Limerick pupils win €10,000 top prize at BD STEM Star Awards

Limerick pupils win €10,000 top prize at BD STEM STAR Awards

Overall winners of the BD Stem Stars, Emma Brennan and Aoife Lee, 5th year students at Desmond College, Newcastle West and (below) Niamh O’Connor from Salesian Secondary School, Pallaskenry

PUPILS from four Limerick schools have demonstrated their futures are bright when it comes to identifying and solving health issues in Ireland.

The students and their schools have received awards and funding at the second BD STEM Stars competition, which took place this Tuesday.

The top prize of €10,000 funding for STEM projects was awarded to Desmond College, Newcastle West with €5,000 going to Salesian Secondary College in Pallaskenry.

Pupils from Scoil Pol, Kilfinane and Gaelcholáiste Uí Chonbá, Newcastle West received special commendation and €1,000 each for their projects.

The successful students 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, 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 winning project ‘Exercise is the Key’ was submitted by Aoife Lee & Emma Brennan - transition year students from Desmond College.

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.

At Salesian Secondary College, Pallaskenry, Niamh O’Connor examined the topic “Dealing with the daily challenges posed by living with cerebral palsy”.

She 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. 

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. 

“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," said Padraig Fitzgerald, BD RCI’s Site Director who chaired the judging panel.

"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 in recognition of their projects," he added.

Presenting the awards, Professor Norelee Kennedy, commented: “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 click here.

More News

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.