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Galway student in a class of her own at SciFest!

A Galway student has taken home the top prize at SciFest@TUS Athlone, one of Ireland’s largest regional science fairs for second-level students, held this week at the Technology University of the Shannon (TUS), Athlone Campus.

Michaela Gillooly, fifth year student at Glenamaddy Community School, took home the SciFest “Best Project” overall award for her investigation into the relationship between the menstrual cycle and female athletic performance.

A rugby player with a “big interest in sports”, Michaela’s idea for the project stemmed from her own experience of tracking the menstrual cycle to see if she, herself, noticed a big difference on the days when she had a match or was training.

“I felt I didn’t perform as well as I usually would, so I was like, right, yeah, I think there has to be something there,” Michaela said of the genesis of her SciFest@TUS Athlone project.

Michaela, a determined student whose ultimate dream is to become a Home Economic and Biology teacher, also competed in last year’s SciFest@TUS Athlone competition, taking home a top award in a group category.

Congratulating Michaela on her achievement, her teacher Aoife Collins said, “She puts so much hard work into it. She’s done it all. She has owned this project, and I’m so delighted for her.”

A total of 380 students from across the Midlands and further afield from counties like Galway and Mayo competed in this year’s SciFest@TUS Athlone, showcasing their passion for and knowledge of science, engineering, technology, and maths.

More than 200 projects were on display, covering an array of scientific topics, including neuroplasticity, climate change, sustainable packaging.

Michaela will now go forward to compete at the SciFest National Final in November 2024 for a chance to named SciFest STEM Champion 2024 and represent Ireland at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in May 2025 in Columbus, Ohio.

Pictured: Michaela Gillooly from Glenamaddy Community School, winner of the SciFest Best Project, with Sheila Porter of SciFest and TUS President Professor Vincent Cunnane in Athlone.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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