SciFest National Winner 2021

Athlone students’ innovative research into radiation protection wins SciFest 2021. Clare Reidy will represent Ireland at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair 2022 in the United States A sixth-year student from Our Lady’s Bower School in Athlone, Co Westmeath was named SciFest STEM Champion 2021 having claimed the top prize at this year’s SciFest National Final which took place on 26 and 27 November. Clare received the award for her innovative research project which explored Cosmic Radiation Protection, investigating effective building materials for future exploration of Mars. Clare’s victory will see her represent Ireland at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Atlanta, Georgia next May.

Cosmic radiation consists of high-energy particles travelling through space. Clare’s project investigated whether bricks made from Martian soil (regolith) could be used to block cosmic radiation. She discovered that these bricks could offer effective protection against cosmic radiation and constructed an optimum brick using Martian regolith simulant as a primary component. Her discovery supports the use of Martian regolith bricks to protect future inhabitants of Mars.

Norma Foley TD, Minister for Education said: “SciFest continues to bring together some of the best and brightest minds of future generations and I am delighted to see so many young people who are passionate about STEM fields. These subjects are crucial for equipping the young people of today with the problem-solving and critical thinking–skills needed to meet the challenges of tomorrow. The level of innovation gives great cause for optimism now and into the future. I’d like to congratulate Clare for winning this award and applaud all those students who have participated in this year’s competition. I’d also like to commend the parents, teachers and mentors who have helped students throughout the process.”

Sheila Porter, SciFest CEO, said: “We’d like to extend a huge congratulations to Clare for winning this year’s SciFest National Final. We received a tremendous number of entries this year and the standard was as high as we’ve come to expect from SciFest participants. At SciFest, our goal is to encourage a love for STEM subjects from an early age so it is really heartening to receive so many high-quality entries. The challenges posed by climate change and COVID-19 show the fundamental importance of science and that’s why it is vital that we continue to foster inquiry-based learning amongst students. In that vein, I’d like to offer a sincere thanks and congratulations to all SciFest participants, their teachers and parents for all their hard work and continued enthusiasm for STEM.”

SciFest is the largest, most inclusive STEM fair programme for second-level students in Ireland. The competition is free to enter and open to everyone across the island of Ireland, no matter their geographical location, background or circumstances. Now in its 16th year, SciFest is dedicated to encouraging and developing students’ interest in STEM in a fun and engaging way.

This year the SciFest National Final took place on a bespoke virtual platform that was custom designed for the awards and allowed students, teachers, and parents from around the country to view and participate in this year’s event. As well as the awards ceremony the platform also hosted a series of presentations from national and international speakers.

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