Monaghan student Louis Madden was named the winner of SciFest 2015 for his project that looked at whether genetic testing and DNA research can be carried out simply, cheaply and efficiently
Louis Madden, a fifth-year student from Largy College, Clones, Co Monaghan, was recently named the overall winner of SciFest 2015, for his project that looked at whether genetic testing and DNA research can be carried out simply, cheaply and efficiently.
Louis Madden explains his project to Minister Richard Bruton TD
SciFest is an all-island science initiative which fosters active, collaborative and inquiry-based learning among second level students. This year saw a record number of more than 7,200 students exhibiting their projects in local and regional science fairs across the country. Madden was one of 48 students who went on to exhibit their 27 STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) projects at the national final held in the Marino Conference Centre in Dublin.
Intel’s Communications Manager Sarah Sexton and Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of SFI, presented Louis with his prize – the SciFest 2015 Grand Award which includes the opportunity to represent Ireland at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona. Loui’s teacher Sharon Magennis will also have the opportunity to attend the Intel ISEF event.
Madden found that important genetic research was often limited by the cost of the necessary equipment. He spent just under €150 on cheap and recycled material to build several pieces of laboratory equipment including a vortex, centrifuge, PCR, transilluminator, gel box with power supply and gel camera.
Using this equipment, he isolated and amplified chloroplast DNA using a proprietary DNA extraction kit. Comparing his results with those of other tests of the same material he demonstrated that genetic testing could be done in a simpler, cheaper and more effective manner.
Sheila Porter, SciFest CEO, said: “Each year the standard of projects exhibited at SciFest gets better and better, the students really are making it difficult for the judges to pick a winner. All projects exhibited show that when students engage with STEM outside the classroom, they bring their learning to a new level and produce amazing results.
“Participation in SciFest helps students to develop the skills sets essential for the next generation of creative problem solvers and entrepreneurs. The innovation and the creativity on display at the national final is a testament to the hard-work and dedication put in by the students and their teachers. Louis will be representing Ireland at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in the USA next year and I am confident he will do us proud.”
Speaking about the Scifest initiative Sarah Sexton from Intel Ireland remarked that: “For the last number of years the winners of SciFest have gone on to represent Ireland at the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair. All of these winners have consistently demonstrated the excellent creative thinking skills of our second level students and the dedication that their parents and teachers have to promoting inquiry based learning. SciFest creates opportunities for students to work cooperatively with others on areas of local, national and global scientific and engineering interest and Intel is delighted to be a part of this national initiative.”
SciFest is funded primarily by the SFI Discover Programme, Intel Ireland and Boston Scientific.
Scifest Grand Final winner Louis Madden and his teacher Sharon Magennis are pictured with Sarah Sexton, Intel, and Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of SFI
Grand Final participants Adam Burke and Eoin Hayes are pictured with their project
Claire Nichols from Sutton Park is pictured with her project
Further images can be found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/intel_irl/albums/72157661394200770
SciFest is a series of one-day science fairs for second-level students hosted at local level in schools and at regional level in the Institutes of Technology (ITs) and the University of Ulster, culminating in a national competition for the overall winners from the ITs. The aim of the project is to encourage a love of science through active, collaborative, inquiry-based learning and to provide a forum for students at local/regional level to present and display their scientific investigations. www.scifest.ie
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Media contact: Sarah Sexton | email@example.com | + 353 1 606 8537