Heywood SciFest reveals a growing interest in the science of mental health

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

Email:

lynda.kiernan@leinsterexpress.ie

Scientific interest is at a high in Heywood Community School in Laois, clear from the standard of projects at their 2018 SciFest exhibition held this week.

It is only the second year that the school has hosted a SciFest@school, the all inclusive exhibition where Transition Year students get to pick their own topics and carry out scientific studies. 

This year the Heywood students studied topics that affect them directly, such as how exams affect mental health, nervousness about public speaking and sporting technology.

First Place was awarded to Dervla McDonagh and Mark Deegan for 'An investigation into the effect our education system has on our mental health'.

Second Place went to Lucia Mezapelle, Sarah Kirk andClodagh McInerney for 'To investigate the influence of different factors affecting nervousness in public speaking'.
Third Place was awarded to Robin Palin, Aaron Grady and Eoin Simms for their project 'Does the weight of a hurley affect the distance of a strike?'
Fourth Place went to Sheila Brophy,Than Phelan and Alisha Powders who studied 'Does Practice make perfect?'

Best Communicator award went to Luke Dowdall for his project titled 'The Chromesthesia Effect'.
Best Display was awarded to Leah Moffitt and Mairead Sinnott for 'An investigation into make-up brush bacteria and the best ways to reduce it'.

Science teacher Aodhagan O'Suilleabháin leads the project with his colleagues in the science dept. 

"There really is a great energy around these Scifest@school days in Heywood. The TY students really take an interest in their projects and learn a lot from the experience. This experience will stand to them when they take on more challenging projects at third level and throughout their professional lives. Not only do they display their projects to the Judges, but they are more than happy to explain the Scientific thinking behind their investigations to the younger students in the school who will be embarking on their own projects soon. It is also very satisfying personally to be able to work with such committed Science teachers on the staff to produce such an event," he said.

An added excitement was the prizes on offer from local businesses, some of whom also gave time to mentor the students during their projects.

"We are delighted with the level of support shown by local businesses this year. It added an extra dimension to the excitement generated on the day and delighted the students in the sense that it really hit home that their efforts are so valued among the wider community. I feel this type of support will be an important factor in the development of the competition in the school in the future and would like to take the opportunity, on behalf of the Science department, to thank these businesses for their interest and encouragement".

Judges were Anne Lynch from Scifest, past pupil Dr Siobhan Walsh (PHD in Crop Science),  Declan Finlayson, Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST), and Rory Geoghan (PDST) and recently retired editor of Science, the Science Journal of the Irish Science Teachers Association.

Last year the first SciFest in Heywood was such a resounding success that it led on to six projects being accepted to the 2018 BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition. It was the only Laois secondary school chosen to exhibit this year.

The top three SciFest projects go forward to the Scifest@college competition in IT Carlow on April 24. The six teams who exhibited at the Young Scientist will also compete, a total of 23 Heywood students.

Click through our gallery of images, kindly supplied by the school.