Overview of SciFest 2015

 

SciFest had another very successful year in 2015. The number of students participating reached over 7200, an increase of 19% on the previous year. Each of these students, either individually or in groups of two or three, took an idea, developed a project and presented it to a panel of judges. In all, some 258 schools and over 400 teachers were actively involved in SciFest at local and/or regional level. Since the project launched nationwide in 2008 over 32,000 students have taken part.

The number of schools hosting in-house SciFest@School science fairs increased by 14% to a total of 40. SciFest supported these schools with judges, certificates and awards for students, and promotional materials.

As in previous years SciFest@College fairs took place in 15 regional venues with almost 3600 students participating. A 16th regional venue has been added in 2016 with DCU hosting a SciFest@College fair.

A very successful national final in November saw Louis Madden (pictured above with Minister Richard Brudton, TD) from Largy College in Clones take the top prize. Louis will represent Ireland at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Phoenix, Arizona next May. The SEAI International Environment and Sustainability Project Olympiad (INESPO) award was won by Lúc de Barra from Coláiste Raithín in Bray. Lúc will represent Ireland at the INESPO competition in the Netherlands in June.

Christopher Carragher from Our Lady’s Secondary School in Castleblaney, winner of the SciFest 2014 national final, represented Ireland at Intel ISEF in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in May and was placed second in his category. In addition to a cash prize Christopher will have an asteroid named after him.

The winners of the INESPO award at the 2014 SciFest national final, Niamh Nyham, Aoife Dolan and Ellen Fitzgerald from Sacred Heart Secondary School, Clonakilty, represented Ireland at INESPO in Amsterdam in May and were awarded a first place gold medal.

SciFest enjoyed an enhanced media presence in 2015 with over 420 media placements, including on the RTE TV News, on Irish TV and on local radio. In addition to the traditional media SciFest had a significant presence on social media, including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.  During the year the SciFest website had a total of over 31,000 hits.

An independent external evaluation of the SciFest project carried out by Sinéad Begley & Associates during the year concluded that:

“SciFest is fulfilling its mission to ‘provide an inclusive and accessible platform for students in Irish schools to explore the STEM disciplines in an investigative way and to present their findings to a wider audience, thus supporting the development of key skills, including critical thinking, problem-solving, communication and collaboration’.”

 

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