Success on the International Stage

Success on the International Stage

SciFest Winner Ruth Madden Takes the Top Prize at the Hong Kong Global Youth Science and Technology Bowl 2020

3 August 2020 – SciFest THEA award winner, Ruth Madden from Largy College, in Clones, Co. Monaghan represented Ireland and SciFest in the virtual Hong Kong Global Youth Science and Technology Bowl (GYSTB) 2020 last week and claimed a Gold Award for her project ‘The Microplastic Filter - A Small Solution to a Global Problem’.

Recognising the prevalence and impact of plastic in our environment as a matter of growing domestic and international concern Ruth’s project focussed on reducing the volume of microplastics entering the environment through wastewater from domestic washing machines. Ruth’s aim was to design and construct a permanent, cost efficient, low maintenance filtration unit capable of intercepting microplastics in wastewater. After several redesigns and prototypes Ruth’s final filtration unit is capable of intercepting microplastics as small as 0.1 mm/100 microns and can be retrofitted to existing standard domestic wastewater infrastructure. Ruth has continued to develop her project since her win at the SciFest National Final in Association with Science Foundation Ireland.

GYSTB is organized by The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups and was broadcasted live globally on 1 August. The competition attracted entries from 22 countries and regions across the globe. Ninety-three finalists were selected for online judging. Two other Irish students succeeded in winning awards having qualified for the finals after winning at the 2019 SciFest National Final. Timothy McGrath from Killorglin Community College, Kerry won a first-place award in the Biology and Chemistry category and Alice Shaughnessy, Calasanctius College, Galway a third-place award in the Physics and Engineering category.

Speaking about her Award, Ruth said: "I'm delighted to have received the Gold Award in Physics and Engineering at the inaugural Global Youth Science and Technology competition in Hong Kong. The Award though, does not just recognise my efforts, but is an acknowledgement of the essential support and encouragement given and shown to me by, not only my family, but by the principal and staff of Largy College and in particular, Ms. Colette Smith, my science teacher, whose never ending enthusiasm and willingness to help was crucial to my success during the difficult academic environment which arose from COVID-19. It would be remiss of me not to also express my sincere thanks to Science Foundation Ireland and SciFest who through their unbelievable support, afforded me this wonderful opportunity."

Sheila Porter, SciFest Founder and CEO commented: “Winning this award is a great achievement and we are so proud of Ruth. She continued to work on her project after the SciFest National Final and when we were invited to select three projects by the GYSTB we had no hesitation in selecting Ruth’s as one of the three. She has developed a truly innovative project and we are delighted that she had the opportunity to compete on the international stage. Well done also to Timothy and Alice on their awards. We wish Ruth, Timothy and Alice every success for the future.”

Science Foundation Ireland supports SciFest in its programme of encouraging and engaging young people in STEM. Speaking about Ruth’s award, Dr Ruth Freeman, Director of Science for Society at Science Foundation Ireland said: “I want to congratulate Ruth on her fantastic achievement in winning the Gold Award at the Global Youth Science and Technology competition in Hong Kong 2020. Congratulations also to Timothy and Alice on their success in the competition. It is wonderful to see young Irish innovators competing successfully at a global level. Science Foundation Ireland is delighted to support SciFest. We know that engaging young people at an early age is crucial and through participating in SciFest students have the opportunity to make their interests a reality by developing projects that push the boundaries of science in new and exciting ways.”

There is an opportunity for the general public to vote for their three favourite projects for the 'Visitor's Favourite Award'.

Please vote for Alice, Timothy and Ruth at

Alice: Project Number IAPE19

Timothy: Project Numnber: IABC10

Ruth: Project Number IAPE54

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