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Junior Cycle Physics Activities

I don't know of any source where I could find specific statistics on this, but it seems pretty clear from every physics teacher I've ever spoken to that we are heavily outnumbered in Irish schools by Biology teachers. A quick glance at Leaving Cert figures tells us that there are somewhere in the ballpark of 35,000 students taking Biology in the Leaving Cert each year, and that this compares with a little under 8,000 taking Physics.

It might be a bit simplistic, but that would suggest that there are more than 4 biology teachers for every physics teacher in Irish schools. And this means that a randomly selected junior student is 4 times more likely to be learning from a biology-specialist teacher than a physics-specialist*. It's presumably impossible to measure, but that has to at least contribute to the numbers who choose to take each subject at Leaving Cert.

When I think of my own struggles to teach Junior Cycle biology based on what I learned when I last studied the subject (in the Inter Cert, 1981**) and what little I've managed to pick up since then, I wonder how many teachers are really struggling to find interesting and valid activities or practical relevant to the physics learning outcomes.

So with that in mind, I've put together (with colleagues) a little booklet of activities that would cover most of the learning outcomes from the specs for the Junior Cycle Physical World. Its available here, in general resources. (look on the 2nd line).

It's written with non-physics teachers in mind, with a view to being a document that physics teachers could share with their colleagues. From what I've heard anecdotally, its also likely that a little help in using equipment like multimeters might be welcome.

Anybody who has done something similar and is willing to share, just let me know. Its a work in progress and I'm sure it can be improved upon.

* Not that there's anything wrong with being a biology teacher.....

** Look it up in the history books

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