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SciFest National Final 22 November 2019

  • 7 December 2019

Timothy McGrath wins SciFest 2019

The SciFest 2019 National Final took place in Marino Conference Centre on 22 November 2019. Timothy McGrath from Community College Killorglin, Co Kerry won the overall award. SciFest is a national STEM fair programme for schools.

WTIS was invited to attend and Anne-Marie Flaherty of the WITS executive joined the students and teachers at the event. She writes:

I had the enormous pleasure of representing WITS Ireland at the National Finals of SciFest 2019, which took place in Marino, on 22nd November last.

Firstly, massive congratulations to all of the finalists. The quality of work and the passion everyone had for their projects was immense and I did not envy the judges who had to select winners from such a wonderful group.

I was really struck by the range of STEM subjects displayed in the projects. I made a particular point of speaking to the female students and was delighted to see such a mix of disciplines from biology and environmental sciences to engineering, technology and materials sciences.

There was a very clear theme to many of the projects, that of climate change and environmental protection. It was very obvious that this is an area that the students feel very strongly about and knew a great deal in relation to the real impact it’s having not only globally, but locally. Students were very clearly thinking of practical and often simple ways of delaying, reversing and even solving some of the negative impacts of climate change. The recent school strikes and emergence of youth activists are not just a fad for these young people. I’d love to see how some of the projects are taken forward and even adapted on a bigger scale in the future.

These kinds of projects often don’t work as planned, or as quickly as planned, the results can be unpredictable and, speaking from experience, can be a source of frustration. They can generate huge amounts of data and the background research is time consuming. From speaking with the students, the importance and value of supportive and passionate teachers and mentors was highlighted. These projects were labours of love, spanning many months (in some cases years) and without the support and guidance of teachers I’m sure some of them might have had very different outcomes.

It was incredibly heartening to see the love these students had for STEM and their willingness to learn and engage with the subjects so readily. I hope this love continues and if this is just a snapshot of the talented students who have participated in SciFest I know the future is bright for Ireland.

Many thanks to the students who took the time to share their experiences and their projects with me and congratulations to the winners. Thanks also to the teachers and mentors. Your guidance and support is invaluable and cannot be underestimated.

Read the list of 2019 SciFest Award winners and watch a video of the event.