General introduction to this subject at Leaving Cert.
Deals with the physical world – heat, light, sound, electricity, atomics and magnetism. It is of key importance in engineering, radiography, physiotherapy and medicine and also useful for aviation, geology, meteorology, metallurgy, navy, oceanography, electrical and electronics areas, computers, telecommunications and all science courses.
Similarities/differences between Junior & Senior Cycle
Similarities: Topics are the same as in Junior Cert. Some of the same formulas are used
Differences: Degree of difficulty increases. New topics include Semiconductors, Radioactivity and Light (to a more difficult level), Modern Atomics. More applications to everyday science, technology and society.
What are the main topics/themes covered in the Leaving Cert syllabus?
Light: Concave/convex, wave nature
Mechanics: Velocity, acceleration, force, pressure
Electricity: Current & Static
Radioactivity: Nuclear fusion/fission/atomics
Semiconductors: Transistors, diodes, rectifiers
Waves and Sound: Echoes & Vibrations
How is the subject examined at the end of the course?
3 Hour Exam
Section A: 3 questions on 4 of the 24 mandatory experiments
Section B: Answer 5 questions out of 8 on theory, experiments and applications.
What other school subjects do you see it being linked to at Leaving Cert level?
Strong link with maths, it used to be recommended that students taking Physics should be studying honours maths but this is no longer the case as the degree of difficulty of the maths type questions has been reduced. Some overlap with Chemistry.
What type of skills will it help develop?
Use of logic to solve problems. Skills involving experiments and deducing conclusions from experiments. Graph plotting. Understanding the concepts behind devices.
What do students like about it?
The use of maths to solve equations. Lots of hands-on practical work as there are 24 mandatory experiments to complete.
What might they find challenging about it?
Students that are not willing to work hard will find that they will lose interest and find the subject boring. Some parts require the learning of equations and definitions, which some pupils find difficult. If you are weak at maths and obtained a B or less in Ordinary Level at Junior Cert you are advised to think very carefully about selecting Physics.