- Paul Clarke, a student of St. Paul’s College Raheny has picked up the top prize at SciFest 2013
- Paul will go forward to represent Ireland at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) 2014 in Los Angeles
- 2013 saw close to 5,300 students from 230 schools exhibit their projects as part of the Scifest program
Last Friday November 22nd a Raheny student, Paul Clarke, picked up the top prize at SciFest Grand Final event held in the Science Gallery in Dublin. Paul has solved a problem related to the Travelling Salesman Problem, which has been baffling mathematics since the 1930s. His discovery has taken us a step closer to solving the Travelling Salesman Problem, also known as the Hamiltonian Cycle Problem, which has applications in business models including computer routing and networking. Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government presented Paul his prize – the SciFest@SFI Discover Award and a trip to Los Angeles where he will represent Ireland at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) 2014.
Over 15 projects were exhibited in the Science Gallery as part of the event and all students received an Excellence in STEM plaque by Professor Ferguson.
For the winning project Paul adopted a theoretical approach with a focus on theorem-proving techniques to develop an algorithm for the Hamiltonian cycle problem. He presented the final algorithm using the Python programming language. Paul also reported on the application of his results in other areas of computer science and maths. He also investigated a number of other problems, including the traveling salesman problem and the problem of counting Hamiltonian cycles in graphs.
The Scifest Grand Final – SciFest@SFI Discover – gave the winning projects from each of the regional SciFest@College fairs an opportunity to showcase their projects at the Science Gallery, Trinity College Dublin.
Speaking at the event Sheila Porter, SciFest Project Manager said ‘‘Great science is characterised not by rote-learning and memorisation but by creativity and investigation. The aim of SciFest is to create a science fair experience that is inclusive, accessible and inspires excellence. 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. SciFest provides teachers with an opportunity to promote STEM in the classroom in an interesting, innovative and hands-on way”.
Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government said: “We are seeing a steady rise in the numbers of students selecting science and related courses at third level and this is also reflected in the increased participation in SciFest, year-on-year. Encouragingly, 2013 saw close to 5,300 students from 230 schools exhibit their projects at regional level in ITs and schools around the country, and the 15 projects exhibited here today are of a very high standard. Paul’s project was exceptional and it shows how good students are at thinking outside the box and most importantly that science can be exciting! I congratulate him on his success today and I am confident that he will do Ireland proud at the International Science and Engineering Fair.”
Brendan Cannon, Corporate Affairs Director, Intel Ireland remarked that ‘SciFest creates opportunities for students to work cooperatively with others on areas of local, national and/or global scientific and engineering interest. Through participation at SciFest events students develop skills sets that will inspire and shape the next generation of creative problem solvers and entrepreneurs. Such skills set will be required to address future global concerns of food, water and energy security, create wealth to sustain growth and provide better health services and better infrastructure”.
Intel is a founding partner and key sponsor of the Scifest initiative – for more information about the program visit http://www.scifest.ie.
Scifest 2013 Finalists
Rachel Byrne and Aoife Ryan Presentation Secondary School, Thurles, Co. Tipperary
Sara Ward, Dallaire and Brenna Daily, Colaiste Cholmcille, Co. Donegal
Further images can be found here: Scifest Final 2013 – a set on Flickr
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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