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Cliodhna at the festival with her project.

Cliodhna craics code with fun school STEM programme

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A SHANNON student has been recognised at a national science event for her innovative app that helps visually and hearing-impaired people navigate buildings.

Cliodhna Forrestal, 16, from St Patrick’s Comprehensive, was awarded  second place  in the Technology Software category at Teen Turn SciFest, a competition promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Her project was one of 47 exhibiting at the event in Dublin along with five others  from the Comp. 

The app called ‘Project Breadcrumbs’ helps visually or hearing impaired people to find their way around buildings. 

In order to learn how to code and to develop her app from a small idea into a real project, Cliodhna worked with Teen-Turn’s Project Squad.

Project Squad is a 12-week after-school programme that partners girls with a mentor, who supports them to bring their science idea to life.

Before working with Teen-Turn Cliodhna had never coded and had no idea how to go about developing an app from scratch.

“Starting off I had no idea how to build an app, so they helped point me in the right direction. They pointed out the flaws that I might have missed or overlooked. They also organised trips where I got to talk to people and get advice for my app,” she said. 

On participation in the Teen Turns after school programme, Cliodhna added, “I found it was a great learning experience. I really enjoyed it and I want to continue with Technovation.

“I enjoyed just spending time after school with my friends having the craic despite me doing an individual project.

“I had no idea what I wanted to do when I joined Teen-Turn, and it made me realise I liked working with computers and the idea of learning the programming behind computers and apps. I think I will probably want to continue working with them in the future. I don’t think if I hadn’t signed up to Teen-Turn I would have learned this.”

Teen Turn Lead Mentor and St Patrick’s Comprehensive teacher Jacquie Murphy said, “We are ecstatic to have their encouragement and support in working with girls in STEM.

“They have given some fantastic opportunities to our young women in the field of STEM and have helped students to develop and find their love for these subjects. Our girls are availing of opportunities that they have not had before and we have developed relationships with local companies and resources based on our work with Teen Turn. 

“Our after school club is going from strength to strength with girls taking full advantage of the mentorship they receive from so many people in various STEM industries.

“Teen Turn encourages our girls to solve problems with independence and strategy while being guided and supported by their mentors. They also get first hand experience of industries in the STEM subjects through some wonderful field trips.

“Their trips to some of our fine third level institutions in Galway and Cork have also given them an insight into what life at university might hold.

“It is with great excitement that we see more and more girls enquiring about our after-school club with Teen Turn and our Project Squad and Technovation projects.

“Teachers and parents have noted how this encouragement and investment in our girls has been helping to build confidence and inspire girls to follow their passion for these subjects.

“By providing resources, equipment and life experiences in STEM, Teen Turn is helping us to change the lives of young women in Co. Clare and we are very grateful for their support. We look forward to continuing and developing this partnership with Teen Turn as we strive to embolden more young women to follow their dreams in STEM.”

Owen Ryan
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Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.

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