SciFest 2016 now open for student entries

21 Jan 2016

Students Kyle Cacho (left) and Sefora Baes (right) with Minister for Education and Skills Jan O’Sullivan at the launch of SciFest 2016. Image via Naoise Culhane

Late April brings the first event of SciFest 2016, with 14 institutes of technology, DCU and St Mary’s in Derry hosting 16 one-day fairs held over the course of a month.

Open to secondary school students all over the island, SciFest 2016 is currently accepting applications for projects around science, technology, engineering and maths.

The national winner of this ninth edition of SciFest will represent Ireland at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

Future Human

Backed by SFI, Intel and Boston Scientific, SciFest is a project to help promote STEM subjects to students, perhaps leading to better take-up of college degrees in these labour-lacking areas.

Prof Mark Ferguson, SFI’s director general and the Government’s chief scientific adviser, claims investing in the project is win-win, with “better understanding” of STEM and subsequent careers a huge boon to the Irish economy.

“SFI is happy to support initiatives like SciFest as science fairs can be one of the best learning experiences a student can get.

“Not only do they promote inquiry-based learning, they also help to develop a good base level of science literacy in all who participate.”

Boston Scientific will once again run a medical devices award, which will be presented at all 16 fairs before a main winner is chosen at the national final in November.

Last year, 7,200 students exhibited projects, with hopes high of a better turnout in 2016. The national final winner in SciFest 2015 was 5th year student Louis Madden, from Largy College in Monaghan, for his project that looked at whether genetic testing and DNA research can be carried out simply, cheaply and efficiently.

Students wishing to follow in Louis’ footsteps can log on to the SciFest website and enter online or download a paper entry form. Completed entries must be submitted by Friday, 11 March.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic