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Press Statement


19 October 2022

CSO Student Awards

Waterford students shine in Ireland and Europe with poster on solar panels

Today, Wednesday 19 October 2022, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) is delighted to host an award ceremony for the winners of the John Hooper Statistical Poster Competition 2022 and the winner of the Award for the Best Use of CSO Open Data 2022.

Students Conor Breen (15) and Seanie O’Shea (14) of Ardscoil na Mara, Co. Waterford, took home the top prize at an awards ceremony held in Croke Park today from 12 noon to 1.15pm.

The pair, from Tramore Co. Waterford, won the CSO’s John Hooper Medal for Statistics for their poster ‘A Simple Method to Improve Energy Production from Bifacial Solar Panels’. They were each presented with a sterling silver medal and will share a cash prize of €600. They also won €1,000 for their school.

Their win at national level meant they were eligible to represent Ireland in the European Statistics Competition, where they had to create a two-minute video on the environment. Their video came third in the European Statistics Video Competition (Junior Category) and today they were also each presented with a glass trophy to mark that achievement.

When asked about their win, Conor and Seanie, now both third-year students, said they were surprised and proud of their achievements in both competitions.

“We entered the competition never expecting to win the Irish John Hooper Poster Competition, let alone be given an opportunity to represent Ireland in the European phase. We were absolutely thrilled with what we achieved,” Conor and Seanie said.

Their poster project focused on ways to improve energy production from bifacial solar panels. “We gathered data from monofacial and bifacial solar panels and used statistical analysis to represent this data. There was a lot of work learning about statistical analysis: gathering data, representing data, and presenting this data on a poster. We learned a lot about how solar panels work and how they can be used more efficiently. And we also learned how to use the Central Statistics Office as a resource for information and further study.”

Their video project for the European Statistical Competition focused on methane production from cows in Ireland. “We were excited and happy to be selected as finalists and when we finally learned that we took third place, we were very proud of our accomplishments. It was an honour to represent Ireland and it was amazing to come third,” Conor and Seanie said.

Students from around the country were also honored for their projects today. Other winners and runners-up included:

  • Nathan Mac an Bháird and Alicia Nic an Bháird, Roscommon Community College, took second prize in the John Hooper competition for their poster on ‘What Are Your Phone Habits?’ They will share a cash prize of €350 while their school will receive €650.
  • Holly Whelan and Nicole Murphy of St. Mary’s Secondary School, Co. Tipperary, came third in the John Hooper competition for their poster on ‘How to Write a Piece of Chart-topping Music’. They will share a cash prize of €200 and won €400 for their school.
  • Aoife Duggan, who attends Sandford Park School, Dublin, was the winner for the Best Use of CSO Open Data Award at the BT Young Scientist Exhibition 2022 and was awarded a sterling silver medal. All of today’s winners also received a framed certificate to mark their achievements.

Presenting the awards, Assistant Director General of the CSO, Paul Morrin, praised all those who entered the competition for thinking about new ways to show how data and statistics can be used to inform our lives.

Mr. Morrin said: “Every year we see a very high standard of entries for the John Hooper competition and for the Best Use of CSO Open Data Award. Students consistently demonstrate ingenuity and original thinking by exploring a vast range of topics.

Promoting the understanding and use of statistics is an integral part of the CSO’s Educational Outreach programme which includes the John Hooper Medalthe Award for the Best Use of CSO Open Data at the BT Young Scientist Exhibition, and the Census at Schools initiatives.”    

More About the Students:

John Hooper Competition Runners-Up

Second Place:

Brother and sister Nathan Mac an Bháird (16) and Alicia Nic an Bháird (14) from Roscommon Town, who are students at Roscommon Community College, came second in the John Hooper competition for their poster on ‘What Are Your Phone Habits?’

On their award, Nathan, now in fourth year, and second-year student Alicia, said: It’s an amazing feeling! It’s an honour to have our project commended so highly by the Central Statistics Office.

Our project collected data about how people buy and use their phones. We surveyed students in our school and compared results between this Irish secondary school and the wider national and international smartphone userbase.

We learned how to effectively collect and analyse primary data. We learned how to research secondary data properly, making sure it came from reputable sources and finding multiple sources to cross-check information where possible. We also learned how to compare results between different sample groups of primary and secondary data, to recognise and investigate differences in findings from the groups, and to draw a notable conclusion from our research.” 

Third Place:

Holly Whelan (16) from Lahorna in Nenagh and Nicole Murphy (16) from Portroe, who are both fifth-year students at St. Mary’s Secondary School, Co. Tipperary, came third in the John Hooper competition for their poster on ‘How to Write a Piece of Chart-topping Music’.

Holly and Nicole said: “Upon finding out that we had placed third out of the whole of Ireland, we were very overwhelmed. We worked very hard on our project and we were delighted, it was such a surreal feeling knowing that our project was third best in the country.

Our project explained and proved how statistics and maths play a huge part in the making of a successful chart-topping piece of music. We learned that maths is not just used in the classroom but also in the real world too. By completing our project, it gave us the opportunity to look at statistics in a different way.”

Winner of the Best Use of CSO Open Data Award at the BT Young Scientist Exhibition 2022:

Aoife Duggan (15) from Clonskeagh in Dublin is a third-year student at Sandford Park School, Dublin. She won the medal for the Best Use of CSO Open Data Award at the BT Young Scientist Exhibition 2022.

Aoife said: “It feels great to have my project recognised by the CSO, who’s data was so crucial in my project, and I’m honoured to receive the award after all the work that went into it. My project analysed trends in Healthy-Life Expectancy to investigate how we can make our nation healthier in the future. In particular, I looked at the factors that influence healthy-life expectancy and the different healthcare approaches that would benefit approaches now and in the future.”

Aoife, who would like to pursue a career in the medical field, said the project helped her learn the importance of proactive healthcare in optimising the health of a nation.

“Proactive healthcare includes improving social determinants of health, controlling larger patient data for a more efficient and organised approach, and involving patients in their own care. I also learnt about the significant role of open data in research and projects, and how essential it is to our knowledge.”

Editor's Note:
About the John Hooper Award:

The goal of the CSO’s John Hooper competition is to improve students' abilities to describe, explore, and investigate their environment using statistics. This national competition, now in its twelfth year, is open to teams of two or three students, aged up to 18 years old.

The competition is named in recognition of Cork man John Hooper, who was the first Director of Statistics for the newly formed Irish State, Saorstát Éireann, in 1923. Until his untimely death in 1930 at the age of just 51, Mr. Hooper shaped the development of official statistics in Ireland. His work led to the development of new statistics (e.g. first Census of Population and Census of Industrial Production in 1926), and the 1926 Statistics Act.

About the award for the Best Use of CSO Open Data:

The Award for the Best Use of CSO Open Data at the BT Young Scientist Exhibition is now in its eighth year. This competition aims to encourage young people to use open data. Open data is data that can be accessed, used, or shared. Governments, businesses, and individuals can use open data to bring about social, economic, and environmental benefits.

The award is for the most innovative use, or potential use, of CSO data, whether it is in statistical analyses, processes or outputs, a piece of research, a visualisation or a data map, the development of a device, a software application, or the use of CSO data in any other innovative way.

For further information or interview requests for any of the winners contact:

The Press Office, Moira Buckley, 085 8782769

or email:

Photographs available on request


For further information contact:

Press Office (+353) 21 453 5028

or email

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