SciFest@TUS Athlone 2022

SciFest@TUS Athlone 2022

Two Hundred of the Most Talented Young Innovators Compete in Regional SciFest@TUS

April 13, 2022 - The first of the sixteen SciFest@College 2022 regional STEM fairs took place in the Technological University of the Shannon (TUS) in Athlone last week. Two-hundred students from twelve second-level schools across the midlands presented over ninety projects.

Projects included:

  • Rural vs Urban: How the Location Affects Pollution in Local Water
  • The Importance of Hedgerows
  • Developing Modified Buffer Strips to Increase Biodiversity and Water Quality in Grassland
  • Biodegradable Weed Barrier
  • An Investigation on How to Generate Electricity using Water Energy with Recyclable Materials

The top award, the ‘SciFest@TUS Best Project Award 2022’, went to Dara Shortall, Dean Burns and Eoin Murphy, Transition Year students at Moate Community School for their project ‘Developing Modified Buffer Strips to Increase Biodiversity and Water Quality in Grassland.’ Winning this award qualifies them to compete at the SciFest 2022 National Final which will take place in Dublin in November. The top award winner/s at the National Final will represent Ireland and SciFest at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) 2023 in Dallas, Texas.

Accepting the award on behalf of the trio, Dara Shortall acknowledged the support of his school and teacher, Mairead Cusack, and said he was “thrilled” with the result.

The TY student, who lives on a dairy farm, explained how their research could improve the quality of Irish waterways by tackling fertilizer run-off, which can decrease water oxygen levels and lead to dead zones.

Our project aims to solve this problem by planting a two-meter buffer strip along the edge of waterways on grassland with plants that will absorb nutrients more efficiently from fertilizer before they can reach the waterways. If these nutrients are let run-off into waterways, it can lead to eutrophication, which can lead to fish death,” he said.

Commenting on the calibre of this year’s entries, Dr Noreen Morris, co-ordinator of SciFest@TUS in Athlone, said, “As always, the projects entered by the students were impressive, engaging and thought-provoking. Students from across the region demonstrated their passion for STEM, which was clearly evident from the high standard of research that went into this year’s entries. SciFest is a competition that aims to encourage students to develop an interest in STEM, while prioritising inclusivity and inquiry-based learning, and it is a competition we are very proud to support”.

Sheila Porter, SciFest CEO and founder, added, “We received a tremendous number of entries again this year and the standard was as high as we’ve come to expect from SciFest participants. At SciFest, our goal is to encourage a love for STEM subjects from an early age so it is really heartening to receive so many high-quality entries.”

Last year’s SciFest@TUS (Athlone) overall winner Clare Reidy from Our Lady’s Bower went on to be named the national SciFest STEM Champion 2021 for her investigation into effective building materials for future exploration of Mars. Clare will represent Ireland at Regeneron ISEF in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, next month.

Margaret Mandal, Moate Community School, Co. Westmeath

To view a full list of SciFest@TUS 2022 Athlone award winners please click the following link.

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