History of SciFest
SciFest was the brainchild of the current SciFest CEO, Sheila Porter. Based on her experience of the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition and her involvement with the Intel Educator Academy in the United States, she approached the Institute of Technology Tallaght (ITT) in 2006 with an idea for a local science exhibition for second level students. A successful pilot SciFest science exhibition was hosted by ITT in 2006 and repeated in 2007. With funding from the Discover Science and Engineering programme and Intel Ireland Sheila Porter was seconded from her teaching post in Loreto College, St Stephen’s Green, to Intel in September 2007 to work on SciFest on a full-time basis.
The model proved highly scalable and cost effective. In 2008 SciFest ran in nine Institutes of Technology (ITs). In 2009 the number of ITs involved increased to 14 and an additional SciFest was hosted in Northern Ireland. With the numbers increasing so rapidly it was decided to expand the SciFest project in 2011 by introducing two new levels of participation, school-based (SciFest@School) and a national final.
In 2012 Sheila’s secondment ended, five years being the maximum allowed by the Department of Education and Skills, and she decided to resign her teaching post and continue to work with SciFest. With her husband, George, she set up a not-for-profit company, SciFest Ltd, to run the SciFest project.
In 2012 the project developed an international aspect with participation in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in the USA. This aspect of the project was further expanded in 2015 with participation in the International Environment and Sustainability Project Olympiad (INESPO) in the Netherlands.
In SciFest 2017 almost 4000 students, encouraged and supported by 440 teachers from 285 schools, entered over 1600 projects at SciFest@College STEM fairs. SciFest 2017 also saw a further dramatic increase in participation in the SciFest@School strand of the programme. Over 7000 students exhibited over 3000 projects at SciFest@School STEM fairs in 67 schools. Overall, between the two strands of the project, SciFest 2017 involved 10,000 students presenting some 4400 projects.
In 2013 SciFest was greatly honoured by the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, very graciously agreeing to become the sole Patron of the project.
Aim of SciFest
The aim of SciFest is to encourage a love of science, technology, engineering and maths through active, collaborative, inquiry-based learning and to provide a forum for second-level students at local/regional level to present and display their scientific investigations.
Participation in SciFest helps students to develop an interest in, and enthusiasm for, STEM. It allows them to learn while pursuing an aspect of the subject in which they have a particular interest. It also encourages the development of the skills sets that are required to address future global concerns of food, water and energy security, create wealth to sustain growth and to provide better health services and better infrastructure. Addressing such global concerns will create and drive the jobs and skills needs of the future.
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