Students get awards for inventive STEM projects

10 Feb 2012

Students from St Gerard's School in Bray, Co Wicklow, after receiving their award from Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn (back, far right)

Students from more than 20 Irish schools have been awarded medals for their projects in the areas of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) at the CREST Awards. The gold awards went to four different projects devised by one team and three individuals who hail from St Gerald’s College in Co Mayo.

At the Helix yesterday, EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn honoured the students, who hail from 20 schools across the country and range in age from 11 to 19. In all, 28 projects received awards.

Now in their second year, the Irish CREST Awards are organised by The Galway Education Centre in association with The British Science Association. Their aim is to reward students who demonstrate creativity and the ability to tackle issues in the STEM subjects. The CREST committee said this year’s standard of submissions was so high that independent adjudicators decided to award four gold CREST awards.

Students’ projects ranged from water-saving devices and food safety gadgets through to smartphone apps.

Here’s a sampling of some of the recipients. Students from Citywise Education in Jobstown, Tallaght, Co Dublin, won a bronze award for their project ‘The Dangers of Chicken’. Students from Castletroy College in Co Limerick also won a bronze award for their project, ‘The Fridge of the Future’. Students from Coláiste na Coiribe in Galway won a silver award for their project, named ‘Legolicious’.

And the gold award-winning projects, all hailing from a single team who study St Gerald’s College in Castlebar, Co Mayo, centred on four projects: ‘To Design and Build a Water Saving Shower’; ‘Weather Dependant Underground Drip-Feed Irrigation System’; ‘An Investigation into Smart Drip Irrigation Systems’; and ‘iCollapse, a mobile phone application for assisting those liable to collapse’.

The iCollapse project already gleaned awards at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition in January of this year.

Students from Coláiste Croí Mhuire in Spiddal, Co Galway pictured after winning a silver award for their project entitled 'Investigation of the Food Journey of the Brown Crab'

Students from Coláiste Croí Mhuire in Spiddal, Co Galway, after winning a silver award for their project entitled ‘Investigation of the Food Journey of the Brown Crab’

Relying on students to invent solutions for societal challenges

Yesterday, Geoghegan-Quinn spoke about how now, more than ever, Europe needs “excellent young scientists” with solid educational backgrounds coupled with the intellectual curiosity to spur them to become “world-class researchers and innovators”.

“We will be relying on these young people to discover and invent the solutions to society’s enormous challenges that we so urgently need,” said Geoghegan-Quinn.

Katherine Mathieson, education officer, The British Science Association, spoke about the “impressive” quality of the entries from
from primary and secondary schools across Ireland.

“These students join the 30,000 UK students who gain a CREST award every year on average, setting them on the road to be the scientists, technologists and engineers of the future,” she said.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic