scientist days are like normal days; Thursday feels like weeks ago).
Anyway, I felt obligated to spend my daily €4 food voucher even though the food hall was awful (smelly, crowded, loud, generally unpleasant), but I could only order off the Healthy Options menu and everything there was way overpriced ("Infused Water: €3.05") except the crisps, so I just got four packets of crisps. Gaming the system, guys. Buying so much of the Healthy Option that it becomes unhealthy? Right?
Cahal was there, so I gave him, Luke and Jude (who'd come up with Mam and Moya) a packet each. So I ate barely anything, but at least I wasn't being unhealthy, I probably won't get Type 2 Diabetes ... (rationalization, I know). It was really nice to see Cahal and we had a great catch up, we do get on and talk extremely well, so that was fun. We reminisced about the relationship a bit too, though he did go a bit far in saying ours was still, in his opinion, the "model" relationship (you don't really say that to your ex) but yeah, it was definitely a very enjoyable relationship. Ended around 11 months ago, but great fun. He went on about his college debating, which he's become obsessed with (the Hist and the Phil, he's in, as well as the Trinity Players I think).
Moya was there and kept suspiciously disappearing with Kay, I wonder why. More on that later.
I didn't have any judging so I was theoretically free to wander from 2 to 5.30 but I talked to Cahal for most of that and waited for Ciarán and Seán, who ended up cancelling. Then we had to join an enormous queue to get into the BT Arena for the Awards. I couldn't believe the time for the Awards had come so fast. They didn't even spend that long rousing cheers before reading out the awards.
They started with the Special Awards. I thought if I got one it might be HPRA for medical devices because, well, duh, but nope. However, I did get called up to the stage for a prize from Intellectual Ventures. I was sitting in the very middle of a high-up row to the left of the stage so I had to get past everyone, oops, with the camera following me. Apparently I looked very shocked. I thought, OK, that's nice, I'll get a trophy/glass plaque so I was happy going up. Then while I was shaking the man (representative)'s hand, he whispered "There's another part of the prize - you're coming to visit our labs in Seattle." So then I was way shocked, and apparently since the camera was zoomed up on my face you could just see my expression change - mouth drop open, eyes widen. It was so awesome, and when I returned to my seat I was delighted. I was still listening though, to see if my fellow Greenhills students won any special/category awards, or if I won another, or if one of my friends did.
They went through all the other special awards and Claire Gregg won the Best Female award from Google, yay! Claire is Aoife from CTYI's sister, that whole family is really cool. Her Dad had come to my stand earlier in the day after Niamh showed him the way and yeah, they're all awesome.
Mark who had the "Injury Increasing Crop Yields" project who I was talking to on the Wednesday/Thursday got a special prize too, which was cool. I think it was the SFI one but it could've been for renewable stuff either. Something environmental. He's really nice and he'd been working on it for 18 months. Can't really remember the other Special Awards, I'm sure they're online and in the paper.
Then they did the Category Awards, of which there were 72. It took forever. 3 each in Junior, Intermediate and Senior in Group and Individual in Bio/Eco, Tech, Chem/Phys/Maths and Social/Behavioural. After the category change all the Greenhills projects were in Chem/Phys/Maths so we were paying attention to that one. I was listening out for Niamh's because I thought she'd get 2nd, but she didn't get anything. The Collatz conjecture project got something, but I hadn't even known that was in her category. Claire got first in category though! Then it got to Intermediate Group Chem/Phys/Maths (henceforth CPM) and I was hoping but Neasa and Órla didn't get anything. That was more understandable though, because there were 40 projects in their category. There are so many TYs there.
Then it got to Senior Individual, the category I'd newly been moved into. I think there were 3 Synge Street projects in my category, which was awful because they always wipe the floor with everyone. In a category beside mine they took everything, literally 1st 2nd and 3rd. My name was called for 3rd.
3rd in category.
I couldn't believe it. You could see my face in the close-up camera, probably, but I was upset. Everyone had assumed I'd win some big prize. I'd been careful not to assume anything, but still. I know if I won 3rd in category I couldn't win anything bigger later on, and it felt like such a waste of time and effort for that. I know 80% of projects got nothing, but - yeah, it's hard to explain. Not really, but I'm tired so shut up. I was obviously thrilled about Seattle, but I was devastated that I'd specifically been moved into this category and then was beaten for 1st and 2nd by two Synge Street projects with almost identical boards.
Ah yes, I've put my finger onto (part of) the reason why I'm so annoyed. On Thursday morning, when the head Bio judge moved my project, he said it's such a strong project, moving's in my best interests, they'll be sad to lose me etc. So I was pretty happy, thinking that was a good sign. The head judge seemed to really like the project. Other judges seemed to think it was good, I guess, though they were hard to read. John Monahan, the first winner, came by on the Friday morning as I said and, well, I told you what he said.
So I felt very misled, I guess. I also lost my main judge after the category change and to my knowledge never got another one to argue for me, plus one of my other judges was for Special Awards, so I really only had one. They were great people, like, all qualified in their own areas, but they didn't stick.
Blah, blah, get over it. But I was upset.
I'm sure you know the overall winners. Brap girl got Overall Biology, Radon in Mallow group got overall CMP (think they're Kinsale), the communication aid got overall Tech (the guy there is nice) and I think Cyber Contagion: the science behind the ice bucket challenge got overall Social. It's funny seeing the discrepancy between the Intel (CMP) and RTÉ (Social) prizes; Intel people go to ISEF in America, whereas RTÉ winners tour RTÉ studios. Best Individual was that guy with Smartphone PC, Best Group I can't remember, Runner-Up Individual no idea either, but the winners of the BTYS 2015 were a girl and a boy from a school that hadn't won before I think, with a Social project on alcohol and whether parental alcohol consumption influences that of their children (I wonder). Definitely wasn't expecting a Social to win, though I'm sure they're nice. I guess a Social had to win eventually.
It was very weird this year.
We got back and Niamh had no Highly Commended although the TYs had a Display Award which was nice. MOR said she was disappointed and then we went out for the traditional meal in the Bewleys restaurant.
Do you ever get that feeling after a big disappointment, or when something goes wrong? Where you're sure there's been a mistake so you wait there, like I stayed in the hall until they forced us out. Or you think it's a dream, or that you shouldn't have woken up this morning so you can repeat the day because this isn't how it's supposed to go.
Narrative justice is what I'm thinking of, I guess. The lack of it. Maybe just my immaturity, whatever.
On the walk to Bewleys and while we waited MOR talked to the phone and broke the news to people. She said Niamh's project was weak and that mine didn't do as well as Anna's to our faces, which did Not Help. The food was nice, and I appreciate the gesture; I got pasta and icecream with sorbet for dessert.
But I cried (silently - my crying is almost always silent, it looks kinda funny because there are just these tears rolling down my cheeks and you can't hear it) during that dinner. I was very, very upset.
On the bright side, and it is lovely, we had a great time from then on rushing for a taxi/train and messing with each other. Me and Órla did this thing where we made up stupid Social projects about whatever with the worst possible experimental designs, e.g. "Do taxi drivers in Dublin at night mind when Young Scientist students spill ice cream on their car?" Sample size n=3. For further work we would like to investigate whether hotel people mind ice cream on their carpets. We will use our research to compile a leaflet to hand around to help solve the problem.
Also, Anna rang and really cheered me up talking about Seattle. I so appreciate how sensible and sound she is, it's fab.
I don't know. It was really nice. We got the train back and Niamh's mam dropped me to Dad's.
I tried to talk to him about the prize but he was just like "blah blah go to bed we're up late blah"
(yes yes obnoxious teenager, shut up I'm tired)
When I got in Moya said she was pissed at Kay because she thought he liked her for her but then he asked for the shift and said they could be "less strings attached". So I texted him telling him he was in deep sh--. Why am I censoring now? People reading this is bad anyway. It was quite entertaining. I mean, it was insulting that he immediately moved from me to my sister when she arrived, but I appreciate things like that because of the literary value. He guilt-tripped for a while before going to bed (well, I missed his last messages because I went to sleep), and I knew I could see him the next day.