Fatima Karimi From Tullamore College.

Tullamore student is TUS Athlone SciFest winner

A Tullamore student has come out tops from over 160 projects entered in the recent TUS Athlone SciFest event.

Under the guidance of teacher Elaine Howlin, Fatima’s project titled 'Growing the Future! Investigating the growth of mycelium packaging using button mushrooms' analysed if mushrooms are a feasible eco-friendly alternative to plastic packaging.

Technological University of the Shannon (TUS) this week played host to over 750 students who attended SciFest 2023, Ireland’s largest second-level STEM fair programme.

Welcoming students from across the Midlands and Midwest; TUS Athlone, Moylish and Thurles campuses crowned their regional winners, who will now go on to compete in the SciFest national final in November.

An all-island STEM initiative, SciFest fosters active, collaborative and inquiry-based learning among second-level students. The programme operates throughout the school year and, being locally based and free-to-enter, is highly inclusive and accessible.

Fatima Karimi from Tullamore College was crowned the winner of TUS Athlone SciFest where 161 projects were on display, with over 400 students in attendance, the largest in the country.

Aidan Oscar & Taha Nije from Coláiste Chiarain, Croom, Co Limerick took the winning title at the TUS Moylish SciFest, which welcomed over 190 secondary school students from across the Midwest.

Their project, ‘Heart monitor ECG using arduino’ worked on creating a small hand held modular compact heart monitor device to keep track of one's cardiovascular health. The students were mentored by teacher Ms Edel Farrell.

Chen HongYu, a student at Rockwell College in Cashel, Co.Tipperary was awarded the top prize at TUS Thurles SciFest where 174 secondary school students participated. Under the guidance of teacher Helen Murray, Chen’s project analysed the point cloud map fusion algorithm of multi-UAV VSLAM in a dynamic scene.

Commenting on the caliber of this year’s entries, Dr Noreen Morris, co-ordinator of SciFest at the TUS Athlone campus, said: “As always, the projects entered by the students were impressive, engaging and thought-provoking. Students from across the region demonstrated their passion for STEM, which was evident from the high standard of research that went into this year’s entries.

"SciFest is a competition that aims to encourage students to develop an interest in STEM while prioritising inclusivity and inquiry-based learning, and it is a competition we are very proud to support”.

Dr Pauline Ryan, SciFest co-ordinator at the TUS Moylish campus added: “Every year I am so impressed by the high standard of research that goes into the entries and 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, as it not only encourages the students to learn more about STEM but it is all inclusive.”

Winners from the national final will go on to compete at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in America and in the Hong Kong Global Youth Science and Technology Bowl (GYSTB) and attend the Long Night of Science in Berlin. The SciFest programme is funded primarily by Intel Ireland, Boston Scientific and EirGrid.

Sheila Porter, SciFest Founder and CEO commented that SciFest is a competition that aims to encourage second-level students to develop an interest in STEM, while prioritising inclusivity and inquiry-based learning.

"The programme has been running for 17 years and 2023 marks the 18th year of the competition. More than 90,000 students have participated in SciFest since it was first launched in 2006. Participation in 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.”