Ennis students are BD STEM stars

Ennis students are BD STEM stars


Coláiste Muire transition year students Isolde Hegarty, Molly Hennessy, Hannah Clune, Sinéad Ní Dhúlaing and Éabha Warner with their project – Photo: Liam Burke/Press 22

Pupils from five schools, including one in Clare, have demonstrated their futures are bright when it comes to identifying and solving health issues in Ireland as they receive an award at the second BD STEM Stars 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 Coláiste Muire in Ennis, Co. Clare. Scoil Pol, Kilfinane & Gaelcholáiste Uí Chonbá, Newcastle West received special commendation and €1,000 each for their projects.

Pupils from each of the schools beat off competition from across Limerick and Clare in showing step-by-step how they firstly 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, 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.

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 as well as 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 effective use of a lamp to combat this. Gaelcholáiste Uí Chonbá’s entry showcased the development of an electronically adapted fork to simulate 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 exactly 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 huge degree of curiosity, teamwork, innovation and resourcefulness in the entries. BD is delighted to be in a position 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.

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 Stars 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 Stars winners from this year and previous years, visit https://emea.jobs.bd.com/bd-stem stars.