Congratulations to Ruth Madden from Largy College Clones, who won the Gold Award for Physics and Engineering at a major International Science and Technology Competition which took place in Hong Kong on 1st August 2020.
Ruth was representing Scifest, Largy College and Ireland when showcasing her invention, “The Microplastic Filter – A small solution to a global problem”. Ruth’s globally unique filter system removes microplastic fibres and particles suspended in the wastewater of domestic washing machines effectively preventing their entry into water courses and the wider environment.
Ruth’s nomination to participate in the event in Hong Kong arose from her success in the 2019 Irish National finals of SciFest where she won the prestigious Technological Higher Education Association (THEA) Award and an excellence in STEM award presented by Science Foundation Ireland. Ruth also won the 2019 ASM Materials Education Foundation Award for her project, ASM International based in the Unites States, is the world’s largest association of materials engineers and scientists.
Her most recent success saw a professional review panel, composed of academia, judge the projects. Due to the restrictions arising from COVID-19, judging in Ruth’s category was conducted via Zoom meetings by five university professors, whose areas of speciality included physics, biomedical, computing, electrical and electronic engineering. The interviews were broadcast live from Ruth’s house to allow public viewing and took the format of a 5-minute student presentation, followed by question and answer session with the professors. In addition, to assist the judges in their considerations, the professors had available to them, both a Project Abstract, a pre-recorded film presentation and a thirty-page Project Report which had been furnished last month by each competitor. Li Jianle, the Director of the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups (Innovation and Creativity) who coordinated the competition, said that the competition proved that the enthusiasm of the students is unhindered by the epidemic, and it is an empirical example of using technology to solve problems.
The event, an international student science competition in the areas of biology, chemistry, physics and engineering, is a showcase of global youth scientific achievement and innovation, which aims to promote science and technology, providing a platform for global youth to develop their creativity and scientific mindsets, and facilitate the exchange of scientific ideas, interests and abilities among young scientists all over the world.
In total there were 122 teams nominated from around the world representing 22 countries/regions including inter alia Hong Kong, Macau, South Africa, Jordan, Indonesia, South Korea, Mexico, Qatar, Russia, Turkey and Ireland. Following an initial round of judging, 93 students made it through to the Grand Final.
Sharon Magennis, Principal of Largy College, said “We are very proud of Ruth and her success as this is the first time representatives from Ireland have been invited to enter this competition, so it was not only a remarkable achievement to make it to the final, but to win the top prize for Physics and Engineering was outstanding.”
“At Largy College many STEAM initiatives like LEGO Mindstorm, Maths week, Science Week and digital literacy are continually promoted within the school. Students are fortunate to have the opportunity to combine Science subjects and Engineering technology for the Leaving Certificate. Girls are encouraged to take these subjects and like their male counterparts have achieved success in winning National titles in Leaving Certificate Engineering. Indeed Ruth has combined her Science and Engineering skills in using Solid Works to ensure precision manufactured laser-cut components for her unique project.”
Earlier in the year a group of 2nd year Science students won the Saffron Travel Science Competition. For the competition students had to make a 3-minute video on how Science and Technology integrate different modes of transport to make travelling easier, cleaner and more energy efficient in their community in the next 10-20 years. The prize was for 20 students and their teachers to go on an all-expenses paid trip to Belgium, Holland and Germany – the Saffron Science European border hoppin’ experience in January this year.
Despite the difficult academic environment which arose from COVID-19, teachers still encouraged students to enter competitions. Two 2nd year students entered the Reel Life Science @home competition and they worked very hard on their video despite the challenge of working in separate houses during lockdown. They showed great collaboration and online teamwork skills with their teacher to produce their film. A 1st Year and 2nd year student also entered Scifest @college online this year. Despite the uncertainty around Covid-19 they amended their projects and still completed them while also following all HSE guidelines.
Sharon Magennis, Principal of Largy College, said: “Largy College is very proud of all these students who, in such challenging circumstances, found the motivation and resourcefulness to complete their project-based work to an exceptional standard. As with most success, it is founded on leadership, collaboration and teamwork, so well done to all the supporting families and their teachers, in particular Ms Colette Smith, for providing the platform for these successes.”