SciFest@DCU 2018 awards for Inspiring STEM Projects

Photo: Scifest@DCU 2018 Overall Winners Gráinne Lawlor and Enya Nordon from Scoil Mhuire Community School in Clane received their award from Prof. Brian MacCraith, President DCU, Dr. Eilish McLoughlin, Coordinator SciFest@DCU; Jackie O’Dowd, Science Foundation Ireland; Sheila Porter, SciFest CEO and George Porter, SciFest CFO. Dr. Odilla Finlayson, Lead Judge SciFest@DCU.


Of the 154 projects exhibited at SciFest@DCU 2018, the top prize on the day, the SFI Discover Best Project Award went to Gráinne Lawlor and Enya Nordon and their teacher Helena Lynn from Scoil Mhuire Community School in Clane for their project “An Investigation into the Deposition of Metallic Particles in E-Cigarette Vapour”.  The Abbott Runner-up Best Project Award went to Chloe Johnston, Tara Kelly and their teacher Niamh Mc Nally from Loreto Secondary School Balbriggan for their project on “Are the number of people canoeing in Irish rivers contributing to the spread of Aphanomyces astaci in the water?”

SciFest is an all-inclusive, all-island science initiative which fosters active, collaborative and inquiry-based learning among second-level students. SciFest is funded primarily by Science Foundation Ireland, Intel and Boston Scientific. As one of the 16 regional venues hosting a SciFest STEM fair, SciFest@DCU saw more than 350 students from schools all over the Leinster region exhibit 154 projects at DCU and put their knowledge of science to the test. SciFest is a competition that aims to encourage students to develop an interest in STEM, while prioritising inclusivity and inquiry-based learning. We are proud to support such a valuable programme.”  SciFest@DCU co-ordinator Eilish McLoughlin Associate Professor in School of Physical Sciences and Director of CASTeL said: “ This year we have seen a significant increase in the number of projects been presented @SciFest@DCU, with some of the schools participating for the first time. There was a high level of excitement and enthusiasm from the second level students to share their science and we are very grateful to our team of 48 judges for their careful review of each project and selection of our 15 winning projects.

Commenting on the SciFest@DCU regional STEM fair Sheila Porter, SciFest CEO said: “2017 was the tenth anniversary for SciFest and a hugely successful year with another big increase in the number of students taking part. In total 10,000 students exhibited their projects in local and regional STEM fairs across the country. We are sure that 2018 will be another successful year. SciFest gives students an excellent opportunity to develop their interest in STEM and inquiry-based approaches to learning, while developing t heir creative and problem-solving skills and learning to work in a team.” SciFest 2018 will be the fourth year of the prestigious Boston Scientific Medical Devices Award, which is presented at each of the 16 regional science fairs; the overall winner of this award will go on to compete for the Boston Scientific Medical Devices Grand Award at the national final in November.

The winners of SciFest@DCU 2018 go on to compete at the national SciFest final in November 2018. DCU winners, Gráinne Lawlor and Enya Nordon’s, said that the aim of their project was to “investigate the metals emitted from electronic cigarette vapour and where exactly within the e-cigarette these metals are coming from. We also wish to look at the molecular structure of the e-liquid in its pure state and after its been vaporised. Along with this we plan to see what the e-cigarette vapour is doing to lung cells.”

Seven other projects were selected as regional award winners at SciFest@DCU 2018 and all were presented with Dublin Crystal Trophies by representatives of each sponsoring organisation.

  • Abbott Runner-up Best Project Award: Chloe Johnston, Tara Kelly, Loreto Secondary School Balbriggan, Are the number of people canoeing in Irish rivers contributing to the spread of Aphanomyces astaci in the water? with teacher Niamh Mc Nally.
  • Boston Scientific Medical Devices Award: Oluwademilade Dayo-Alade, Mohd Danial Che Ali, Boris Nikolov, Meanscoil Iognáid Rís, EZ-CTRL: building and designing a computer mouse for people who are missing digits., with teacher Stephen Burns.
  • Intel Award for Best Physical Science/Technology Project: Ava Casey, Sutton Park School, A New Fire Proof Cladding System for Tall Buildings, with teacher Catherine Tattersall.
  • Esero Ireland Discover Space Award: Melissa Okosun, Amy Jordan, Jodie Wilson, Fingal Community School, Space Time & Relativity, with teacher Cathy Towey.
  • BioPharmaChem Ireland Chemistry Award: Hannah Killeen, Santa Sabina Dominican College, Aluminium – Let’s Reflect On That, with teacher Paul Nugent.
  • Newstalk Best Communicator Award: Ciara Monks, Abby Morgan, Samantha Makariate, St Joseph’s Secondary School, A quantitative survey into the role plastics play in littering our beaches, with teacher Helen Teehan.
  • Environmental Award: Ailís Odell, Loreto Secondary School Balbriggan, Microplastics in seawater and their effect on marine organisms, with teacher Niamh Mc Nally.


In addition, the DCU recognised seven other projects as category award winners and these were each presented with DCU hoodies kindly sponsored by SPAR at DCU.

  • DCU Junior Physical Sciences / Technology – A: Patricia Shevel – Bleikss, Alannah Kennedy, Ellie Doran, Manor House School, How do Frixion Pens Work?, with teacher Georgina Fagan
  • DCU Junior Physical Sciences / Technology – B: Aaron Cunningham, Jason Cunningham, Fingal Community School, Copper Nails vs Herbicides, with teacher Kate Urell
  • DCU Junior Life Sciences – A: Jennifer Bura, Mizna Shahid, Alana Foy-Nicolleau, Loreto Secondary School, Investigating the Effect of Silver Nanoparticles on Probiotics, with teacher Niamh Mc Nally
  • DCU Junior Life Sciences – B: Sam Gillan, Colaiste Chraobh Abhann, How accurate is the myres briggs test., with teacher Fiona McGuirk
  • DCU Intermediate/Senior Physical Sciences / Technology: Nicki Bond, Ceri Arnott, Rachel Price, Wesley College, An Investigation into What Factors Maximise the Percentage of Energy Transfer from Potential to Kinetic Energy, with teacher Laura Walsh
  • DCU Intermediate/Senior Life Sciences – A: Katie Fallon, Marie McCarthy, , Mount Sackville Secondary School, ‘Bacteria Brushes’, with teacher Brigid Corrigan
  • DCU ntermediate/Senior Life Sciences – B:
  • Ali O’Connor, Zoe Guinane, Rebecca Gill, Mercy Secondary School, An investigation into how digital devices alter our perception of time., with teacher Fiona Noone

About CASTeL 

DCU’s CASTeL Centre for Advancement of STEM Teaching and Learning at DCU is the largest centre for STEM education in Ireland and its objective is to enhance STEM education at all educational levels – supported by evidence-based research and contributing to international good practice. CASTeL researchers will provide pedagogic support to schools to adopt effective approaches to teaching, learning of energy and sustainability though the professional development of teachers. For more information, please go to the CASTeL website:

About SciFest

SciFest is an all-inclusive, all-island science initiative which fosters active, collaborative and inquiry-based learning among second-level students. It involves second-level students showcasing science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) projects at a series of one-day science fairs held locally in schools and regionally in the 14 Institutes of Technology, DCU and St. Mary’s College, Derry. SciFest is funded primarily by Science Foundation Ireland, Intel and Boston Scientific. The winners from each regional STEM fair go on to compete at a national final in November 2018. For more information please go to the SciFest website:

About Science Foundation Ireland 

Science Foundation Ireland funds oriented basic and applied research in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) which promotes and assists the development and competitiveness of industry, enterprise and employment in Ireland. The Foundation also promotes and supports the study of, education in and engagement with, STEM and promotes an awareness and understanding of the value of STEM to society and in particular to the growth of the economy. For more information visit