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Loreto Secondary School Students win SciFest@DkIT

12 May 2022

Schools from across the North Leinster and South Ulster region came together with hundreds of their second-level student peers to compete in the SciFest@DkIT 2022 regional competition at Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT). Almost 100 projects exhibited at SciFest@DkIT 2022 and the judges had a difficult task in shortlisting the regional winners.


The top prize on the day, the Best Project Award, went to Loreto Secondary School (Balbriggan) students’ Laetitia Nouaha, Sidra Shahzad, Melissa Asare for their excellent project titled ‘The Impact of Covid-19 on the Mental Wellbeing of Teenage Girls’. Students from Largy College (Clones) picked up the Runner-Up Best Project Award for their project ‘Four seasons photovoltaic self-charging Rover: The Mars-PSR’ which also scooped the ESERO Discover Space Award (student and teacher awards) by students Dara Courtney, Joshua Brandon and Seán Clerkin supported by teacher Mrs Colette Smith.

Not only did Loreto Secondary School (Balbriggan) win the Best Project Award they also picked up further awards including the Fenergo Communication Award AND DkIT Best Junior Physical Sciences or Technology Award for ‘Investigating the effectiveness a gamified attention-bias modification video game has on reducing anxiety in 12–18-year olds’ which was won by Keeva Murray and Julianne Diskin. Their winning streak did not stop there as they also won the DkIT Junior Life Sciences Award for ‘An investigation into whether being left-handed or right-handed influences the subject choices of second year students due to using different sides of the brain’ by students Saliha Iqbal and Ashleigh Harrison.

De Lacy College (Ashbourne) were also big winners on the day, walking away with four awards which included, Institute of Physics Award for Testing the floatation levels of latex balloons with and without Hi-float by student Claudia de Francesco. The Intel Technology Award went to ‘Does posture effect mood’ by Ryan Fowler, Sean O Toole, and Eoghan Gallagher. The Regeneron Life Sciences Award AND Boston Scientific Medical Devices Runner Up Award for the project ‘How different breakfasts effect one’s blood glucose’ was won by student Anna Mills.

SciFest@DkIT co-ordinator Dr Edel Healy, Head of School of Health & Science, DkIT said:

Today on campus has been a great day, we opened our doors and welcomed the post primary students and their teachers from our region to Scifest 2022. The last time we were able to host such an event at DkIT was 2019. It was wonderful to see the inventiveness and ingenuity of all the projects. We can safely say the future is bright for STEM in the Northeast.”

SciFest is an all-island STEM initiative which fosters active, collaborative and inquiry-based learning among second-level students. The programme operates throughout the school year and, being locally and regionally based and free-to-enter, is highly inclusive and accessible. Winners from each regional STEM fair go on to compete at a National Final in November. Winners from the national final compete at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in America and in the Hong Kong Global Youth Science and Technology Bowl (GYSTB), attend the Long Night of Science in Berlin and participate in the Broadcom MASTERS International Programme in America. The SciFest programme is funded primarily by Intel Ireland and Boston Scientific.

Commenting on the SciFest@DkIT regional STEM fair Sheila Porter, SciFest Founder and CEO said:

As we mark the 17th year of SciFest, more than 80,000 students have participated in the programme to date, and we are sure that 2022 will be another stellar year for projects in science, technology, engineering and maths. SciFest gives students an excellent opportunity to develop their interest in STEM and in inquiry-based approaches to learning, while developing their creative and problem-solving skills and learning to work in a team.”

Interval guest speakers on the day whilst the judges made their final decision included Professor Keith Thornbury who is the Director of Smooth Muscle Research Centre in DkIT and an esteemed lecturer in the School of Health and Science. His centre has led out on the multi-disciplinary, cross-border project BREATH (Borders and Regions Airways Training Hub)

This year DkIT were also absolutely delighted to welcome Niamh Byrne from WuXi Biologics Ireland as our second guest interval speaker. Niamh Byrne holds the position of Manufacturing Lead for the Fed batch facility, MFG 7 and is also the chairperson of WuXi Biologics and WuXi Vaccines Joint Women in Stem Committee. Niamh’s industry expertise and experience was an inspiration to all the young scientists who participated at the SciFest@DkIT event. Niamh provided an oversight of the company and types of roles that graduates may apply for within the Biologics Pharmaceutical sector.

 Winners on the Day

  • Loreto Secondary School, Balbriggan, Co Dublin

Best Project Award, DkIT Junior Life Sciences Award, Fenergo Communication Award AND DkIT Best Junior Physical Sciences or Technology Award

            Largy College, Clones, Co Monaghan

ESERO Discover Space Award (student and teacher awards) AND Runner-Up Best Project Award

  • Bush Post Primary School, Co Louth

            DKIT Best Intermediate Life Sciences Award

  • St Oliver's Community College, Drogheda, Co Louth

            Irish Science Teachers Association Award

  • De Lacy College, Ashbourne, Co Meath

Intel Technology Award, Institute of Physics Award, Regeneron Life Sciences Award AND Boston Scientific Medical Devices Runner Up Award

  • Athboy Community School, Co Meath

Vermillion Energy Innovation Award

  • Castleblayney College, Co Monaghan

Boston Scientific Medical Devices Award and Accenture Maths in Science Award

  • Coláiste Chú Chulainn, Dundalk, Co Louth

Scifest Chemistry Award (student) and Royal Society of Chemistry Award (teacher) AND Business Excellence Institute Award

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