“Investigating the variance in uniformity of background radiation fields” wins Best Project Awards at SciFest@DCU 2024

Zuzanna Komon, a TY student from St Joseph’s Secondary School was the overall winner at SciFest@DCU for her project investigating the variance in uniformity of background radiation fields. Congrats to her teacher Danny Murray. The Runner up Best Project Award went to second year students Robyn O’Hanlon, Emilia Aherne and Elodie Wallace from St Conleths College, for their project investigating Mushrooms Vs. Normal building materials. Congrats to their teacher Ronan Carvill. 250 students from 20 second level schools from Dublin and neighbouring counties participated in SciFest@DCU on 8th May 2024.

SciFest@DCU co-ordinator Dr. Eilish McLoughlin, Head of DCU School of Physical Sciences said:

SciFest provides a unique opportunity for second level students to present their STEM projects to STEM professionals from universities and industries. Congratulations to all 250 students from 20 schools that presented their innovative and inspiring projects at SciFest@DCU 2024, and we look forward to the many contributions these young people will make to transforming lives and societies for years to come.”

SciFest, founded in 2006 is a true celebration of science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) education. Spanning all of Ireland it has grown in the 18 years to become Ireland’s largest second-level STEM fair programme. SciFest fairs provide a platform for students to showcase their projects, exchange ideas, and connect with fellow enthusiasts and experts alike. Participation is an exciting opportunity for them to explore, innovate, and share their passion for STEM subjects.

SciFest operates throughout the school year and, being locally and regionally based and free-to-enter, is highly inclusive and accessible. Winners from each regional STEM fair go on to compete at a national final in November. Winners from the national final compete at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in America and attend the Long Night of Science in Berlin. The SciFest programme is funded primarily by Intel Ireland, Boston Scientific and EirGrid.

Commenting on the SciFest@DCU regional STEM fair Sheila Porter, SciFest Founder and CEO said:

SciFest is more than just an event: it is a platform where students not only showcase their STEM projects but also embark on a journey of self-discovery and empowerment. Through hands-on exploration, engaging discussions, and connections with mentors, role models and peers, SciFest inspires a generation of problem-solvers and innovators. With over 12,000 students participating annually and experiencing a remarkable growth rate of around 20%, SciFest is paving the way for a brighter, more innovative future for all.  

The increasing participation is thanks to the dedication of teachers, mentors, parents, coordinators in the third level colleges and our partners and sponsors, who continue to support us in inspiring the next generation of problem-solvers. We deeply appreciate their commitment.”

SciFest@DCU winner Zuzanna Komon explained about her project:

“Two Geiger counters when measuring background radiation may average about 0.08µS/h in Ireland but variances around this figure often tend to have their signals rise and fall together between 0.01µS/h and 0.15µS/h. My project investigates: 1- What is the level of variation amongst Geiger counts when measuring background radiation 2- If signals rise and fall together due to both counters being in the same field density, how wide is the field? 3- Would a detailed radiation map of the school reveal any information about the materials or rock formations under the building? The current findings of my research are that radiation density fields are present around us, not exceeding 10 metres in size and passing by us rapidly, within 3-6 seconds.”

Eleven other projects were selected by a panel of judges from DCU and SciFest partner organisations as regional award winners at SciFest@DCU 2024 and all were presented with Dublin Crystal Trophies.

  • Boston Scientific Medical Devices Award: Kamaya Gogna, St Joseph’s Secondary School, A Continued Study on Using Machine Learning to Identify Radiolucencies on Panoramic Dental Radiographs, Teacher: Mr Danny Murray.
  • EirGrid Cleaner Climate Award: Manus Ó Baoighill, St Patricks Cathedral G.S, BeeCause – Remote Management of Bee Health, Teacher: Amy Clancy.
  • Intel Technology Award: Smaran Panday, Greystones Commuity College, Can drone and AI based object recognition and tracking technology mitigate sheep loss in farming? Teacher: Zoe Devlin.
  • SciFest Physics Award: Nicole Gavin, Grace Kershaw, Ruby Kearns, Loreto Abbey Secondary School, How do robots detect their environment? Teacher: David Cullen
  • Business Excellence Institute Award: Riddhiba Rana, Aarushiba Rana, Rachel Costello, Manor House School, InnovAid – Optimising Aid Using Technology and Saving Lives, Teacher: Louise Sullivan.
  • Huawei Communication Award: Erin Hardie, Loreto College, ‘Bene Esse’, Teacher: Ciara Lynn
  • SciFest Maths in Sciences Award: Eli-John Kiernan, Clongowes Wood College, A statistical analysis of bowling styles in cricket, Yvonne Nolan.
  • Regeneron Life Sciences Award: Charlie Plant, Yubo Wang, Senan Corry, St Conleths College, Slime Lines: Using the slime mould Physarum polycephalum to optimise networks in public transport and natural ecosystems, Teacher: Ronan Carvill.
  • Dawn Meats Agricultural Science Award: Max Kinsella, Clongowes Wood College, How Does Light Pollution Affect Plant Growth? Teacher: Yvonne Nolan.
  • SciFest Chemistry Award: Esha Sibi Mathew, Loreto College Swords, Biofluorescence, Teacher: Niamh Kilcawley.
  • ISTA Award (Best project in Junior category): Feargal Browne, Justin Bi, Ashkan Samali, Castleknock College, Do electrolytes affect running preformance? Teacher: Tom Tierney.

An additional twelve projects were selected by a panel of judges from DCU and SciFest partner organisations to received DCU Merit Awards.

  • Christopher Carroll, St Kevins College, Global warming: past and present, Teacher: Ash Hussain.
  • Patrick Sheridan, Naoise Ó Dáilaigh, Clongowes Wood College, Investigating the Effects of Vaping on the Human Body, Teacher: Yvonne Nolan.
  • Aneesh Garg, St Conleths College, An investigation into the use of hot water treatment and natural preservative solution on various fruits in an attempt to increase there shelf life, Teacher: Ronan Carvill.
  • Aran O’Donnell, Clongowes Wood College, What are microplastics and why are they a problem, Teacher: Yvonne Nolan.
  • Zack O’Leary, Clongowes Wood College, Fermented foods and the gut brain access, Teacher: Yvonne Nolan.
  • Aaron Leung, Antoni Lesinski, Fingal Community College, Whipping Wonders, Teacher: Alison Behan.
  • David Tanasa, Fingal Community College, Bubble race, Teacher: Alison Behan.
  • Thomas Pegum, Jakub David Demarcus Robert, Gonzaga College, Cornstarch based bioplastic, Teacher: Diego Cavallaro.
  • Elliot Wright, Harrison Lynch Reynolds, Daniel Zharkoy Murray, Greystones Commuity College, Exploring how different materials absorb impact, Teacher: Chloe Duffy.
  • Sophie Monks, St Joseph’s Secondary School, ‘Fine Tuning Talents: Linking Sheet Music and Motor Dexterity’, Teacher: Chris O’Connell.
  • Davin Gaffney, Clongowes Wood College, Does Cost, Brand or Packaging Claim Correlate with Battery Life in a Toy Testing Model? Teacher: Yvonne Nolan.
  • Rosie Maguire, Eureka Secondary School, A solution to the problem of cognitive decline in teenagers and adults! Teacher: Chloe Sheridan

Sheila Porter, Scifest CEO and Eilish McLoughlin Chair of SciFest@DCU with 2024 Best Project Runner Up to Robyn O’Hanlon, Emilia Aherne and Elodie Wallace from St Conleths College.