SHANNON STUDENT, Clíodhna Forrestal has been recognised for her innovative app to help visually and hearing impaired people navigate buildings.
Sixteen year old Clíodhna was awarded second place in the Technology Software category at Teen Turns SciFest, a national competition promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
Her project was one of 47 projects exhibiting at the event in Dublin along with five other projects from her school, St Patricks Comprehensive in Shannon. The app called ‘Project Breadcrumbs’ helps visually or hearing impaired people to navigate their way around buildings.
In order to learn how to code and to develop her app from a small idea into a real project, Clíodhna worked with Teen-Turn’s Project Squad. Project Squad is a twelve 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 Clíodhna 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 explained.
“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,” Clíodhna added.
St Patrick’s Comprehensive teacher, Jacquie Murphy who is a mentor on the programme noted the importance of encouraging girls to work 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”.
Jacquie said that they are receiving an increasing number of enquiries into the after-school club. “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”.
“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,” Ms Murphy concluded.