SciFest offers an engaging way of learning science

8 Apr 2011

Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) is set to host SciFest 2011, which will showcase 100 projects by 250 secondary school students.

Kathleen Lynch, TD, Minister of State for Disability, Equality and Mental Health, is launching the event this morning at 9.30.

SciFest is a series of one-day science fairs funded by project partners Intel Ireland and Discover Science and Engineering and hosted nationwide by the institutes of technology.

SciFest includes a competition and exhibition of projects, a selection of science talks, science demonstrations in the college laboratories and a prize-giving ceremony.

In each venue, students compete for a number of awards, including Intel Best Project Award, Abbott Runner-up Best Project Award, BT Best Communicator Award, and the Discover Sensors Award.

Since SciFest was established in 2008, student participation has grown, with a 23pc rise in 2009 and 34pc in 2010.

This year’s event has a record number of entries, demonstrating an increase of the interest in science, and the growing enthusiasm among students and teachers in the investigative approach to teaching and learning science.

The fair’s overall objective is to encourage students to engage in science through collaborative, inquiry-based learning and to offer a forum for students at local/regional levels to present and display their scientific investigations.

The learning experience the fair provides enables students to think about science in an innovative and enjoyable way, moving away from just memorising facts. It also equips students with the necessary skills for solving real-world problems.

“SciFest encourages students of all abilities to participate in a science fair and experience what it’s like to be a professional research scientist. They are provided with an opportunity to develop 21st-century skills, such as critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, presentation and collaboration,” said Dr Hugh McGlynn, head of School of Science and Informatics at CIT.
CIT president Dr Brendan Murphy will present the Intel Best Project Award and the winner will be invited to exhibit at Intel in Dublin next autumn, from which one project will be selected to win an all-expenses-paid trip to represent Ireland at the International Science and Engineering Fair 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the US.