SciFest 2023 National Final

SciFest 2023 National Final

Sixth year student’s project examining peatland restoration wins SciFest 2023

~ Jack Shannon will represent Ireland in Los Angeles, California at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair 2024 ~

Friday 24th November – Jack Shannon, a sixth year student from Clongowes Wood College was this afternoon named SciFest STEM Champion 2023, for his project ‘Ireland’s Carbon Sinks – Remote Sensing for Monitoring Peatland Restoration’ and will go on to represent Ireland at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles, California next year.

Supported by Intel Ireland, Boston Scientific and EirGrid, SciFest is the largest, most inclusive all-island STEM fair programme for second-level students in Ireland. SciFest is free to enter and open to everyone across the island of Ireland, no matter their background or circumstances. The most important thing for SciFest is the participation of students and encouraging their interest in STEM in a fun and engaging way.

Jack’s study utilised remote sensing techniques for monitoring peatland restoration in Ireland. Two distinct peatland sites, Clara bog and Keelbanada bog, were investigated to assess the effectiveness of multispectral, LiDAR, SAR, and InSAR analyses in tracking restoration progress and degradation. These methodologies supply regular and precise data on restoration progress and degradation areas, enhancing restoration planning and management.

His project 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.

The National Final, held in the Marino Conference Centre in Dublin today, was attended by student finalists from all over Ireland and Jack was presented with the SciFest STEM Champion 2023 Award by Sheila Porter, SciFest Founder and CEO. Jack secured his place at the National Final after their victory at the SciFest regional final in SciFest@DCU.

This year marks the 18th year of the SciFest programme which saw students participating in local and regional SciFest STEM fairs across the country. Since launching in 2006, more than 100,000 students have participated in the competition, which represents an average year-on-year increase of almost 20% in participation. Jack of the almost 12,000 students who took part in the SciFest programme this year.

Sheila Porter, SciFest CEO, said: On behalf of SciFest, I extend my heartiest congratulations to Jack SciFest STEM Champion 2023. Your accomplishment is not just a testament to your individual brilliance and dedication, but also a shining example of how young minds like yours are crucial in shaping our understanding of the world and paving the way for future innovations. As you prepare to compete at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles, California, know that you will provide inspiration for your peers who may be future scientists and innovators themselves. It is imperative to acknowledge and thank your parents and the teachers who have played a pivotal role in your journey so far. Their unwavering support, guidance, and belief in your potential have been instrumental in this success. Once again, congratulations on this remarkable achievement!”

Norma Foley TD, Minister for Education said: Science is the cornerstone of modern life. It challenges us to question, to explore, and to innovate. Jack, you have embodied these principles through your remarkable project, demonstrating an exceptional level of ingenuity and scientific acumen. As Jack prepares to step onto the prestigious international stage, remember that you are not just showcasing a project; you are carrying the spirit of innovation and the promise of a brighter future for STEM fields. We wish you all the very best and look forward with great anticipation to your continued success and contributions to the world of STEM.”

Other award winners at the SciFest 2023 National Final were:

  • Yasmine Odugbesan who won the SciFest 2023 STEM Champion Award Runner-Up for her project on 'A Lycopene Based Sunscreen to Prevent Skin Damage Caused by UV Radiation'
  • Meabh O Sullivan and Sarah Harte who won the Berlin Long Night of Science Award for their project on ‘Cycle4Charge’
  • Emma Greaney and Madison Brouder who won the Boston Scientific Medical Devices Award for their project on ‘Rehabilitation Nation’
  • Rebecca Cullen, Freyja Cleary and Clementine van Steenberge who won the EirGrid Cleaner Climate for their project on ‘Making Waves
  • Kamaya Gogna who won the Intel Technology Award for her project on ‘Using Machine Learning to Identify Radiolucencies on Panoramic Dental Radiographs (OPGs)’
  • Leah Newman and Craig Lawlor, who won the SciFest STEM Outreach Video Award for their project on 'Can Arthritis Sufferers Benefit from Leverage?'
  • Olivia Rocha da Rocha Brito who won the SciFest STEM Outreach Video Award Runner-Up for her project on 'Investigating Genetics in Glioblastoma
  • Mya Doocey and Mia Galligan who won the SciFest Social Sciences Award for their project on ‘P.Eriod: Effect of the Menstrual Cycle on Participation and Performance During Physical Education in Schools and Clubs’
  • Ciara Cannon who won the SciFest Life Sciences Award for her project on ‘Using Silicon Nanoparticles to Create a Self-Sustaining Antimicrobial Surface’
  • Gabriela Giuliese who won the Technological Higher Education Award for her project on 'The Effects of Hard Water on Hair'
  • Nikishi Polgolla who won the Irish Science Teachers' Association Award for her project on 'An Investigation into the use of Herbal Plant Extracts that are Effective Against Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria in Skin Infections'
  • Angelina O'Neill who won the SciFest Junior Scientist of the Future Award for her project on 'Sustainability: Biomaterials and Bioplastics - A Focus Towards a Circular Economy'
  • Emma Greaney and Madison Brouder who won the SciFest Junior Technologist of the Future Award for their project on 'Rehabilitation Nation'

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