Timothy's SciFest Journey

Timothy's SciFest Journey

Timothy's SciFest Journey

Timothy McGrath, May 2024

My journey with SciFest started back in first year of secondary school in Killorglin Community College. I was unaware of the amazing journey simply participating in a science fair was going to bring to my life. One of my teachers introduced my friend and I to Scifest. We worked on a project which focused on helping a fellow student who was visually impaired to navigate around the unfamiliar school environment using NFC tags, the technology used in contactless payments. We had one of the best times working on the project and presenting at SciFest IT Tralee. It was our first time ever presenting something to a group of judges which was not an easy task at the time. We were thrilled to win the Boston Scientific Award and go onto present at the National Final that year which was very exciting. I had got the taste for SciFest and the Science fairs ‘bug’. From this moment on I began a love for STEAM and saw it as a new potential career path to follow my passion.

The next year I wanted to develop a new project and enter SciFest again. My project developed sensor wearable glasses for the blind to detect obstacles not connected to the ground. This time I had developed on my presentation skills for the competition, and I was more relaxed when judging came around. I was delighted to win the … award but I did not continue onto the National Final that year. Although, this recognition is really important for students at this young age to reward them for their hard work in the field of science and technology. This supports students to become curious and learn skills for life that they would otherwise not learn inside the classroom.

I decided to enter the project again the following year. This time I had developed the project further and had a more rounded and finished off prototype. Being more confident in my own work helped me to be selected for an award and go on to represent at the National Final in Dublin. At the National Final it was fantastic to meet other students and share our interest in STEAM. It made me want to work on my interests further and follow science as a career path.

In Transition year, our school organised each student in the year to enter a project into SciFest. It was a fantastic opportunity as I could dedicate more time to a science project than previously. This time I developed a project using a microorganism to combat cholera infected water to help the global south. It was a fantastic day and great activity for the year group to do together. Many of my friends had never worked on a science project before and gained a new love for the subjects. I was fortunate enough to receive the Abbott Runner Up Award that year and present my work at the National Final.

As fifth year came around, I decided I wanted to enter SciFest one last time. The science competition allowed me to enjoy the process of developing an idea from concept to implementation. I loved presenting work that I was proud of and meeting so many amazing people and friends through science over the years. SciFest was where I got to meet the same faces again and again, like an annual reunion. The project that I developed that year was a passion close to my heart, the ocean and climate change. I was thrilled to win the Overall award at my local SciFest @ IT Tralee (now MTU Kerry). I went on to present my project at the National Final that year, which was my fourth time at a SciFest National competition. I had spent each year of my secondary school extra-curricular time developing projects for the competition, but I had never won an award at the National Final during that time. If I had not persisted and continued each year, I wouldn’t have developed this project in fifth year which won the Overall SciFest SFI STEM Champion Award. I learned that it takes persistence and time to develop something special, especially in science and technology. Although, looking back over my time during SciFest my achievement is not measured on any of the awards, not even the overall award in 2019. I measure it on the person that the science fair competition shaped me to be. I amplified interpersonal skills that I had never had before. I became a leader, a communicator and a problem solver. I developed my passion for helping others and my love for innovation. I improved my academics and gained entry into the University course that I wanted to study.

Since leaving secondary school and SciFest I have been studying a BSc Software Entrepreneurship Computer Science degree in University College Cork. Following my passion for extracurricular activities and my passion for helping people I joined a society called Enactus. It’s a network of global business, academic and student leaders unified by a vision to create a better, more sustainable world through social entrepreneurship. During this time, I developed a social enterprise called Reframe, which reimagines plastic waste into recycled sustainable transport. Also, I have held the position of Chairperson and Project Advisor where I have supported 5 award winning social enterprises. I helped establish the UCC Sustainable Community Markets, which are held every month on campus. As a result of this, participating local sustainable businesses generated more than €2,459 in revenue between them in the first year. This new revenue stream was vital for those businesses after being impacted by the Pandemic. In the third year of my degree, I accepted an offer for placement in Johnson & Johnson Innovative Medicine. This connected back to my passion for science and showed me how technology could aid all industry aspects. Now in final year, I have continued my passion for helping people when developing my final year project. The project seeks to innovate political canvassing through a cloud-based server and mobile application system. By mapping visited locations and facilitating information sharing via a notice platform, the system empowers campaigners to better understand and respond to constituent concerns. It looks to positively benefit political engagement in Irish communities.

Overall, I can trace my work and life to date back to that first application into SciFest. I have become the person I am today because of the mission of the organisation: “To ensure every second-level student has an opportunity to develop critical STEM skillsets through participation in a STEM fair, irrespective of their ability, background or circumstance.” It is a time in my life that I will always look fondly on and appreciate to have had the opportunity to participate in.

31 2024
SciFest@School in Loreto College, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath
07 2024
SciFest@School in St Andrews College, Booterstown Ave, Blackrock, Co Dublin
08 2024
SciFest@School in Sandymount Park Educate Together Secondary School, Beech Road, Sandymount, Dublin 4
13 2024
SciFest@School in St Raphaela's Secondary School, Upper Kilmacud Road, Stillorgan, Co. Dublin
Michael D. Higgins, Patron of SciFest
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