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Secondary Schools Compete To Win SciFest 2019

10 May 2019

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 2019 regional competition at Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT).

DkIT welcomed some of the most inquisitive minds in the North Leinster and South Ulster region to its campus for the 2019 SciFest regional programme.

Hundreds of secondary school students from North Dublin, Louth, Cavan, Meath and Monaghan exhibited their Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) projects to compete for the coveted title of SciFest 2019 Regional Finalist.

SciFest is an all-inclusive, all-island science initiative which fosters active, collaborative and inquiry-based learning among second-level students. SciFest is funded primarily by Science Foundation Ireland, Intel, Boston Scientific and Specsavers. This year sees the introduction of an exciting new award, the Specsavers Making a Difference Award. A further new award this year is the Institute of Physics in Ireland award for the best Physics project. Among the other awards on offer are the Boston Scientific Medical Devices Award and the Intel Technology Award.

Of the almost 130 projects exhibited at SciFest@DkIT 2019, the judges had a difficult task in shortlisting the regional winners. The top prize on the day, the SFI Best Project Award, went to Ruth Madden from Largy College for her project, ‘The Microplastic Filter – A Small Solution to a Global Problem’. The student will go on to participate in the SciFest National Final where she will compete for the opportunity to represent Ireland at the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Anaheim, California in May 2020.

St. Vincent’s Secondary School, Dundalk won three prizes on the day including the Irish Science Teacher’s Associations (ISTA) award, won by Ruth McGee, Erin Moore and Fiadh O’Grady, for their project on ‘An investigation to compare the anti-microbial effectiveness of natural versus synthetic soaps; the Best Junior Life Sciences Project Award, won by Aoife McQuillan, Ciara Gorham and Kayla Darby, for their project on ‘Is there a correlation between audio book genres and the narrator gender?’; and the Highly Recommended award, won by Cara Preston and Ciara Reilly for their project on ‘A Fourier Analysis of Mathematical Wave Patterns in Irish Dancing’.

Upon receiving the award Cara commented:

It means so much to have won the Highly Recommended Award. We both put so much effort into it and it’s great that we got something back out if it in the end. So it’s a very proud moment. The project has helped us both with our team work skills and communication – it’s also made us more confident speaking publicly. Working on our project which was 'A Fourier Analysis of Mathematical Wave Patterns in Irish Dancing' has giving me an interest in STEM and I think I would definitely consider DkIT in the future.”

Ciara added:

“We put so much time and effort into our project. It’s great that the work has been acknowledged. We had so much fun creating our project and our poster and it was a nice change from what we usually do in school. I would be interested in going into science when I’m older and I’d definitely be considering DkIT as I really liked the campus because it’s big and it’s only up the road.”

Coláiste Chú Chuilainn also won on the day, with Joseph Cassidy taking home the Runner-Up Junior Life Sciences Project for his work on ‘How light colour affects plant growth’.

DkIT President Michael Mulvey said:

We are happy to host this great event because DkIT has a very wide range of programmes in the STEM area including Science, Agriculture, Engineering and Computing and we have a very good record in terms of individual retention and completion rates.”

“We aim to nurture and develop the entrepreneurs of the future and indeed I think we have quite a few of them here today at SciFest.”

Dr. Edel Healy, Head of School of Health & Science and Scifest@DkIT Coordinator also commented:

Every year I am so impressed by the high standard of research that goes into the entries; this year is no different. The quality of the research being done by the second-level students from across the region highlights the passion the students have for science, technology, engineering and maths. We are so proud to take part in SciFest, an initiative that not only encourages the students to learn more about STEM but is all inclusive.”

Winners of the SciFest Regional Finals at DkIT 2019 are:

SciFest Winners:

  • St Vincent’s Secondary School, Irish Science Teachers' Association (ISTA) Award
  • Coláiste Dún an Rí, Maths in Science Award
  • Eureka Secondary School, ESERO Discover Space Award
  • Eureka Secondary School, Newstalk Best Communicator Award
  • Coláiste Dún an Rí, Environmental Award
  • Ashbourne Community College, Institute of Physics Award
  • Bailieborough Community School, Intel Award (Best Technology)
  • Eureka Secondary School, Specsavers Making a Difference Award
  • Patrician High School, Boston Scientific Medical Devices Award
  • Patrician High School, Abbott Runner-Up Best Project Award
  • Largy College, Science Foundation Ireland Best Project Award

DkIT Awards:

  • St. Bricin’s College, Best Senior or Intermediate Project
  • St Vincent's Secondary School, Best Junior Life Sciences Project
  • Coláiste Chú Chulainn, Runner-up Junior Life Sciences Project
  • St. Oliver’s Community College, Best Junior Physical Sciences or Technology Project,
  • St. Vincent’s Secondary School, Highly Recommended Project

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

As we mark the 12th anniversary of SciFest, more than 65,000 students have participated in the programme to date and we are sure that 2019 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 inquiry-based approaches to learning, while developing their creative and problem-solving skills and learning to work in a team.” 

 Watch the full video here:  

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