Over 2,000 Students Expected To Participate In SciFest 2009

The organisers of SciFest have put out the last call for second level students to submit their entry forms for this year’s competition ahead of the deadline of 13 March, with over 2,000 students expected to enter this year. SciFest is a one day festival of science which is held in Institutes of Technology all over the country as a regional equivalent of the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition, with local second level students demonstrating their projects and participating in a competition. 1612 students exhibited over 680 projects in nine Institutes of Technology – Athlone, Carlow, Cork, Dublin, Limerick, Sligo, Tallaght, Tipperary and Waterford – in SciFest 2008.

Due to the success of the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition, SciFest has been created to cater for the excess demand and provides an additional forum for students who wish to exhibit their work and experience the excitement of sharing their findings with other like-minded students. SciFest has the additional advantage that it is locally based which makes it more accessible to students and allows them to view the facilities and courses available in their local Institute of Technology. This year Dundalk, Tralee, Blanchardstown, Letterkenny and Galway/Mayo Institutes of Technology will also be hosting SciFest in response to local demand. Students should visit the website, www.scifest.ie for venue information, as subject to the number of entries additional locations may be added.

Sheila Porter, SciFest National Coordinator, said “The aim of SciFest is to encourage a love of science and technology by offering students a chance to show off their projects to their peers and local community, whilst competing for national awards. SciFest is also tied to the Junior Certificate as students projects can be used in the practical work element of the new science curriculum. Hands on activities in science are the key to developing students’ interest in the subject as they take learning out of the textbooks and link science and technology back to their everyday lives.

The competition also creates a valuable link with Institutes of Technology and industry, thereby offering participating students the chance to experience what studying science, engineering or ICT courses is like and to see what employment opportunities are available. Students of all abilities and backgrounds are able to experience the magic of science and technology thus lowering the barriers and bringing the talents of diverse populations into the knowledge economy pipeline,” Porter concluded.

An online dimension has been added to this year’s competition, following a successful pilot last year of Project Blogger. Students can create their own science blogs to keep a record of their SciFest entry and share their experiences in science with classmates from their own school and from other schools around Ireland. The blog makes it easy for students to store their SciFest project images, ideas, graphs, video files etc. as part of their online science diary. They can then use the blog as part of their exhibition at the SciFest event.

SciFest is jointly funded by Intel and Discover Science and Engineering. It is supported by a number of other partners and the Institutes of Technology. The project thus creates a valuable link between the second and third level education sectors and between education and industry.

Please visit www.scifest.ie for further information and for entry forms ahead of the deadline of 13 March. Projects are not due for submission until the end of April.

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