Programme History

Programme History

History of SciFest

SciFest was the brainchild of the current SciFest CEO, Sheila Porter. Arising from her involvement with the Intel Educator Academy in the United States, she approached the Institute of Technology Tallaght (ITT) in 2006 with an idea for a local science exhibition for second level students. A successful pilot SciFest science exhibition was hosted by ITT in 2006 and repeated in 2007. With funding from the Discover Science and Engineering programme and Intel Ireland Sheila Porter was seconded from her teaching post in Loreto College, St Stephen’s Green, to Intel in September 2007 to work on SciFest on a full-time basis.

The model proved highly scalable and cost effective. In 2008 SciFest ran in nine Institutes of Technology (ITs). In 2009 the number of ITs involved increased to 14 and an additional SciFest was hosted in Northern Ireland. With the numbers increasing so rapidly it was decided to expand the SciFest project in 2011 by introducing two new levels of participation, school-based (SciFest@School) and a national final.

In 2012 Sheila’s secondment ended, five years being the maximum allowed by the Department of Education and Skills, and she decided to resign her teaching post and continue to work with SciFest. With her husband, George, she set up a not-for-profit company, SciFest Ltd, to run the SciFest project.

In 2012 the project developed an international aspect with participation in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in the USA. This aspect of the project was further expanded in 2015 with participation in the International Environment and Sustainability Project Olympiad (INESPO) in the Netherlands. In 2018 INESPO was converted to an exclusively online competition.

In SciFest 2019 almost 3500 students, encouraged and supported by almost 400 teachers from 273 schools, entered over 1500 projects at SciFest@College STEM fairs. SciFest 2019 also saw a further increase in participation in the SciFest@School strand of the programme. Over 7500 students exhibited over 3000 projects at SciFest@School STEM fairs in 81 schools. Overall, between the two strands of the programme, SciFest 2019 involved over 10,000 students presenting some 4300 projects.

In 2013 SciFest was greatly honoured by the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, very graciously agreeing to become the sole Patron of the project.

Aim of SciFest

The aim of SciFest is to encourage a love of science, technology, engineering and maths through active, collaborative, inquiry-based learning and to provide a forum for second-level students at local/regional level to present and display their scientific investigations.

Participation in SciFest helps students to develop an interest in, and enthusiasm for, STEM. It allows them to learn while pursuing an aspect of the subject in which they have a particular interest. It also encourages the development of the skills sets that are required to address future global concerns of food, water and energy security, create wealth to sustain growth and to provide better health services and better infrastructure. Addressing such global concerns will create and drive the jobs and skills needs of the future.

Being locally and regionally based, open to all and free to enter, SciFest is uniquely diverse, inclusive and accessible. It makes it possible for every young person, whatever their background, circumstances or intellectual ability, to experience the excitement of participating in a STEM fair. This participation encourages independent learning, builds self-confidence and introduces students to the myriad of opportunities available to a person with a STEM qualification.

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09 2023
SciFest@School in Éiru Community College, Barnwell Road, Hansfield, Dublin 15
22 2023
SciFest@School in Colaiste Chraobh Abhann, Creowen, Kilcoole, Co. Kildare
23 2023
SciFest@School in Oaklands Community College, Edenderry, Co. Offaly
24 2023
SciFest@School in Marist College, Athlone, Co. Westmeath
Michael D. Higgins, Patron of SciFest
SciFest is a registered charity.

RCN 20081270

Michael D. Higgins
© 2023 SciFest