Physics papers reflect current public debate

BOTH Leaving Certificate physics papers yesterday used plenty of real-life and topical applications of the subject.

ASTI’s Edel McInerney welcomed a higher level question on Newton’s Law of Gravity about the international space station and felt that a question on nuclear fission reactors was also in line with public debate.

Some students might not have expected the experiment questions on the pendulum and monochromatic light which both appeared in 2006.

Michael Gillespie of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) said question types in the first section were similar to those of previous years, but one about light refraction and the impact on people’s eyes under water was a harder test of the relevant theory than usual.

Ms McInerney said an ordinary level question about rockets and space shuttles was topical in light of the recent mission to Mars and students should have liked a question about ambulance siren sound effects.

Mr Gillespie welcomed a topical question about energy efficiency in the home and, although two questions in the first section featured graphs, students had plenty choice.

ASTI’s John O’Sullivan said the higher level Junior Certificate technical graphics exam tested student knowledge in an applied manner, with a perspective drawing of a laptop computer and a sketch of a computer joystick in early questions. The challenging but fair second section included an orthographic projection of a toy train and a rotation of a euro symbol, while thumbnail sketches with two questions gave students a welcome help to visualise the solids being examined.

Mr O’Sullivan welcomed the way student understanding of the course was tested at ordinary level, with the first section featuring a drawing of an MP3 music player. Longer questions featured a projection of a radio and a logo for a waiting room, in which students were given the axis measurements of an ellipse in the image.

Junior Certificate woodwork papers were described as very fair by ASTI’s Noel Scott, who reported that higher level students found the first section easy to read with plenty sketching work. The second section had student-friendly language and most students liked a design process question.

He said the ordinary level paper also included simple language and half the second section required drawing or sketching. Mr Scott welcomed an eco-related question for the first time, which was about forestation.

The second set of Leaving Certificate technical drawing papers were both fair tests which should allow students achieve their own target grades, according to John O’Sullivan.

The popular mining geometry and hyperbolic paraboloid questions gave students a good start and another about road earthworks was challenging.

He said the ordinary level exam opened nicely as a thumb sketch accompanied the perspective drawing, and the normal manner of question was asked in relation to roof and mining geometry.


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