A sixth-year student from Our Lady's Bower school in Athlone, Co Westmeath, has been named SciFest Stem Champion 2021. Clare Reidy received the award for her innovative research project which explored cosmic radiation protection.
Her research evaluated effective building materials for future exploration of Mars. She will represent the Republic next May at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair in Atlanta, US.
Cosmic radiation consists of high-energy particles travelling through space. Ms Reidy’s project investigated whether bricks made from Martian soil – known as regolith – could be used to block cosmic radiation. She discovered these bricks could offer effective protection and built an optimum brick using Martian regolith simulant as a primary component – which could help protect future inhabitants of Mars.
Minister for Education Norma Foley paid tribute to the 2021 winner and applauded participants in this year's competition. She also commended parents, teachers and mentors who helped students throughout the process.
SciFest is the largest science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) programme for second-level students in the Republic. This year’s national final took place on a bespoke virtual platform.