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The John Hooper Medal for Statistics competition has yet again been a great success. Each year we are delighted with the number of entries received. For the second year in a row, due to the pandemic, we had to take a different approach to advertising the competition.  We ran a major social media campaign and thankfully it worked out very well. 

The twelfth John Hooper Medal for Statistics competition was launched on 20 October 2021. In all, 227 entries were received. The posters were initially judged in two phases by teams of statisticians from the CSO, according to detailed judging criteria. Fifteen posters were then shortlisted for the final judging phase. The final judging panel, chaired by Fiona O’Callaghan, consisted of:

Kathleen O'Sullivan
Lecturer & Director of the Statistical Consultancy Unit
School of Mathematical Sciences
University College Cork

Dr. Kieran Murphy
Lecturer in Mathematics
Waterford Institute of Technology

Fiona O’Callaghan
Central Statistics Office

Anthony Dawson
Central Statistics Office

Tim Linehan
Central Statistics Office

The results of the judges’ deliberations are given below:

First Prize and Winners of the John Hooper Medal for Statistics

Students: Conor Breen, Seanie O'Shea
Teacher: Ivan Cliffe
Ardscoil na Mara,
Co. Waterford
A Simple Method To Improve Energy Production From Bifacial Solar Panels

This team went on to represent Ireland in the International Statistical Literacy Project Competition 2023, where they received an Honourable Mention in the Junior Category.

Second Prize

Students: Nathan Mac an Bháird, Alicia Nic an Bháird
Teacher: Georgina Martin
Roscommon Community College,
Co. Roscommon
What are Your Phone Habits?

Third Prize

Students: Holly Whelan, Nicole Murphy
Teacher: Sinead Kent
St Mary's Secondary School,
Ashe Road,
Nenagh ,
Co. Tipperary
How To Write A Piece of Chart Topping Music?

Order of Merit (in no particular order)

Students: Lara Orosz, Caoimhe Hannigan
Teacher: Veronica Ryan
Castletroy College,
Co. Limerick
Investigating Reading Trends in Ireland

Students: Grace Meaney, Clodagh Geraghty
Teacher: Michelle Madigan
Colaiste Muire,
Harmony Row,
Co. Clare
Does Exercise Affect Happiness?

Students: Mia Byrne, Charlee Holt, Aoibhe Walsh
Teacher: Sinead O'Connor
Loreto College Foxrock,
Springfield Park,
Dublin 18
Are People Similar to Their Descriptions Provided by Their Star Signs?

Students: Heather O’Sullivan, Daniel Hegarty
Teacher: Georgina Martin
Roscommon Community College,
Co. Roscommon
Turning Out in Force

Students: Mary Coughlan, Hannah Connon, Emily Flynn
Teacher: Clodagh Hogan
Gallen Community School,
Lower Main St.,
Co. Offaly
The Impact of the Crowd on Referees' Decision Making

Students: Callum Rogerson, Raymond Lambe, Sean Tobin
Teacher: Mr Patrick Molony
St Patrick's Classical School,
Co. Meath
Who Has Been Affected the Most by Covid-19?

Students: Owen Clarke, Sean Boyce
Teacher: Ms Annette Galvin
St Joseph's Secondary School,
Co. Clare
The Effects of Playing Sport on Student's Mental Health

Students: Cian Ó Cadhla, Cormac Sims
Teacher: Ivan Cliffe
Ardscoil na Mara,
Co. Waterford
Rewilding Ireland: Could Glenveagh National Park Sustain A Grey Wolf Population

Students: Niamh Muldowney, Laura McMahon, Alannah Galligan
Teacher: Ruairí Maher
Gaelcholáiste Luimnigh,
Sir Harry's Mall,
Co. Limerick
Do Push Notifications Influence Screen Time

Students: Millie Boylan, Isabelle McDonnell Murphy
Teacher: Aisling Kirwan
Drogheda Grammar School,
Mornington Road,
Co. Meath
How Age Affects IQ

Students: Tegan Hatty, Leanna Walsh
Teacher: Melissa Carroll
Glenart College,
Co. Wicklow
Clothes Bought and Thrown Away

Students: Rhys O’Connor, Jamie Juhanson
Teacher: Rebecca Delee
Desmond College,
Newcastle West,
Co. Limerick
Reducing Ireland’s Power Related Carbon Emissions

Feedback on the posters

The following are some of the issues that arise each year while we are trying to manage the registration and entry processes:

  • Entries in the wrong format.
  • School and/or pupil names on the posters.
  • Individuals entering – this is a team competition

We remind teachers and pupils each year to carefully read the rules, however we continue to come across the same issues. Please be aware that reading the rules, which are few and reasonably straightforward, will make the process a lot smoother for both the CSO and the schools involved. It would be a pity for a team to lose out after all their hard work because of a technicality. We are happy to answer your questions if there is any confusion about the entry requirements.

Feedback from the judges:

The judges were impressed with the variety of interesting topics covered in the posters this year but have offered the following tips and suggestions:

Try to avoid using a dark background colour in your poster as it can make some of the text very difficult to read. Sometimes colours and fonts can look different on screen and on paper, so it might be a good idea to print a copy of your poster to see how it looks before you submit it.

Cut down on the amount of text and consider the balance of blank space versus text/graphs. While a certain amount of blank space is needed in the margins etc. so that the poster is not too cluttered, small font sizes and small graphs are difficult to read. For the posters that were entered into BTYSTE, there should be some editing of these posters to make them more suitable to a poster competition.

Think about the appropriateness of the graphs that you use. Bar charts are good for comparisons, while line charts work better for trends. Scatter plot charts are good for relationships and distributions, but pie charts should be used only for simple compositions — never for comparisons or distributions. Graphs should help the reader to understand your results so be sure to label your axes and use a legend if required.

Some posters showed a lot of potential in terms of the subject matter and the data collection etc. but they didn’t quite follow through with the analysis section. Try to explore a range of statistical techniques including descriptive and inferential statistics.

Provide better information on where the data is sourced. Some posters were let down by a lack of description of their survey or data collection methods.

Be cautious around sensitive topics. We don't want to discourage students from working on topics that may be of a sensitive nature, but students and teachers need to be aware of issues around confidentiality and ethical surveying.

Finally, make sure to proof-read your poster before you submit it as typos and spelling mistakes can take from the overall impression of a poster.

Clarity of message: Try not to over-complicate your poster by attempting to test or analyse too many things.

Data collection: If survey data comes from a particular school, some background on the school should be provided so that the context of the findings may be more transparent. The possible effects of non-response could be explored.

Analysis and conclusions: Exercise caution when reporting your findings. Avoid overstating the inferences/conclusions that can be made from the results – usually the inferences are limited to the sample and probably can’t be extended to the overall population. It is very important to choose a statistical analysis that is appropriate for the type of data collected. Try to keep the commentary on the conclusions objective rather than subjective.

Graphs and tables: Make sure to label the axes of all graphs, label them correctly and try to select a style of graph that best conveys your message. Avoid the use of 3D graphs as they can often detract from the readability of a graph. Choose the graph type that is appropriate for your data, for example, do not use line graphs to summarise categorical data. In presenting your results, limit the number of decimal places displayed to 2 or less – unless the data specifically needs to be displayed with more decimal places.

Presentation: Take care with spelling and the overall alignment and formatting of the poster. Try to avoid having too much text and over-filling the poster area. Including more text by making the font size smaller on the poster can sometimes take away from the impact that the students’ hard work deserves. Use a mixture of text, graphs and images, but keep in mind graphs and images have a greater impact than text.

If the poster is in a slide format, do not over-complicate the flow of the narrative. Make sure the slides follow a simple, easy to follow and logical flow. For example:

Image for Feedback

Make sure all text, graphs and images are legible in the final poster. In a number of posters, the text was not legible as it blended into the background – try a dark font on a light background.

Try to create an eye-catching poster but be careful in choosing the overall colour scheme. 2 – 3 different colours should suffice. Use an overall colour scheme that is not too garish and hard on the eye. Avoid backgrounds that are too busy.

Creativity/Importance: Originality and creativity in the research question are key components of the competition.

Feedback welcome

Please send your feedback and comments on the John Hooper Medal for Statistics poster competition to