Over 30 Transition Year students participated in the annual SciFest@School competition at Presentation Secondary School, Castleisland recently.
The event was organised and facilitated by teacher, Tracey Dooley and judged by colleagues, Deirdre O’Brien and Rebecca Nagle.
Ms. Dooley commented afterwards that she couldn’t praise the students enough for their efforts and Ms. O’Brien and Ms. Nagle were equally impressed with what was presented to them.
There were five awards up to grabs: Best Project; Runner-up Best Project; AbbVie Young Innovator Award; The Bristol-Myers Squibb Passion for STEM Award and The Society of Irish Foresters (SOIF) Award.
It was very difficult for our judges to pick just five winners as the standard of projects this year was remarkable.
‘Colour Memory’ by Mya Griffin, Anna McSweeney and Aoibhe Hickey took home the award for Best Project.
This project developed on the idea that students retain more information if the information is written in colour pen rather than a black or blue pen.
They investigated this project using first and second year students, they asked them to memorise two poems one in pink and one in black and then to write down as much as they remember.
Over 70% of students retained more of the pink poem which proved their hypothesis.
This project is going to be presented to third and sixth year students in hopes that it will help them to retain more information for the Leaving Certificate and Junior Certificate.
The Effects of COVID-19
Best Project runners up went to ‘How COVID-19 has affected people with additional needs’ by Áine Murphy, Blathnaid Casey and Lauren O’Connor.
These girls took a sensitive topic and brought to light the struggles that students with additional needs went through during the pandemic.
This project was done through surveying multiple age groups to get a broad picture of people’s struggles. One key finding was that having a routine was essential for functional everyday living and that they felt feelings of confusion, tiredness and worry daily.
The girls concluded that COVID 19 had a negative impact on people with additional needs and that more focus is needed on this topic.
They want to educate the school community on ways to help and support students with additional needs.
The AbbVie Young Innovator Award was won by ‘Moody Foody’ by Ciara Cahill, Emma Keane and Orlaith O’Connor.
These students took this project into their own hands as they were the subjects of their own investigation.
Each student took on a specific diet and looked at the effects this diet had on many aspects of their life such as sleep, mood, exercise, and heart rate. The three diets shown were unhealthy Keto and a balanced diet.
On conclusion of this project, it was seen that a regular balanced diet was the best form of consuming food as it showed a that it contributes to having a regular sleep pattern, a good daily exercise routine, feelings of contentment and confidence, along with having a resting heart rate between 50 – 60 bpm.
Findings on Canteen Menu
The girls are now going to put their project into practice and work alongside the school’s canteen staff to try and make our school lunch menu more balanced to have a more positive lifestyle.
‘How Social Media affects your Mental Health as a Teenager’ by Jennifer Culloty, Aoife Fleming, and Katelynn Laide took away the Bristol-Myers Squibb Passion for STEM Award.
These girls researched a well-known topic and presented the judges with finding that they couldn’t ignore.
Though surveying a select number of students in each year, the girls were able to compare the effects of social media on different age groups. It was seen that the junior students are influenced a lot more by what they see online whereas the senior side of school have matured and aren’t as likely to fall into the trap of social media.
Online Time is Staggering
The number of hours that teenagers spend online is staggering and this topic has highlighted both the negatives for example scrolling, trolling, cyber bullying, and the positives such as social interaction, and keeping up to date with the latest news and tends.
The girls are looking to take this project a step further by presenting their findings to each class group in the school and hoping to bring awareness of both the positive and negative effects of social media on teenagers today.
Cider V Spirits
The Society of Irish Foresters (SOIF) Award was won by Nora Anne Hartnett and Elaine Cronin for their project on ‘The Effects of Different Alcohols on Plants.’
The girls wanted to find out if any other liquid besides water would increase the growth of a plant. They chose to work with alcohols as Nora Anne’s family owns a bar, so they had continuous supervision throughout the project.
They chose to base their project on a cider versus spirits experiment to see which one would act the most like water.
It turned out that cider will kill plants after 11 days whereas a spirit will keeps plants alive for about 25 days. This project was an interesting way of using resources that are available to you and see where the project takes you.
Teacher’s Praise for Students
“As their science teacher, I cannot praise these girls enough. They took an idea, actively and responsibly developed the idea to make it something enjoyable to listen to,” said Ms. Dooley.
“They stayed connected with each other and with me throughout the development of their projects. “During the presentations, the judges saw the care and respect that the students have for each other, if one student struggled another was there to pick them back up.
“After listening to all the presentations, our students have made us aware of their interests, scientific knowledge, and ability to present remarkable informative projects.
“I am so grateful to have the opportunity to teach these inspiring young women and all at Presentation Secondary School, cannot wait for next year’s competition,” Ms. Dooley concluded.
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