The SciFest national science fair programme is Ireland’s largest pre-college science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) competition.
The SciFest programme was set up to encourage a love of STEM through active, collaborative, inquiry-based learning and to give every young person, whatever their background or circumstances, the opportunity to achieve their potential in, and have an enjoyable experience of, STEM. In 2016 more than 8000 second-level students from almost 265 schools presented over 3500 projects. Since its launch nationwide in 2008 a total of some 40,000 students have participated.
The SciFest programme consists of a series of one-day science fairs which take place at local level in schools (SciFest@School), regional level (SciFest@College hosted by the 14 Institutes of Technology, Dublin City University and St Mary’s College, Derry) and national level (national final competition for winners from each of the regional events).
Being locally and regionally based, open to all and free to enter SciFest promotes diversity and is both highly inclusive and accessible.
The SciFest experience encourages the development of skills such as intellectual curiosity, critical thinking and problem solving, skills which are essential for a successful and fulfilling life as a citizen of a knowledge society. In collaboration with Science Foundation Ireland’s Smart Futures programme talks and advice on careers in STEM are available to all SciFest events. SciFest is affiliated to two international science fairs: The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) in the USA and the International Environment & Sustainability Project Olympiad. (INESPO) in the Netherlands. In the five years that SciFest has participated in Intel ISEF students representing SciFest have won a total of seven major awards. SciFest affiliated to INESPO in 2015 and in that year the students representing SciFest won a gold medal first place award. This year the SciFest representative achieved a silver medal second place award. SciFest partners with Science Foundation Ireland, Intel and Boston Scientific – along with a number of other corporate, academic, government and science-focused organisations – who provide support and sponsor awards. SciFest@School fairs run throughout the academic year at times which suit the individual schools. The SciFest@College fairs take place between March and June each year and the SciFest National Final takes place each November in the Marino Conference Centre in Dublin.