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BD Stem Stars from Colaiste Muire, Ennis were transition year studentsIsolde Hegarty, Molly Hennessy, Hannah Clune, Sinéad Ní Dhúlaing and Éabha Warner Photograph Liam Burke/Press 22

Future is bright for Colaiste Muire students

PUPILS from an Ennis school have demonstrated their futures are bright when it comes to identifying and solving health issues in Ireland today. Transition year students of Coláiste Muire Isolde Hegarty, Molly Hennessy, Hannah Clune, Sinéad Ní Dhúlaing and Éabha Warner have received an award at the second BD STEM Stars competition.
The local students scooped €5,000 in funding for STEM projects after coming in second runner up place. Their entry proposed an app to support teenagers in managing their mental health.
The Vedriti App and Panic Button Technology is a safe space online to support the mental health and well-being of teenagers. The students identified the challenges of the pandemic as putting even greater pressure on mental health and looked at how they could provide teenagers with peer-to-peer support as well as information on where to go for further help.
They beat off competition from across Limerick and Clare in showing step-by-step how they firstly identified an issue and then, through research, testing and learning, how they could solve it using what they learn in STEM subjects. 
The winners were announced at a virtual presentation today, hosted by BD Research Centre Ireland with the support of Limerick & Clare Education and Training Board. Professor Norelee Kennedy, Vice President of Research, at University of Limerick presented the awards.
The overall winners and recipients of €10,000 were Desmond College, Newcastle West. Padraig Fitzgerald, BD RCI’s Site Director chaired the judging panel. “All of the students were able to clearly show how the STEM subjects they study in school have given them skills to solve real-life health problems. This is exactly why Ireland has such a strong reputation in research and innovation, attracting companies like BD to set up R&D centres in the country. Despite the restrictions around the pandemic in the last year, we saw a huge degree of curiosity, teamwork, innovation and resourcefulness in the entries. BD is delighted to be in a position to recognise talent in the area and award prize money to be put towards STEM resources at Desmond College, Salesian Secondary School, Colaiste Muire, Scoil Pol and Gaelcholáiste Uí Chonbá in recognition of their projects.”
Presenting the awards, Professor Norelee Kennedy, Vice President for Research at the University of Limerick said, “I would like to congratulate BD on this innovative and impactful initiative. STEM skills are crucial to the future well-being and development of our island and this region, and it is vital that STEM education in the school system continues to develop to support these skills needs. This has been a long-standing topic of research and education at the University of Limerick, which hosts the National Centre for STEM Education. The BD STEM Stars focus on health this year is very welcome given the pandemic and the importance of students developing skills and knowledge to support their own well-being.”

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