Largy College scoop top awards at Scifest 2022 in DKIT

Three 1st year students: Dara Courtney, Sean Clerkin & Joshua Brandon entered Scifest this year which took place in Dundalk IT on Tuesday 10th May. Schools from all around the region assembled in the Institute of Technology and set up their projects. The students then had to present their projects to several judges.

Dara, Sean and Joshua had a project entitled “A Four Seasons Photovoltaic Self-Charging Rover – the Mars PSR”, on display on the day. We were absolutely delighted when it was announced that their project won the ‘ESERO Discover Space Award’. Furthermore, the students also scooped one of the biggest awards ‘The Scifest 2022 Runner-Up Best Project Award’! Despite Largy’s successes in the past in this competition – it was a remarkable achievement this time for 1st years to win these awards. By winning the runner up award this means that the students now qualify to have their project considered for participation in the Scifest 2022 National Final which will be held on 25th November in the Marino Conference Centre in Dublin. Some of the judge’s comments on the day were: “very impressive well thought out project and was presented excellently”, “very informed and well researched project” and “excellent prototyping and assembly”.

As a group they all share one common interest and that is anything that is Earth and Space related! They decided to do a project in some way related to Mars – which seems to be the buzz ‘go-to’ planet now! Mars is one of the most explored bodies in our solar system, and it's the only planet where we have sent rovers to roam the alien landscape. What inspired them to make this vehicle was the current expedition of the NASA Perseverance Mars Rover.

The students have been working on the Mars PSR for months and started by designing and making a protype using equipment found at home or in the lab. Then the final design was completed on Solidworks. They decided to use solar cells on this design. Solar energy is often used to power space missions because it is the only source of energy that does not need to be launched with the spacecraft and can power the spacecraft for several years. While relying on solar panels may seem risky in such a dusty environment on Mars but doing so lessens the amount of mass at launch, lowering cost and complication for the mission and this is why they decided to use solar cells. It was decided that they needed to make some type of a vacuum system that will blow off the dust that clogs around the moving parts. NASA have had limited success themselves with this idea but the students wanted to try something anyway and made various protypes of hoover systems that could attach to a Mars Rover!

They also made a base from Papier Mache that was the same colour as the surface of Mars and they added some coloured sand to give a close resemblance to the surface of Mars as possible. The Rover is built with materials that will not rust on Mars and it is light weight and will be easily transported to Mars if it were to be a full-scale model. The solar panels were facing all sides for the most sunlight exposure. It’s a 4 season Photovoltaic panel rover so it can take energy from the sun all Martian -year-round. 

Best of luck to Dara, Joshua and Sean if they get through to the National Final. They will be working on their project over the summer months and they should know by October if they have been selected. Excellent achievement – well done!

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Largy College, Post Primary School, Clones, Co Monaghan is part of the Cavan and Monaghan Education and Training Board, Bord Oideachais agus Oiliúna Chabháin agus Mhuineacháin

 

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