SciFest@IT Sligo has again demonstrated its popularity as an innovation launch-pad for young scientists across the North West.
Around 300 second-level students – the brains behind more than 130 exhibits — packed the Knocknarea Arena for the annual scientific showcase.
Schools from Sligo, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon, Donegal and Cavan took part. Numbers of participants and exhibits increase each year as it becomes embedded as a highlight of the scientific school year.
And the quality and diversity of the exhibits at the sixth SciFest@IT Sligo drew warm praise from judges and event organisers.
MacDara Bodeker, Chairperson of Judging Committee who lectures in Life Sciences at IT Sligo, said: ‘SciFest is a great way for the Institute to develop an interest in science with young people in the community. The standard of projects entered in our SciFest competition is consistently high, which gives me great hope for the development of the industry’.
The top prize was won by Eamonn Sweeney of Jesus & Mary Secondary School, Enniscrone, Co Sligo, with a novel project that explored how CPR (heart massage) could be applied at the correct frequency by using metronomic beats delivered through a mobile phone on loud speaker as a guide. He was awarded the SFI/Discover Science and Engineering Best Project Award.
Runners-up, who won the Abbot Award for their study of granular materials, were Nathan Cook, Kelvin Connell and Francis McElroy, from Castlerea Community School, Co Roscommon.
The Intel Award for the Best Physical Science or Technology project went to Chloe Sweeney, Emma O’Beirne and Aisling Sweeney of Abbey Community College, Boyle, Co Roscommon, who investigated how the volume of water in a rocket affects the distance it can travel.
Darren Finnerty and Niall Caden from St Tiernan’s College, Crossmolina, Co Mayo, won the IT Sligo Business Innovation Award for a project about factors that affect hens hatching eggs.
SciFest is an all-inclusive, all-island science competition in which second-level students showcase science, technology and maths projects at a series of one day science fairs held in the 14 regional Institutes of Technology and the University of Ulster, Magee Campus, Derry.
The winners from each science fair go on to compete at the national SciFest final competition in November. The SciFest programme is primarily sponsored by Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) Discover Science & Engineering Programme and Intel Ireland. It is also supported by a number of other companies and organisations.
Sheila Porter, SciFest CEO, said; ‘SciFest is a fun and exciting way to encourage an interest in science at school level, providing not only an occasion to celebrate achievement and a job well done but also an opportunity to encourage active and collaborative learning. The rapid increase in participation in the competition is a clear indication of the interest and enthusiasm among students and teachers in the investigative approach to teaching and learning science.’
Run as a ‘mini Young Scientist’ exhibition, its prize categories are mainly based on age group and project type, which includes physical sciences, life sciences and technology.
It is smaller and less formal than the Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition but serious scientific quality remains the chief criterion on which each project is judged.
Bill Crowe, a lecturer in Environmental Science at IT Sligo and chief organiser of the North West regional SciFest, says ‘The aim is to encourage a love of science through enquiry-based learning and to give students an opportunity to display their projects and possibly win prizes’.
Jerry Bird, Head of School of Science at IT Sligo, said the Institute is committed to developing the demonstrably innovative scientific skills of the young people of the region.
‘Here at Institute of Technology Sligo, we offer a great diversity of programmes in our School of Science from Level 6 to level 9, ranging from Environmental Science to Pharmaceutical Science, which offer our students excellent career opportunities and further education development’.
For further information go to www.scifest.ie.
Caption for photo above: Eamonn Sweeney from Jesus and Mary Secondary School Enniscrone, Co Sligo with Aoibhean Bird from Science Foundation Ireland. Eamonn won the SFI/ Discover Science and Engineering Best Project Award at SciFest2013@ITSligo with his project ‘Project Investigating the effects of a metronome, delivered by a mobile phone speaker on CPR quality, and attitudes towards delivering CPR in untrained bystanders’.