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BD Stem Stars awards - from Scoil Pól, Kilfinane, Co. Limerick all transition year students Leah O'Brien, Chris Costigan, Aisling Daly and Pádraig Brazil Carroll pictured above. The students project is named “Investigating the influence of Lux variation for combating Seasonal Affective Disorder.” Picture: Liam Burke/Press 22. BD Stem Stars awards - from Scoil Pól, Kilfinane, Co. Limerick all transition year students Leah O'Brien, Chris Costigan, Aisling Daly and Pádraig Brazil Carroll pictured above. The students project is named “Investigating the influence of Lux variation for combating Seasonal Affective Disorder.” Picture: Liam Burke/Press 22.

Education

Limerick and Clare schools shine bright in BD STEM Star Awards

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BD Stem Stars awards – from Scoil Pól, Kilfinane, Co. Limerick all transition year students Leah O’Brien, Chris Costigan, Aisling Daly and Pádraig Brazil Carroll pictured above. The students project is named “Investigating the influence of Lux variation for combating Seasonal Affective Disorder.” Picture: Liam Burke/Press 22.

Limerick and Clare schools shine bright in BD STEM Star Awards

Pupils from five schools have demonstrated their futures are bright when it comes to identifying and solving health issues in Ireland today as they receive an award at the second BD STEM STAR awards competition. The top prize of €10,000 funding for STEM projects was awarded to Desmond College, Newcastle West, Limerick with €5,000 to Salesian Secondary College, Pallaskenry Limerick and €5,000 to Colaiste Muire in Ennis, Co. Clare. Scoil Pol, Kilfinane & Gaelcholáiste Uí Chonbá, Newcastle West, received a special commendation and €1,000 each for their projects.

Áine Ní Mhurchu, a transition year student at Colaiste Uí Chonba, Newcastlewest who designed these Electronic Taste Simulation devices. Picture: Liam Burke/Press 22.

Áine Ní Mhurchu, a transition year student at Colaiste Uí Chonba, Newcastlewest who designed these Electronic Taste Simulation devices. Picture: Liam Burke/Press 22.

Pupils from each of the schools beat off competition from across Limerick and Clare in showing step-by-step how they first identified an issue and then, through research, testing and learning, how they could solve it using what they learn in STEM subjects. 

The winners were announced at a virtual presentation today, hosted by BD Research Centre Ireland with the support of Limerick & Clare Education and Training Board. Professor Norelee Kennedy, Vice President of Research,t University of Limerick, presented the awards.

The winners and recipients of €10,000 were Desmond College, Newcastle West. Their project ‘Exercise is the Key’ was submitted by transition year students Aoife Lee & Emma Brennan. They looked at the issue of teenage obesity and the connection between lack of exercise and the rapid increase in the amount of screen time among Irish teenagers and developed a device that positively rewarded exercise with screen time using a modified power adaptor. 

Two runner up prizes of €5,000 each were awarded. At Salesian Secondary College, Pallaskenry, Niamh O’Connor looked at the topic of “Dealing with the daily challenges posed by living with cerebral palsy”. Niamh developed a prototype concept called EazyFlex, creating a glove with an inbuilt ball that would allow the wearer to exercise their hand muscles by inflating and deflating the ball through bluetooth and a mobile app. 

Emma Brennan and Aoife Lee both 5th year students at Desmond College, Newcastlewest with their project Exercise is Key. Picture: Liam Burke/Press 22.

Emma Brennan and Aoife Lee both 5th year students at Desmond College, Newcastlewest with their project Exercise is Key. Picture: Liam Burke/Press 22.

The second runner up prize of €5,000 went to Colaiste Muire, Ennis, for their entry which proposed an app to support teenagers in managing their mental health. The students identified the challenges of the pandemic as putting even greater pressure on mental health and looked at how they could provide teenagers with peer-to-peer support and information on where to go for further help.

Special Commendation prizes of €1,000 each were presented to teams at Gaelcholáiste Uí Chonbá, Newcastle West and Scoil Pol, Kilfinane for their projects. Scoil Pol, Kilfinane looked at Seasonal Affective Disorder and the effective use of a lamp to combat this. Gaelcholáiste Uí Chonbá’s entry showcased the development of an electronically adapted fork to stimulate the taste of salt, thus reducing the need for salt in diets to improve health.

Padraig Fitzgerald, BD RCI’s Site Director, chaired the judging panel. “All of the students were able to clearly show how the STEM subjects they study in school have given them skills to solve real-life health problems. This is precisely why Ireland has such a strong reputation in research and innovation, attracting companies like BD to set up R&D centres in the country. Despite the restrictions around the pandemic in the last year, we saw a massive degree of curiosity, teamwork, innovation and resourcefulness in the entries. BD is delighted to be able to recognise talent in the area and award prize money to be put towards STEM resources at Desmond College, Salesian Secondary School, Colaiste Muire, Scoil Pol and Gaelcholáiste Uí Chonbá in recognition of their projects.

Third year student Niamh O’Connor from the Salesian Secondary College, Pallaskenry whose project Cerebral Policy - T Create is an inflatable Ball to Exercise the Hand Muscles. Picture: Liam Burke/Press 22.

With Compliments. BD Stem Star third year student Niamh O’Connor from the Salesian Secondary College, Pallaskenry whose project Cerebral Policy – T Create an inflatable Ball to Exercise the Hand Muscles.
Photograph Liam Burke/Press 22.

Presenting the awards, Professor Norelee Kennedy, Vice President for Research at the University of Limerick, said, “I would like to congratulate BD on this innovative and impactful initiative. STEM skills are crucial to the future well-being and development of our island and this region, and it is vital that STEM education in the school system continues to develop to support these skills needs. This has been a long-standing topic of research and education at the University of Limerick, which hosts the National Centre for STEM Education. The BD STEM Star awards focus on health this year is very welcome given the pandemic and the importance of students developing skills and knowledge to support their own well-being.”

To find out more about the winning entries and the BD STEM Star award winners from this year and previous years, go HERE 

 

About BD STEM Stars

BD STEM Stars is an initiative from BD Research Centre Ireland which aims to promote participation in STEM subjects and demonstrate how they can be applied to solving real-life health issues. Now in its second year, the initiative is open to all secondary schools in Limerick & Clare. In the first year, the winning team from Thomond Community College explored the use of blue light therapy to alleviate stress at school. Runner up prizes were awarded to Gaelcholáiste Luimnigh and Desmond College.

For other stories on education go HERE

Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the ilovelimerick.com concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.

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