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 (now SFI) 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 programme.

In 2012 the programme developed an international aspect with participation in the Intel (now Regeneron) International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in the USA. This aspect of the programme 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. Since 2020 SciFest has been affiliated to the Hong Kong Global Youth Science and Technology Bowl (GYSTB) and each year students participate in the competition online. In 2012 a SciFest student attended the Long Night of Science in Berlin for the first time and the opportunity to attend this event each year in June/July is now an award at the SciFest National Final.

From one fair and 176 students in 2006 the programme has expanded to over 100 fairs and over 10,000 students participating annually. Since 2006 almost 100,000 students have participated in one or more levels of the programme.

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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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
SciFest is a registered charity.

RCN 20081270

Michael D. Higgins
© 2024 SciFest