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Subject Information 

Science in Junior cycle aims to develop students’ evidence-based understanding of the natural world and their ability to gather and evaluate evidence: to consolidate and deepen their skills of working scientifically; to make them more self-aware as learners and become competent and confident in their ability to use and apply science in their everyday lives. More specifically it encourages all students  to enjoy the learning of science, leading to a lifelong interest  to develop scientific literacy  to develop a scientific habit of mind and inquiry orientation through class, laboratory and/or off-site activities. In Our Lady’s science is compulsory at Junior Cycle.

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  • Mr Lonergan

  • Ms Deery

  • Mr Nolan

  • Ms Reilly

  • Ms Brady 

  • Ms Kerr

  • Ms Mc Enaney


  • Ms Higgins

Agricultural Science

  • Ms Shortt


  • Ms Byrne

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Junior Cycle

At Junior Cycle Students will study 5 different strands of science:


  • The Nature of Science

  • Biological World 

  • Chemical World

  • Physical World 

  • Earth and Space


Students will complete 2 classroom based assessments for Junior Cycle. An Experimental Investigation in 2nd year and a Research Project in 3rd year. Each of these will be shown on the students profile of achievement. The 2nd classroom based assessment will be used to complete an assessment task in 3rd year which makes up 10% of the overall Junior Cycle result. Students will sit their exam in June which is a common paper and is worth 90% of the overall grade. 

Leaving Certificate Biology

Through the study of Biology students employ the processes of Science to explore the diversity of life and the inter-relationships between organisms. Students will become aware of the use of living organisms and their products to enhance human health and the environment. Students are provided with the knowledge, skills and understanding to pursue further education, training and employment in Biology and other science related fields, and to make judgements on contemporary issues in Biology and science that impact on their daily lives and on society.

The syllabus consists of approximately 70% biological knowledge, understanding and skills; the remaining 30% deals with the technological, social and economic aspects of biology. The final exam is 100% written examination. 

There are 3 main areas of Study in Leaving Cert Biology:

  • The Study of Life (Scientific Method, Food, Ecology)

  • The Cell (Cell Structure, Genetics, Enzymes)

  • The Organism (Plant and Animal Systems)

Leaving Certificate Physics

Physics deals with the fundamental laws of nature and how they impact on our daily lives. The course provides a good basis for further science study and also for any course where ability to think logically is required.  Science, technology and society (STS) is an integral part of the syllabus so that students can be aware of the principles of the applications of physics in the everyday world. Physics forms some part of the following courses at third level: Engineering, Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary, Science, Meteorology, Sports Science, Electronics and Computing.

Higher level Mathematics is not required for Physics although the course does include some calculations and the use of formulas.

Students follow a course of practical work, with prescribed experiments in each of the main sections of the syllabus and complete a 100% final written examination.  

Topics covered in Leaving Cert Physics:

  • Mechanics

  • Waves,   Light,   Sound

  • Temperature,   Heat

  • Electricity   &   Magnetism

  • Modern   Physics

  • Particle   Physics

Leaving Certificate Chemistry

This subject aims to provide a relevant course for students who will complete their study of Chemistry at this level while, at the same time, providing a foundation course for those who will continue to study Chemistry or related subjects. Chemistry investigates the elements and compounds that make up the physical world and looks at how they react together.  It looks at different types of materials, both natural and man-made. Chemistry forms some part of all courses in Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Nursing, and Engineering and in most Science courses. The syllabus consists of approximately 70% pure Chemistry; the remaining 30% deals with the social and applied aspects of Chemistry. Leaving Certificate Chemistry is assessed by means of terminal examination papers at higher and ordinary level. Students are required to complete and keep a record of 28 mandatory practical experiments over the two years of the course.

Transition Year chemistry is activity based. Pupils complete practical and research modules of their choice. These include forensics, special effects, making bath bombs, demonstrations to junior cycle students, careers project, poster on chemical of choice hydrogen rocket etc. Students are encouraged to enter various science competitions during Transition Year.

Topics covered in Leaving Certificate Chemistry:

  • periodic table and atomic structure

  • chemical bonding

  • stoichiometry and formulas and equations

  • acids and bases

  • volumetric analysis

  • thermochemistry

  • organic chemistry

  • rates of reaction

  • chemical equilibrium

  • Water chemistry.

  • industrial chemistry

  • atmospheric chemistry

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Leaving Certificate Agricultural Science

Leaving Certificate Agricultural Science involves the study of the science and technology underlying the principles and practices of agriculture. It aims to develop knowledge, skills and attitudes that promote the sustainability of agricultural resources, and places emphasis on the managed use of these resources. Agricultural Science is assessed at two levels, Ordinary level and Higher level, through a written examination and an assessment work undertaken during the course.

Plants and animal types associated with agriculture are studied, and investigations are undertaken into such aspects as soil, ecology, plant and animal physiology, farm crops, farming practices, genetics and microbiology.

The assessment work is worth 25% of the final mark in the Leaving Certificate. The work is assessed through a written project based on students' own practical experience of a farm industry, two crops and presentation of practical experiment work. An oral exam on completed work is assessed usually in the month of May of the Leaving Cert.

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April 23rd 2024 - Science News

Famous Astrophysicist Visits Our Lady’s

The Science Department was delighted, and privileged, to welcome astrophysicist Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell to Our Lady’s on Tuesday last. Dame Jocelyn achieved worldwide fame for her discovery of pulsars, while still a student at Cambridge University in England. Pulsars, which had never been seen before, seemed to emit very regular pulses of radiation – hence the name. It turned out these pulsars were fast spinning neutron stars. The discovery was deemed by many as being one of the most important of the twentieth century in astronomy.  It merited a Nobel prize for Physics – but it was not given to Jocelyn! Controversially, the award was given that year to her supervisor and another male Physicist. Many believe that it was because she was a woman.

Jocelyn grew up in Co. Armagh and was to experience bias against women in science at an early stage in her education. In her secondary school, boys were directed towards science and technical subjects, whereas the girls were excluded from these subjects and given cookery and needlework. Her parents’ outrage led to a change in school policy. Even when she had made her famous discovery, the media asked her male supervisor about the scientific details, whereas she had to answer questions about the number of boyfriends she’d had, her bust size, the colour of her hair!

She completed her secondary education in a school in England, where she could study Physics and ‘loved it’. Then it was on to the University of Glasgow for her primary degree and Cambridge University for her doctorate. Again, she was to question her own ability as a woman in the face of an overwhelmingly male student population, wondering if she would be ‘thrown out’.

The main thrust of her talk, then, to second year students concerned the representation of women in science, particularly Physics and Astronomy. The numbers are improving, but men significantly outnumber women in most STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) subjects in university. There is no reason why this should be the case, as women are equally competent in these areas. So, her message to the girls present was that if they have a liking and aptitude for STEM, then ‘go for it’.

Space here would not permit listing the numerous awards achieved by Dame Jocelyn throughout her illustrious career, but we will just mention one. In 2018 she was awarded the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. The award came with $3 million of prize money. She decided to use this prize money to help female, minority and refugee students to become research Physicists. This was the mark of a very generous person who also impressed us with her friendliness, humility and passionate support for women in science.


November 14th 2022 - Science News

Our Lady’s students qualify for the Young Scientist Competition

Congratulations to the students in Mr. Nolan’s TY Young Scientist module who qualified for the final of the BT Young Scientist competition which will take place at the RDS in January 2023. 

Annabel Bogue is investigating the ‘True Cost of the Accommodation Crisis in Ireland’, Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick is completing a ‘Statistical Study into the financial sustainability of the agricultural sector in Ireland’ while Cormac Mc Nally, Finian O’ Neill & Calum Cunningham are completing research into Waste Water Fertilizer. The school community wishes all five students every success as they continue with their hard work and preparations over the coming months. Speaking at the school during the week Principal Mr. Kelly ‘congratulated the students on their achievements to date and wished them well with their preparations over the coming months. Our school has an excellent record of representation and achievement at this prestigious competition and the Young Scientist module that we introduced in TY a number of years ago has been a resounding success in developing and supporting student interest in the STEM area.’

Photograph: TY students who qualified for the BT Young Scientist competition Annabel Bogue, Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick, Cormac Mc Nally, Finian O’ Neill & Calum Cunningham pictured with their teacher Mr. Nolan and Principal Mr. Kelly

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