iCRAG, together with the Synthesis and Solid State Pharmaceutical Centre (SSPC) both funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), announced winners of the 2016 National Crystal Growing Competition at the national awards ceremonies recently.

The very successful National Crystal Growing Competition, now in its third year, has seen interest soar in schools nationally. For this reason, the creators of the competition, SSPC, partnered with iCRAG this year to enable the acknowledgement of multiple schools achievements. At the UCD final event, the crystal growing winners were, Dominika Dacus, Cabinteely Community School, Co. Dublin 1st place, Adrianna Matynia, St. Paul’s Secondary School, Greenhills, Dublin 2nd place, and Josh Healy, Cabinteely Community School, Co. Dublin

Speaking at the awards ceremony in UCD, Dr Fergus Mc Auliffe, Education, Public Engagement and Communications Manager, iCRAG, said, “We are delighted to be involved in such an innovative competition, as both centres run formidable science outreach activities, we play a vital role in encouraging and developing interest in science among Irish students. The standard of crystals were excellent this year, making it very hard to choose a winner.”

Prof. John Walsh, Director of iCRAG, added, “The joint iCRAG – SSPC National Crystal Growing Competition is an important element of our centre’s public engagement programme, inspiring young minds as to the possibilities and application of crystals in our everyday lives – from mineral formation and crystal structure in the natural world to the pharmaceutical uses of crystals for public health. We were very impressed with the fantastic standard of crystals grown and congratulations to all of the winners and participants.”

Speaking at the awards ceremony at the Bernal Institute in the University of Limerick, Dr Sarah Hayes, Education and Outreach Officer said: “2016 was a hugely successful year with a record number of schools taking part in the competition. To acknowledge this we are holding two national finals, one in Limerick and one in Dublin. Crystal growing not only gives students an excellent opportunity to develop their interest in science, it broadens their minds and crystal growing is an exciting challenge. Congratulations to all the deserving winners, it looks like the bar has been set even higher for the next competition.”

The SSPC – iCRAG 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.