SciFest 2023 STEM Champion

SciFest 2023 STEM Champion

Jack Shannon, SciFest 2023 STEM Champion

Jack Shannon, a sixth-year student in Clongowes Wood College in Clane, Co. Kildare, participated in the SciFest 2023 National Final as the winner of the SciFest@College event in DCU in May. Jack captivated the judges with his project entitled, "Ireland’s Carbon Sinks – Remote Sensing for Monitoring Peatland Restoration". The project involved the application of remote sensing techniques to monitor peatland restoration in Ireland. With a keen focus on two significant peatland sites, Clara bog and Keelbanada bog, Jack utilised multispectral, LiDAR, SAR and InSAR analyses to assess the progress and degradation of these vital ecosystems.

Multispectral analysis, employing readily accessible Copernicus and Sentinel Hub software, proved efficient in identifying changes in vegetation cover and moisture content in both restored and degraded areas. LiDAR analysis can be used for high-resolution elevation data, facilitating the identification of surface subsidence in degraded zones. Additionally, SAR analysis can be used to detect changes in land use and subsidence, while InSAR analysis effectively monitored land height alterations over time.

The InSAR analysis of Clara bog revealed promising restoration efforts on the East side, with a mean land growth velocity of +5.5 mm/year, while the West side indicated ongoing degradation at a mean velocity of -9.4 mm/year. Keelbanada bog's multispectral analysis accurately identified reductions in moisture content and vegetation, indicative of rapid degradation.

Jack concluded that remote sensing techniques encompassing multispectral, LiDAR, SAR and InSAR analyses offer a dependable and cost-effective approach for monitoring peatland restoration and degradation in Ireland. These methodologies supply regular and precise data on restoration progress and degradation areas, thus enhancing restoration planning and management.

His study underscores the potential of remote sensing techniques for monitoring peatland restoration or degradation at multiple scales, contributing to Ireland's commitment to the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Climate and Energy Framework by facilitating comprehensive assessments of progress towards restoration and carbon sequestration targets.

Jack was presented with the SciFest STEM Champion 2023 award by Sheila Porter, SciFest Founder and CEO. Jack’s teacher, Yvonne Nolan, was presented with the SciFest Teacher of Excellence Award in recognition of her commitment to STEM education and student support. In May, Jack will travel with his teacher to Los Angeles, California to represent Ireland on behalf of SciFest at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) 2024. ISEF is the largest pre-college STEM fair in the world, with some 1600 students from over 60 countries competing for a prize fund of $9 million. SciFest has participated in ISEF since 2012, and in that time SciFest students have won thirteen major awards at the competition.

Congratulations to Jack on winning the SciFest 2023 STEM Champion Award and to his teacher, Yvonne Nolan for guiding and nurturing such exceptional talent. This achievement is a testament to the fantastic mentorship and support she provides for all her students. Finally, congratulations to all the students and their dedicated teachers/mentors who qualified to compete at the National Final.

A full list of award winners can be viewed at https://scifest.ie/Page/National-Final-Award-Winners-2023/528616/Index.html

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