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SciFest projects sought from students

Monday, 4th February, 2013 11:00am

Story by Tom Kelly
SciFest projects sought from students
SciFest projects sought from students

Minister of State with responsibility for Research and Innovation, Sean Sherlock, called on students from Meath to put their knowledge of science to the test and enter SciFest 2013.

Now in its sixth year as a national project, SciFest is an all-inclusive, all-island science competition where second-level students showcase science, technology and maths projects at a series of one day science fairs held in the 14 regional Institutes of Technologies and the University of Ulster, Derry. The winners from each science fair will go on to compete at the national final in October, which is sponsored by Discover Science & Engineering (DSE).

Students can log on to the newly launched SciFest website (www.scifest.ie) and download an entry form. Completed entry forms must be submitted by Friday 8th March.

The aim of SciFest is to create a science fair experience that is inclusive, accessible and inspires excellence - it gives students of all levels the opportunity to develop research skills and associated skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, presentation skills and teamwork. It shows students that learning science can be fun and provides teachers with an opportunity to promote science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects in an interesting, innovative and hands-on way. It also supports the objectives set out by the Government in 2012 to overhaul the Junior Cert programme. The new programme will introduce a school-based model of assessment and a greater emphasis on the acquisition of key skills.

Minister Sherlock said: "The Government's Action Plan for Jobs stresses the importance of STEM in providing the skills necessary to create high quality jobs for the economy. The Department of Jobs Enterprise & Innovation is pleased to be supporting this initiative through Discover Science & Engineering, managed by Science Foundation Ireland. The promotion of science is crucial if we are to be guaranteed a steady 'pipeline' of young people who choose to study STEM disciplines - this will be vital if we are to become a true knowledge economy. SciFest gives students the opportunity to put their knowledge of science to the test and present it in a fun and creative way, it promotes the learning of science and enables students to demonstrate their knowledge and passion for science on a public platform and facilitating recognition from their peers."

Speaking about the 2013 competition Sheila Porter, SciFest CEO said: "SciFest is a celebration of STEM subjects. It encourages students to push the boundaries of the classroom, use their knowledge of science, investigate and be creative in their projects. Having been involved in SciFest since 2006 the hard work, passion and dedication demonstrated by students, teachers and parents amazes me every year! It is a hugely exciting competition to be a part of and helps to promote a positive attitude towards STEM subjects. If students see their peers taking part in this competition they are more likely to participate themselves. We can see evidence of this with the number of students participating in SciFest increasing year on year."

Prof Mark Ferguson, Director General, Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) said:" SFI is pleased to support SciFest as it is vital that we engage and encourage our young people to increase their knowledge of science and engineering. It is these skills that are required to drive sustainable economic recovery in Ireland. SFI's new strategy - Agenda 2020 has as one of its key pillars 'to have an engaged and scientifically informed public.' Activities such as SciFest play a key role in encouraging young people to study STEM subjects.'"

In 2012, almost 3,400 students from 227 schools exhibited close to 1,500 projects at SciFest events at third level colleges across the country. An additional 900 students exhibited 400 projects at their own SciFest in-school events.

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