Students from three Offaly secondary schools were amongst the big winners at the Scifest 2009 competition, which took place last week in Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT).
SciFest is a one day festival of science, which includes a competition and exhibition of projects, a selection of science talks, science demonstrations in the college laboratories and a prize-giving ceremony. More than 200 students from 12 schools throughout the Midlands entered SciFest at AIT.
St Mary"s Secondary School, Edenderry; Coláiste Naomh Cormac, Kilcormac; and Gallen Community School, Ferbane claimed some of the most significant prizes at the prestigious event.
Three separate teams from St Mary"s Secondary School were amongst the prize winners. Jessica Duffy, Ruth Manley and Ciara Conlon won the Discover Sensors Award for their project "Bun-G-Force". Their prize included a trophy, €150, as well as a laptop for their teacher, Mary Farrell. Senior cycle students Orlaith Nic Aonghusa, Aine Usher and Imelda Donoghue were highly commended for their project "Get in tune with your fork"; while junior cycle students James Hickey, Dylan Goretti and Darragh Hacket were similarly highly commended for "Investigation of the sounds guitars make".
Kilcormac"s Shane Harte from Coláiste Naomh Cormac was doubly successful: winning the BT Best Communicator Award for "Developing a virtual library" and claiming first place in the senior category. His school mate, Francis Egan, came a very close second in the senior category with "Evaluating high performance bulls".
Ferbane students, Ailbhe Doolan, Niamh Larkin and Noelle Egan, in Gallen Community College also proudly flew the flag for the Faithful County, by winning the cosmetics-related award for "The effect of hair dye on hair".
Sheila Porter, SciFest National Coordinator, congratulated the winning students.
'Science and technology has been identified as being key to the country"s long term growth and to the development of Ireland"s smart economy. As such, it is incredibly exciting to see the massive scale and breadth of the entries in this year"s SciFest and with greater competition than any year previous, all congratulations are due to this year"s winners. Together, our young scientists point to a very bright future for Ireland"s science and technology sectors,' she said.
Dr Paul Tomkins, Head of the School of Science at AIT, said that the institute was delighted to support students" engagement with research.
'Scientific research enables people to seek answers to questions which fascinate and intrigue them. That process of formulating research questions, thinking through a research methodology and testing a hypothesis is a journey of discovery and wonder. The ideas explored by the students in their SciFest projects are some of life"s great mysteries and it is encouraging to see how the students supported by their teachers undertook their task,' he said.
Up to 2,000 students entered SciFest 2009 which took place in fourteen institutes of technology around the country - Athlone, Blanchardstown, Dublin, Dundalk, Carlow, Cork, Galway/Mayo, Letterkenny, Limerick, Sligo, Tallaght, Tipperary, Waterford, and Tralee. Nearly 900 projects were entered in total in 2009, compared to 680 projects in 2008.
Please visit www.scifest.ie for further information.