SciFest Projects During COVID-19

SciFest Projects During COVID-19

COVID-19 Friendly Project Ideas/Projects to do at Home
Not only in Ireland but all over the world the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the temporary closures of schools, third-level colleges, research institutions and businesses. This means that some SciFest project ideas which are research lab or school lab based may not be possible, but this should not limit the potential of your SciFest project. There are so many ways to carry out safe meaningful, scientific research at home. Of course these projects must be done in compliance with Covid-19 restrictions - see note below.

You can Measure Almost Anything Using your Phone!
If you have a smartphone, you have a multi-faceted tool that can be converted into for example, a decibel meter to measure sound intensity, a light meter to measure light intensity, a slow-motion camera to record movement, all with various free apps. Many of you could have a smart watch, which is often able to measure important physiological data such as pulse, heart rate, sleep, etc.

A free app called Arduino Science Journal alone contains:

  • An accelerometer (measures acceleration)
  • Barometer (measures atmospheric pressure)
  • Light intensity meter
  • Compass
  • Magnetometer (measures properties of a magnetic field)
  • Pitch meter (measures frequency)
  • Decibel meter (measures sound intensity/loudness)

See also link.

You are Surrounded by Nature
If you have a garden or local park, woodland or bog, or live near a beach there are endless possibilities for a safe ecological field study, or even an environmental impact study. There is no limit.

For information on how to carry out a study of an ecosystem see link.

Do you Spend a lot of Time on your Computer?
Many data analysis and computer science projects need little more than access to a computer. Reputable public datasets can be a good starting point for data analysis projects.

Examples include:

What is your Passion?
What is your passion? What are your interests? Football? Ballet? Reading? Perhaps research and investigations have been done in this area before, perhaps not. One way to find out is to type keywords into to see journals and articles that have been written on the topic you are interested in. Some journals, or at least their abstracts, are free to view and could inspire you to extend and build upon the existing research.

The Society for Science
Click on this link for resources, advice, and stories of inspiration on completing research outside of a traditional laboratory environment

And Finally, Some Project Examples

  1. An investigation into the density of lichens in urban areas as a bioindicator of air quality
    • The presence of lichens on trees and rocks means the air quality in an area is quite good.
    • Are there lichens in your locality? Could you compare different sites in lichen density? Is there already research done in your area on this? If so, how long ago was the research done and could you compare your findings?

  1. Do birds see in colour? An investigation to see whether birds have preference for certain coloured bird feeders
    • Songbirds that visit our gardens have a surprisingly good perception of colour.
    • Do certain species have a favourite colour?

  1. A quantitative survey using moth traps to determine the effect of weather on moths
    • We have a staggering 1350 species of moths in Ireland. New studies show that moths are arguably as important pollinators as bees. You can easily see moths by simply hanging an old white bed sheet outside overnight with a lamp or torch shining on the sheet. Many moths will be attracted and stay on the sheet.
    • How many moths can you count from one night? Over a week, how many moths appear each night? Does the weather affect their appearance? Can you identify any species? Can you think of other factors that could influence moth populations?

  1. The effect of solar light intensity on the sound level of the dawn chorus.
    • Every spring, songbirds such as blackbirds start to sing in the early morning and late evening to proclaim their territories and look for a mate. The increase in daylight hours and increase in sunlight intensity causes their bodies to produce hormones which ‘tell them’ to start singing.
    • You can download light intensity meters and sound (decibel meters) on your phone.
    • Is there a direct relationship between brighter mornings and louder birdsong? Our urban areas have never been brighter at night; do streetlights affect birdsong? Which birds sing earliest in the year?

  1. The effect of temperatures on storage and maintenance of hurleys
    • Hurleys are typically made of ash, which is a natural and porous substance that can be susceptible to changes in its surrounding environment.
    • What are the optimum conditions for storing hurleys? Would temperature affect a hurley?

  1. An analysis of the maximum load of biodegradable bin bags
    • Biodegradable bin liners are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to the plastic bin liners.
    • Each brand suggests the volume of bin liner, but which can hold the greatest mass without breaking?

  1. The effect of the ‘Calm app’ or alternatives on heart rate prior to sleep
    • Sleep stories or even calming music are seen as a way to relax people before they drift off to sleep.
    • If you have a smart watch, there are numerous apps that can measure pulse, heart rate and see if sleep solutions work

  1. Are second-level students’ subject choices influenced by gender?
    • It is often suggested that boys gravitate to certain subjects whilst girls gravitate to others.
    • The breakdown of subject uptake somewhat confirms this, but are there other factors involved?

  1. Does the length of a hurley affect how far the sliotar will travel?
    • Poc Fada or ‘long puck’ is held every year and tests some of the most skilled hurlers in the country.
    • A hurley size for a player is usually determined by measuring the position of the players wrist to the ground.
    • Would a longer hurley make the sliotar go farther?

  1. An analysis of optimal glove design for Gaelic football
    • Gloves offer additional grip in Gaelic football. Are there any household items that you could use to adapt the gloves for better grip?

Health and Safety
As your health and safety, as well as that of all those involved in the SciFest@College programme, is our main priority it is essential that you adhere strictly to the advice provided by the HSE when participating in the SciFest@College 2021 online competition. The nature and extent of the current crisis changes almost daily and the guidance provided by the HSE changes accordingly. It is therefore essential that you check the HSE website regularly.

Safety in the Home
Participation in SciFest@College 2021 does not require you to carry out practical work in your home that is normally carried out in a school laboratory setting, nor should you undertake such activities. Any practical activities that you do undertake must be safe and must be carried out under the appropriate supervision of a responsible adult.

27 2022
SciFest@School in Sandymount Park Educate Together Secondary School, Beech Road, Sandymount, Dublin 4
27 2022
SciFest@School in Presentation Secondary School, Ballyphehane, Cork
09 2022
SciFest@School in St. Raphaela's Secondary School, St. Raphaela’s Road, Stillorgan, Co. Dublin
10 2022
SciFest@School in St Andrews College, Booterstown Ave, Blackrock, Co. Dublin
Michael D. Higgins, Patron of SciFest
SciFest is a registered charity.

RCN 20081270

Michael D. Higgins
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