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The main aim of participation in SciFest is to engage students in creative problem solving without the restriction of hav- ing the ‘correct answer’. A project can be in any area of STEM. Students are encouraged to work collaboratively and come up with their own idea for a project. By doing this they learn how to take initiative and responsibility for their own learning, work in teams, become more confident and manage themselves more effectively.

Participating in SciFest creates an ideal opportunity to inspire students to use technology to create innovative solutions to real world problems. By applying their skills in computational techniques and writing new programs even very young students can design exciting new products. These are the inventors and innovators of the future who will play a vital role in the continued development of our economy and in addressing global challenges such as climate change.

SciFest encourages students to continue with their research and take their project to the next level. Examples of this include:

Adam Burke and Eoin Hayes, Coláiste Chiaráin Co. Limerick won the SFI Best Project Award at SciFest@LIT 2015 and the Berlin Long Night of Science Award (Runner-up Best Project Award) at the SciFest 2015 National Final last November. Their project, entitled 'The Handy Guide to Sign Language', has just been accepted to be exhibited at the Make Faire Rome in October. Well done and good luck to Adam and Eoin.

Well done also to Sarah Murphy, Niamh O’Malley and Mary Murphy, Jesus and Mary Secondary School, Gortnor Abbey, Crossmolina, Co. Mayo who won 1st Place in the Intermediate Category, Technology and also the Business Innovation Award at SciFest@ITSligo 2016. Their project was entitled 'Handheld Gun for Applying Marking Fluid to Sheep'. The girls went on to win a number of other awards including First in the Student's Category of the Invention Section at the recent Tullamore Show.

SciFest is also closely following Laura Hutchinson and Antoinette Atik, St Joseph’s College, Borriosleigh, Thurles, Co. Tip- perary. Laura and Antoinette were Special Award winners at SciFest@LITThurles 2016. Their project was entitled ‘Bags with Tags’. Success at SciFest encouraged the girls to go further with their project and enter it into the Eurocean Compe- tition 2016. In July Laura and Antoinette were delighted to hear their project had been selected along with two other projects to compete for the Mário Ruivo Prize 2016. Good luck to Laura and Antoinette.

"My SciFest journey was a truly life changing experience. On the road from exuber- ant early experimentation to accurate scientific analysis I developed skills in re- search, presentation, organisation, time management and scientific methods, and discovered a new found spirit of perseverance and determination. Primarily though, the whole experience was huge fun, and I made friends from Monaghan to Malaysia and everywhere in between.

"I can't thank SciFest enough for giving me this opportunity and I'd recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who enjoys thinking outside the box."

Lúc de Barra, Coláiste Ráithín, Bré, Co. Wicklow: SciFest@DIT 2015 SEAI Award winner SciFest National Final 2015 SEAI INESPO Award winner INESPO 2016 Silver medal Second Place Award


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