St Anne’s students excel at Scifest LIT

St. Anne�"s Secondary School students Noelle Looby (Lattin) and Aoife Ryan (Lattin), who came first in the category Junior Life Sciences at the recent Scifest  LIT, a national festival of science.
Students of St. Anne’s Secondary School, Tipperary, recently took part in the 2013 Scifest LIT officially opened by Kieran O’Donnell, T.D.

Students of St. Anne’s Secondary School, Tipperary, recently took part in the 2013 Scifest LIT officially opened by Kieran O’Donnell, T.D.

More than 200 second-level pupils from all over Limerick and the Mid-West took part in the biggest Scifest event in the country this year.

Four teams from St. Anne’s took part with students Aoife Ryan and Noelle Looby coming first in their category, Junior Life Sciences. Scifest was created to provide an additional forum for students to present and display the results of their scientific investigations, following the success of the BT Young Scientist and Technology exhibition that has been running very successfully for over forty years

“Our project was agricultural based to investigate the incidences of digestive upsets in spring born calves and possible causes and solutions,” explained Aoife. Both Aoife and Noelle are from farming backgrounds and their knowledge and enthusiasm served them well. “The highlight of the entire process, apart from winning, was the moment we realised that our research worked,” said Noelle.

Runners-up in the same category were fellow students Claire Coleman and Kate O’Meara, with their project titled, ‘Beat the Beep’. This project was an investigation into factors that affect teenager’s performance in a fitness test called, ‘The Beep Test’. Both students are very sporty and communicated their interest and passion well, impressing the judges. “Taking part in the whole process was definitely our best experience so far,” said Claire.

Tracey Hanly and Silvia O’Dwyer were another successful team from St. Anne’s. Their project, ‘A quantative analysis of the concentration of potassium ions in water samples’ earned them third place in the Junior Physical Science Category. High potassium levels can contribute to cardiac arrhythmia in certain sectors of the population so it was reassuring to note that of the hundreds of water samples analyse, the levels of potassium in all water samples was within permitted EU guidelines. “Whilst we were investigating our Science project we visited the bio-chemistry laboratory in Limerick Hospital and we got to experience the feeling of working in a laboratory,” said Silvia.

Her teammate Tracey also found working in the lab a highlight of their research. “We met Dr Blake who was very helpful and also got to use a flame-photometer that measures potassium sodium amounts in water,” explained Tracey.

Louise English and Caoimhe Halpin’s project, ‘Musical Minds’ was a study into how music affects our mood and heart rate.

The girls tested the effect of different categories of music by monitoring students’ heart rate while listening to various types of music.

“The Scifest was a great opportunity to meet other schools and see what they had developed,” said Caoimhe. “For us, the highlight of our project was discovering that music does effect your mood.”

Scifest is a fantastic event that encourages student of all abilities to participate in a science fair and experience what it is like to be a research scientist. It inspires teenagers to develop an interest in science through inquiry and activities that link to their everyday lives. Students are given the chance to develop essential skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, presentation and collaboration.  In addition they get a chance to visit LIT and view the excellent facilities and courses that the campus has to offer.

Principal Colette Treacy was very proud that her students did so well and also that they enjoyed the experience. “I feel that the students had opportunities through their Scifest projects that would not have happened otherwise. Taking part for the girls was a unique and exceptional experience.”

Scifest is jointly funded by Intel and Discover Science and Engineering and is supported by a number of other partners. The project thus creates a valuable link between the second and third level education sectors and between education and industry.