Monaghan student wins SciFest 2014

SciFest 2014 overall winner, Christopher Carragher
Pictured: SciFest 2014 overall winner, Christopher Carragher

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7 November 2014 | 0

Christopher Carragher, a sixth year student from Our Lady’s Secondary School, Castleblaney, Co Monaghan has been named overall winner of SciFest 2014 for his technology project Memory Buddy.

SciFest is an all-island science initiative which fosters active, collaborative and inquiry-based learning among second level students. This year saw a record 6,000 students exhibiting their projects in local and regional science fairs across the country.

Carragher’s teacher, Kathryn Higgins, received the Intel Teacher of Excellence award and will accompany Carragher to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he will be representing Ireland.

The winning project was the result of concern about the signs of short-term memory loss being exhibited by a family member. Carragher set about designing an automated system to aid people with memory loss.

Using Google Calendar, the Memory Buddy can alert the person about appointments and medication via flashing lights, sound and also via the TV. It includes a remotely controlled medicine drawer that presents the appropriate medicine at a particular time and there is a feedback facility that notifies a carer when medicine has or has not been taken. The system also includes an organiser that can be used to establish care rotas and appointments.

Another significant award presented was the Long Night of Science in Berlin Award, which went to Dundalk sisters Rachael and Shannon Ni Dhonnachadha for their project which looked at the science of punching. A punch involves a rotation of the wrist resulting in a horizontal fist on impact – this was introduced at the end of the 19th century but with no documented reason for this change. Rachael and Shannon set out to investigate if rotating the write before impact improved the efficiency of the punch. They measured various aspects of a punch including force, acceleration and velocity and their results found that contrary to the current accepted practice, punching with a rotation of the wrist provides no advantage in punch force and overall not rotating the write is advantageous.

Other awards presented included the Irish Science Teachers Association STEM award, which went to St. Brendan’s College Killarney brothers for their investigation into the feasibility of micro-hydroelectricity generation; and the Boston Scientific Medical Devices Award, which went to Pobalscoil na Trionoide, Youghal students for their new and revolutionary farm management software Agriscan.

SciFest is funded primarily by the SFI Discover Programme, Intel Ireland and Boston Scientific.

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