Offaly schools successful at AIT SciFest

SEVERAL Offaly secondary schools were amongst the prize winners at the SciFest competition held at Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) on Thursday last April 14.

SEVERAL Offaly secondary schools were amongst the prize winners at the SciFest competition held at Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) on Thursday last April 14.

The top prize, the Intel Best Project Award, went to two first year students, Eva Barry and Karen Garvey at Our Lady’s Bower, Athlone for a project that examined how mobile phones and texting could help people overcome their frustration when typing on a standard computer keyboard. Eva lives in Tullamore and is the daughter of Linda and Aidan Barry.

Katie Cogley from the Sacred Heart School, Tullamore won the Most Innovative Project Award for her project entitled ‘Comparison of the Accuracy of Minimally Invasive Surgery & Standard Hip Replacement Surgery’. She also claimed third place in the Life Sciences Award, junior individual category.

Her school mates Alannah Byrne, Nadia Worgan and Mary O’Rourke took second place in the Oriflame Cosmetics Award for ‘Hair Straighteners: Are they Worth It?’ while Faith Akinbode was in third place with a project ‘All About Hair’. Alannah, Nadia and Mary also came third in the Life Sciences Award, junior group category.

The winners of the Best Display Award and the Life Sciences Award, junior group category were Tullamore College students Cian Fogarty, Jack Dooley and Finian Carton for ‘Does Chewing Gum improve your Memory?’ Donal Scally, Darragh McNamara and Karl Dunne, also from Tullamore College, were highly commended in the Physical Sciences Award – intermediate group category for their work on ‘To Reduce Fossil Fuel Usage and Replace with Renewable Fuels (dry manure)’. ‘Regeneration Station’ a project by Laura Scally and Roma Lal from the same school won the Senior Category Award.

Jeremy Rigney from Banagher College won first place in the Life Sciences Award, junior individual category for ‘So you think you know your own mind? A study in conformity’.

SciFest organsier at AIT Dr Noreen Morris congratulated all of the students on their success. “We are delighted with the large number of students who have participated in SciFest at AIT. The competition is getting bigger and better every year and that is a credit to the dedication of science teachers at second level and also to the enthusiasm of the students themselves,” she said.

The SciFest competition at AIT is the largest in the country. This year over 400 students from throughout the Midlands exhibited 176 projects at the event.

Sheila Porter, SciFest National Co-ordinator, said, “SciFest is a fun and exciting way to encourage an interest in science at school level, providing not only an occasion to celebrate achievement and a job well done but also an opportunity to encourage active and collaborative learning. The rapid increase in participation in the competition is a clear indication of the interest and enthusiasm among students and teachers in the investigative approach to teaching and learning science. I would like to thank all of our partners including Intel, Discover Science and Engineering, BT, Abbott Ireland, PharmaChemical Ireland and all the institutes of technology. Without their support, none of this would be possible,” she added.

Opening the SciFest competition on Thursday morning, AIT Secretary and Financial Controller John McKenna said, “Science, engineering and technology is a central part of what we do at AIT. We have invested millions in new facilities to ensure that our students and researchers learn and work in facilities that are on a par with the best in the world. We have developed a range of new science degrees that will be introduced over the coming years. These courses are in areas such as forensic and environmental toxicology, pharmaceutical science and biotechnology. A new degree in sport science and exercise physiology is due to start this September,” he noted.