St. Nathy’s College, Ballaghaderreen, held their first SciFest@school, Science Fair, on Friday 28th February 2014. All First Year students (116) entered. A total of 48 interesting and innovative projects (7 individual and 41 group) were submitted, dividing evenly into two categories:
1. Physical Sciences/Technology
2. Life Sciences
On the day of the Fair, there was a great buzz around the school. The First Year students entered the P.E. hall before 9a.m., full of excitement and enthusiasm. They eagerly got to work, proudly displaying their projects on their allocated tables and wall space.
Next came the judging! Six experts, from the fields of industry and education were roped in to help with this difficult task. Each judge was initially assigned eight projects. All six judges were impressed with the standard of the projects and even more so by the enthusiasm with which the students answered their questions and described their findings.
The judges then met and discussed and debated the merits of the various projects. Selected projects had up to three more visits from the judges before final decisions could be made and winners agreed.
Following the initial round of judging, Second Year students came to visit the exhibits before lunch and students from the local Primary school (5th and 6th classes, St. Attracta’s N.S.) came after lunch.
A representative from Sligo I.T.’s Life Sciences Dept. (Dr. Eadaoin Tyrrell) set up a really interesting stand, with lots for the students to see and do. A student favourite was a device to measure their “Grasp” strength!
In addition to the Sligo I.T. stand there was an Information Desk with a wealth of literature and information on everything from common diseases to healthy eating and science courses to sustainable energy. There was also a Competitions Desk with puzzles and crosswords. Small prizes (pens, pencils, rulers etc) were given to any student who made a good attempt at one of the competitions. The entries were then raffled for larger prizes.
Parents were invited to attend for the Awards ceremony, which was at 3p.m. For the first time in the day, the students fell silent. A total of 53 awards were presented, from the top award of First Year Scientist of the Year, St. Nathy’s College, 2014, to 24 Medals of Merit. All students received a Certificate of Participation. The prizes were presented by Bishop Brendan Kelly, Patron of St Nathy’s College, which added to the importance of the day.
The top five projects will now go forward to SciFest at Sligo I.T. to be held in May 2014.
The day was a great success. It was wonderful to see so many students speaking so enthusiastically about their science projects. The students really enjoyed the experience and hopefully this interest in science will remain with them and continue to grow as they progress through St. Nathy’s College!
The Science Fair would not have been possible without the support of a large number of People and Organisations. In particular I would like to thank the local business community: Towey’s Newsagents, McHugh’s Wholesale, Butler’s Steel, FDK Engineering, Aurivo, First class Office and Dooney’s Men’s Wear for providing funding, prizes and refreshments.
I would also like to thank the Judges, who gave generously of their time and the TY students who were a fantastic help on the day. Last, but not least, I would like to thank Sheila Porter, National Co-ordinator of SciFest, and the Institute of Physics in Ireland who provided prizes and valuable advice for the day.