SciFest SFI STEM Champion 2020

SciFest SFI STEM Champion 2020

Student’s research into injury rehabilitation wins SciFest 2020

Saturday 21st November – Caoimhín O'Leary, a fifth year student from Ard Scoil na Mara in Tramore, Co. Waterford was this afternoon named the SciFest SFI STEM Champion 2020, for the research and development of an innovative video analysis measurement system for rehabilitating patients after joint injury or joint surgery, and will go on to represent Ireland at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) next May. Funded primarily by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), Intel Ireland, Boston Scientific and Specsavers, SciFest is an all-island STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) initiative which fosters active, collaborative and inquiry-based learning among second-level students.

Through research Caoimhín developed a video analysis measurement system for rehabilitating patients after joint injury or joint surgery. His system uses advanced computer software to measure joint and bone position. This form of joint measurement can be achieved remotely and is less slow and invasive then current physical standards.

In SciFest, second-level students showcase STEM projects at a series of one-day STEM fairs traditionally held locally in schools and regionally at 16 venues in the Institutes of Technology, TU Dublin, DCU and St. Mary’s College, Derry; in 2020 the regional fairs were held virtually. The National Final is traditionally held in Marino Conference Centre in Dublin but was moved online as a result of COVID-19. This year the SciFest National Final took place on a bespoke virtual platform which was custom designed for the Final. This allowed students, teachers, parents and the general public from around the country to view and participate in this year’s event.

Sheila Porter, SciFest CEO, said: “The standard of entries has been extraordinary and it’s great to see scientific innovation and research continue to flourish despite ongoing limitations caused by COVID-19. The aim of SciFest has always been to develop a love of STEM and of inquiry-based learning and every year it is refreshing to see how the students of today continue to love and enjoy immersing themselves in science, technology, engineering and maths. The ongoing pandemic has shown the importance of science to modern societies and the students competing today will be the scientists of tomorrow. I wish to congratulate all the student finalists and I would like to thank all of our participants, their teachers and parents for joining us today; we were delighted to see such great engagement with our new online platform. Finally, I’d like to extend huge congratulations to Caoimhín on his achievement in becoming the SciFest SFI STEM Champion 2020.”

Norma Foley TD, Minister for Education said: “We live in a rapidly changing world and we must respond by preparing our young people with the skills and knowledge to thrive in such an environment. It is really fantastic to see so many young people looking to future careers in STEM fields. These subjects are crucial for equipping our young people with creativity, adaptability, problem-solving and critical thinking – skills which are so important for their future. SciFest is an excellent initiative that supports and enhances these skills in our students. I am very impressed by the standard of projects displayed on the platform and the amount of work that students and, of course, teachers and parents have put into each and every one. I want to congratulate all the students, their families and mentors; the future of STEM in Ireland is clearly very bright. The standard was incredibly high, and I wish hearty congratulations to Caoimhín on the success achieved.”

Margie McCarthy, Head of Education & Public Engagement, Science Foundation Ireland said: “SciFest is a great event for promoting STEM among students in an inclusive and rigorous way. It is inspiring to see all the work put into each project and I wish to congratulate all the students as well as their families and friends. Ireland is a global leader in many aspects of STEM and if we wish to build on this success in the future, we must encourage a love of the field among our young people. It is great to see so many innovative projects on display this year, it gives us great hope for the future of STEM in Ireland and we would like to congratulate Caoimhín on his success today”

Other award winners at the final of SciFest 2020 were:

  • Conor Casey won the SciFest SFI Runner-Up Award for his project ‘AMSIMP: Using Machine Learning to Improve Numerical Weather Prediction’
  • Eoghan Ó Fearáin won the Broadcom MASTERS International Award for his project 'Beef or Leaf'
  • Finn Nankivell and Cian Glynn won Berlin Long Night of Science Award for their project titled ‘Lost’
  • Dara Newsome, Conor Bradshaw and David Hughes won the Boston Scientific Medical Devices Grand Award for their project ‘Specs - An Adapted Spectacle System for Dementia Patients’
  • Ellen Woodward won the Boston Scientific Medical Devices Runner-up Award for her project titled ‘‘Inside Out’ – A Wearable Device that Externalises Internal Emotion’
  • Molly Cunnane and Katie Hannelly won the Specsavers Making A Difference Grand Award for their project titled ‘Our Farmers – ‘Deaf as Doornails?’ An Investigation into the Effect of Machine Noise on our Farmers’ Hearing’
  • Sean Moloney and Michael ware won the Specsavers Making A Difference Runner-up Grand Award for their project titled 'Transitioning from Primary to Secondary School for Students with Autism and Development of an Information Book Addressing these Challenges to Help Ease their Transition’
  • Dara Newsome, Conor Bradshaw and David Hughes also claimed the Intel Technology Award for their project ‘Specs - An Adapted Spectacle System for Dementia Patients’
  • Aoibheann Mangan won SciFest Scientist of the Future Award for her project ‘Hospital Holly and Henry - A Mobile Trinal Interactive Solution to Eradicate Children's Fears of Medical Procedures’
  • Erinn Leavy and Sophie McCardle claimed the ISTA Award for their analysis of ‘Physiological and Running Metrics in 3K Cross Country Running in Comparison to Track and Treadmill’
  • Alice Davoren and Emily Cullinan won this year’s THEA Award for their research into ‘The Effect of Greywater on Soil Nutrients and Earthworm Population’
  • Giulia Baratta won the SciFest Life Sciences Award for her project on ‘Toxicological Investigation of Pesticides Using Paramecium as a Model Organism’
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