SSPC partners with iCRAG for National Crystal Growing Competition

First place winner, Kieran Barrett from Clongowes Wood College SJ, Kildare.

The Synthesis and Solid State Pharmaceutical Centre (SSPC) with iCRAG (Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences), both funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), announced winners of the 2016 National Crystal Growing Competition at the national awards ceremony today.

The very successful SSPC National Crystal Growing Competition, now in its third year, has seen interest soar in schools nationally. For this reason, SSPC partnered with iCRAG to enable the acknowledgement of multiple schools achievements.

Speaking at the awards ceremony at the Bernal Institute in the University of Limerick, Dr Sarah Hayes, Education and Outreach Officer said:
“2016 was a hugely successful year with a record number of schools taking part in the competition. To acknowledge this we are holding two national finals, one in Limerick and one in Dublin. Crystal growing not only gives students an excellent opportunity to develop their interest in science, it broadens their minds and crystal growing is an exciting challenge. Congratulations to all the deserving winners, it looks like the bar has been set even higher for the next competition.”

At the University of Limerick event, the crystal growing winners were, Kieran Barrett Gomez, 1st place from Clongowes Wood College SJ, Kildare, Cathy O’Neill, 2nd place, from Ardscoil Na Mara Secondary School Tramore, Waterford and Ava Downey O'Mahoney, from Portumna Community School, Co. Galway, 3rd place. Scoil Ide primary school, Corbally, Limerick, were invited along to acknowledge the fantastic crystals they entered at primary school level.

Dr Fergus Mc Auliffe, Education, Public Engagement and Communications Manager, iCRAG added: “We are delighted to be involved in such an innovative competition, as both centres run formidable science outreach activities, we play a vital role in encouraging and developing interest in science among Irish students. The standard of crystals were excellent this year, making it very hard to choose a winner.”

The second awards ceremony, held later in the week, at University College Dublin, acknowledged winners, Dominika Dacus, from Cabinteely Community School, 1st place, Adrianna Matynia, from St. Paul's Secondary School, Greenhills D12, 2nd place and Josh Healy, from Cabinteely Community School, 3rd place.

The SSPC National Crystal Growing Competition is an important element of SFI’s public engagement remit. The aim of the competition is to have fun with science and to inspire young minds to explore careers in the field. The competition was open to primary and post-primary schools in Ireland and aimed at students challenged to grow a single crystal from a variety of compounds such as Salt (Sodium Chloride), Alum, Sugar, or Copper Sulphate.

The competition originated in 2014 with the IUCr Crystal growing competition, as part of the celebrations for the International Year of Crystallography. It has since grown from strength to strength and is a great addition to the many SFI outreach programmes hosted in Ireland.