Longford student wins first place in crystal-growing competition

Crystal-growing success for Melview NS

Longford student wins first place in crystal-growing competition

David Masterson from Melview National School, Co. Longford. Photo: Oisin McHugh, True Media

David Masterson's talents certainly paid off for him recently as he won first place in the SSPC National Crystal Growing Competition.

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 2017 competition at an awards ceremony last week.

The very successful SSPC National Crystal Growing Competition, now in its fourth year, has seen interest soar in schools nationally.

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 also 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 who were 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.
Speaking at the awards ceremony at the Bernal Institute in the University of Limerick (UL), Prof. Gavin Walker, SSPC Co-Director, said: “Crystals are very important in science; they are low-costing and a high-value route to new and better medicines.

“It is fantastic to see students being taught how science exists in the real world.”

Dr Martin McHugh, SSPC Education and Outreach Officer, added:

“2017 was a record year for entrants. The crystal growing competition really sparks student interest and teaches them how to be a real scientist. Congratulations to all the deserving winners.”

At the University of Limerick event, the crystal-growing winners were, David Masterson, 1st place from Melview National School, Co. Longford, Alex Toribio, 2nd place from Cabinteely Community School, Co. Dublin and Thomas Mason, also from Cabinteely Community School Co. Dublin.

Dr Fergus Mc Auliffe, Education, Public Engagement and Communications Manager, iCRAG added:

“This year’s crystal entries again raised the bar for what can be achieved in school laboratories around the country.

“We are delighted to acknowledge the hard work of both students and their teachers today in UCD and to give the students insight into the many uses of crystals in the earth sciences.”

The SSPC leads the way for next generation drug manufacture and spans the entire pharmaceutical production chain from synthesis of the molecule, to the isolation of the material, and the formulation of the medicine. The aim of the SSPC is to deliver industry relevant solutions, which result in job growth and retention within the pharmaceutical industry in Ireland.

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