5th February, 2014 – Minster for Research and Innovation, Seán Sherlock TD today called on students throughout the country to put their knowledge of science to the test and enter SciFest 2014. Now in its seventh year as a national project, SciFest is an all-inclusive, all-island science competition where second-level students showcase science, technology, engineering and maths projects at a series of one day science fairs held regionally in the 14 Institutes of Technology and the University of Ulster, Derry. The winners from each regional science fair go on to compete at a national final in November. The national final winner(s) of SciFest 2014 will be presented with a trophy and will represent Ireland at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) 2015 in Pittsburgh. Intel Ireland has been a main sponsor of the program since it first began.
2013 saw a record number of students and schools taking part, with 5,368 students exhibiting 2,262 projects in schools and Institutes of Technology across the country. The SciFest 2013 national final winner was Paul Clarke from Raheny, Dublin; he solved a mathematical problem that has been baffling mathematicians since the 1930s. His discovery has taken us a step closer to solving the Travelling Salesman Problem, which has applications in business models including computer routing and networking. Paul also won the top award at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition 2014.
A second project by Limerick student, Conor Foy, was also selecetd this year to participate at the Intel ISEF event in Los Angeles in May. Conor, who is a student at Coláiste Chiaráin in Croom, developed a system to improve the performance of rowing crews. Students wishing to follow in Paul’s and Conor’s footsteps can log on to the SciFest website – www.scifest.ie – and download an entry form. Completed entry forms must be submitted by Friday 7th March.
Speaking at the launch event of Scifest 2014 which took place in Tullamore College, Co. Offaly, Minister Sherlock said “The Government’s Action Plan for Jobs stresses the importance of STEM in providing the skills necessary to create high quality jobs for the economy. SciFest helps spark the imagination of students in the areas of Maths and Science. We need to create the link in students’ minds between STEM subjects and really exciting careers. SciFest is a great way to achieve this”.
The aim of SciFest is to create a science fair experience that is inclusive, accessible and inspires excellence. It gives students of all levels the opportunity to develop research skills and associated skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, presentation skills and teamwork. SciFest provides teachers with an opportunity to promote science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects in an interesting, innovative and hands-on way.
Also speaking at the launch of the 2014 competition Sheila Porter, SciFest CEO said “Since SciFest was launched nationwide six years ago it has gone from strength to strength. I am continually amazed by the passion and dedication demonstrated by the students. SciFest is a celebration of STEM subjects. It encourages students to push the boundaries of the classroom, use their knowledge of science, investigate and be creative in their projects. The achievement of these students is an inspiration to us all and is a tribute to them and to the hard work and support of their teachers.”
Brendan Cannon, Director of Corporate Affairs at Intel Ireland added “Intel is delighted to once again support Scifest this year. We believe that the programme provides an important platform for young people right across Ireland to engage in scientific learning in an exciting and practical way. Through participation at SciFest events students are developing the types of 21 century skills, such as communication, creativity, problem solving and teamwork, that will be invaluable to them in our rapidly changing society, both now and in the future”.
Minister Sean Sherlock is pictured at Tullamore College, Co. Offaly for the launch of SciFest 2014
A student gets to grips with a vandergraph at Tullamore College, Co. Offaly at the launch of SciFest 2014
Further images can be found here: Scifest Launch 2014 – a set on Flickr
The closing date for entries from students is Friday 7th March; entry forms can be downloaded from the SciFest website, www.scifest.ie, and completed forms should be sent to the students’ chosen venue.
SciFest is a series of one day science fairs, funded primarily by Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) Discover programme and Intel. It is also supported by a number of other companies and organisations. For a full list of exhibition dates click here.
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