Killarney maths team takes top prize at SciFest 2022

25 Nov 2022

Image: © alesmunt/

Three Leaving Cert students from Killarney Community College will go on to present their award-winning STEM project at ISEF 2023.

An investigation of Pythagoras’ theorem has taken the top prize at this year’s SciFest competition.

The national final at the Marino Conference Centre in Dublin was attended by finalists from across Ireland.

Sixth-year students Liam Waldron, Rachel Griffin and Luke O’Sullivan from Killarney Community College, Co Kerry were named this year’s champions.

Their winning project approached the well-known geometry theorem learned by heart by many a maths student through the framework of group theory. This involves the study of algebraic structures known as groups, a concept central to abstract algebra. Its study has applications in physics, chemistry, materials science and cryptography.

The winning SciFest trio will now bring their project to the 2023 Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Dallas, Texas.

Earlier this year, Dublin teenager Andrei Florian bagged two awards at ISEF for his project on a novel internet voting system.

‘Incredible innovation’

SciFest is an all-island contest that invites second-level students to have fun while engaging with STEM.

“We are delighted to be back in person for this year’s SciFest National Final as it has allowed both the judges and fellow students to grasp the full scope of every presentation here today,” said founder and CEO Sheila Porter.

“This year, students have shown incredible innovation in how STEM can make a positive impact on society, with initiatives in farming, space exploration and healthcare.”

Maha Shahzadi took the runner-up prize for her project, Eataware.

“It is fantastic to see so many young people actively engaging with important issues like climate change and looking at practical, creative and innovative solutions which could contribute to our response,” said Norma Foley, TD, the Minister for Education.

“The projects on display here today will show how science, technology, engineering and maths can be applied to real-world problems, often in unexpected ways.”

Both Porter and Foley expressed their congratulations for this year’s champions and all the participants who made it to the final.

Teachers, mentors, parents and school staff were also praised for their support.

This year marked the 17th year of SciFest, which conducts local and regional fairs across the country ahead of the annual final. More than 90,000 students have taken part in the competition since it began in 2006.

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Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.