From education to employment

Female students crowned UK yooung scientist and UK young engineer of the year

  • Teenager from Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland is UK Young Scientist of the Year 2023 with her environmentally friendly sunscreens creation
  • Teenager from Colchester, England is UK Young Engineer of the Year 2023 with her InterSign smart device to improve communication with Deaf community
  • Girls wins top 2 awards in week of International Women in Engineering Day

Two girls have scooped the top awards in the prestigious national Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Competition.

Kaycee Deery (15), a student at St Mary’s College (Derry-Londonderry), has been crowned UK Young Scientist of the Year 2023 for her creation of environmentally friendly sunscreen, designed to avoid harmful chemicals found in commercial suncreams which damage the environment.

Kaycee was inspired to create sunscreens based on natural ingredients after learning about potentially harmful chemicals in commercial sunscreens entering UK water systems. Washed away after swimming in the sea, pools and showering, these chemicals can harm and kill vital marine life and coral. Kaycee found a solution to this problem by creating several natural sunscreens with UVA protection ranging from SPF9 to SPF34, derived from naturally occurring oils.

Ranita Ariyibi (15), a student at Colchester County High School for Girls (Essex), has been crowned UK Young Engineer of the Year 2023 for her creative invention of a smart device that enables hearing and Deaf people to communicate more easily.

InterSign acts as electronic interpreter between British Sign Language (BSL) and English, meaning it can see a sign then give the meaning in English – both spoken and written on screen. Similar to smart speakers like Alexa, it has the additional advantage of being able to take action. So, signing ‘help’ could trigger the device to call emergency services or a family member.

Accepting her award, Kaycee said:

“This is surreal. I don’t feel like I’ve done it, but I did! I decided to do this project to create a more sustainable, biodegradable and eco-friendly sunscreen. This award will help me continue and advance the project and hopefully, some day have an actual product to give people”.

Accepting her award, Ranita said:

“It’s absolutely crazy, I never imagined that I’d be here today. It’s been such a long process and I’m so grateful for this opportunity and to have won this award. I think having the showcase of all the competitors at The Big Bang Fair is really inspiring, seeing how young people can do amazing things.”

Dr Hilary Leevers, Chief Executive of EngineeringUK, which runs The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Competition, said:

“Huge congratulations to Ranita and Kaycee on their UK Young Scientist and UK Young Engineer of the Year awards. They both worked incredibly hard on their projects and really impressed our judges with their creative ideas, problem solving skills and passion for science and engineering.

We’re delighted to see so many girls have entered the competition this year – demonstrating that science and engineering really is accessible and interesting to everyone. Ranita and Kaycee undoubtedly have a very bright future ahead of them and we hope their achievements will inspire more young people, and especially girls, to develop a passion for science, technology and engineering.”

Several other students were crowned winners at the awards ceremony at The Big Bang Fair. This includes the winners of the junior, intermediate and senior Science and Engineering categories, as well as several special awards which are supported by industry. 

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