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top science

top science


Junior Cycle Programme

The new Science course is inquiry based, were the student will learn by investigating and researching topics and develop ideas to explain events/phenomena. They interpret and analyse data and as a result learn the higher order skills to meet the challenges beyond school life.

The new junior cycle is divided into four strands: Chemical world, Physical world, Biological world and the new strand Earth and Space.  

Biological World

Students will study the cell, the basic unit of life and explore patterns of inheritance and variations among people due to genetic and environmental factors. The students will learn about how the human body functions. They will study human health and the factors that affect it, including nutrition and lifestyle choices which will stand to them throughout their lives.  They will learn about different organism in our environment and how they interact with each other. The students will take part in a field study.  

Chemical World

Students will study matter and the changes it undergoes. They investigate the properties of materials and classify substances as elements, compounds, mixtures etc. In this strand students will evaluate the impact of human activity on sustainability through the extraction, use, disposal and recycling of materials.

Physical World

Students will study measurement and should be able to select and use the appropriate measuring instruments.  They will learn to analyse and interpret patterns between physical observables. They will learn to design simple electronic circuits and they will study energy changes.

Earth and Space

Students will develop their knowledge on the solar system by studying the various celestial bodies in space.  They will explore the relationship between the sun, earth and moon and develop models to explain how we have day and night, seasons and lunar phases.  They will develop their understanding of the carbon and water cycles.  They will examine the impact of human activity has on earth.

Transition Year Science

The transition year science programme is divided into three ten week modules.

Module 1: Forensic Science

This module will delve into the enquiry minds of our students.  They will learn to solve scientific problems by analysing data. They will learn about forensic entomology and the role an entomologist plays in forensic cases. They will make their own unique pattern of fingerprints and explain why everybody has a unique set.  They will learn about genetics and DNA.  They will make a model of the DNA double helix to aid their understanding of its structure and make a DNA profile on paper to solve a crime. They will study impressive evidence and make a cast of their shoes.  They will learn about blood and the significance of it at a crime scene. The students will discuss the importance of eye-witness evidence.  At the end of the 10 weeks the students will participate in a group STEM project, egg drop experiment, were they will learn to work as a team, improve communication skills and problem-solving skills. 

Module 2: Sports Science/Physiology

This ten week module allows students to gain insight into the world of sports psychology, how athletes train and prepare for competition and how they can use these techniques in their own lives, especially facing into the senior cycle. 

Wellbeing is also a factor in this module, with students learning about factors that affect their social, physical and mental health. Pressures that they face on an everyday basis will be discussed in an honest and open environment with specific emphasis placed on empathy to their fellow students.

The final part of the module is an introduction to the senior cycle Biology course, focussing on human anatomy and physiology. It blends the two subjects together and presents them in such a way that students will be easily able to incorporate parts of the Biology course into their own fitness and training, once they understand the mechanics of the human body.

Module 3 

Topics covered:

  1. Finding the value of g using a simple pendulum by formula and slope methods and determine if the length of the pendulum effects the accuracy of results.
  2. Design and construction of compressed air rockets.
  3. Testing the p H of everyday substances using a red cabbage dye indicator and comparing results with a commercial universal indicator.
  4. The physics of external respiration. Design and build a device to demonstrate how the human breathing system works in terms of Boyle’s Law.
  5. Experiment to verify Boyle’s Law.
  6. To determine the range of human hearing and to examine the effect of age on the range.
  7. Scientific evidence for Plate Tectonics and Continental Drift.
  8. To determine the effects of a) soil type and b) soil temperature on the growth of seedlings.
  9. Using starch and malt agar plates, investigate the growth of bacteria and fungi from a) air-borne b) lab desk surface c) finger-nail and d) sole of shoe sources.
  10.  Investigate the phenomenon of resonance using masses suspended from a wire.

For each topic investigated students must conduct background research, record results and observations and write a comprehensive report.

Senior Science

All senior science subjects are available at higher and ordinary levels.


Biology is the study of living things, including their structure, organisation, chemistry and interactions with one another and their environment. It also includes the study of organisms that are no longer living, but which tell the stories of evolution and diversity, and occur as fossilised evidence.

There are many different branches of Biology that the senior students in Marian College will get the chance to study. 

These include:

  • Botany : the study of plants
  • Zoology : the study of animals
  • Palaeontology : the study of fossils
  • Physiology : the study of how an organism works
  • Ecology : the study of how living things interact with each other and their environment

Why study Biology?

The study of living things has many advantages, it helps us to know about the structure of our bodies, what is happening when we are ill and can help students to improve their health by learning about the right foods to be eating and the amount of exercise to be incorporating in their lives, especially around exam time.

Students will also be able to analyse and evaluate the accuracy of scientific claims, appreciate the changing patterns in nature that accompany each season and learn about care of the environment, including minimising detrimental behaviours that cause pollution.

Ecological Fieldtrip.

Senior Biology students undertake a compulsory ecology fieldtrip in 6thyear, these take place either at Dublin Zoo, Scotsman’s Bay or Bull Island. Each trip focusses on a specific ecosystem, for example students who go to Scotsmans Bay will be studying a rocky seashore, finding out about the biotic (living) and abiotic (non-living) factors that are found here. There is a competition to find the most unusual living organism at the rocky seashore, with students finding starfish, hermit crabs and even an octopus.

Careers in Biology.

Many subjects at third level require a science subject, and for some like medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, sports science, nursing and physiotherapy, Biology is essential. 

There are also many careers where having a knowledge of Biology would be incredibly useful. These include: forestry, zoo keeping, food preparation, gardening, dog grooming and many more.

Biology Main Sections 

The new L.C. Biology course comprises of 3 main sections, each of which includes a series of compulsory, practical student activities and projects.

Section 1 – Biology the study of Life
This section includes topics such as characteristics of life and the relationships between species and between species and their environment. This is known as “ecology”.
The “ecology” section includes ‘field work’, projects and activities including:
1. Plant and animal collection,
2. Equipment using keys to identify plants and animals,
3. A detailed study of an ecosystem e.g. woodland, beach, stream, hedgerow etc..

Also included are the effects of humans, good or bad, on the environment and a study of the chemicals needed for life.

Section 2 – The Cell
In this section the structure of cells is examined and how they work, produce and use energy; how nutrients are absorbed, and how waste is removed.
Genetics – is a vital component of the course. Genetics deals with:
1. How cells reproduce
2. How cell function is controlled by DNA
3. What is DNA, what is it’s structure, and how it produces proteins which give organisms their appearance, role and behaviour
4. How mutations (changes) in DNA, either accidental or deliberate, can alter the functioning of cells giving rise to “Evolution”.
The evidence for and against Evolution is discussed as is the basic mechanism by which it works.

Section 3 – The Organism
Here, the diversity (range) of living organisms is discussed. Examples of topics includes:
1. The structure of flowering plants
2. How food and nutrients are transported
3. How plants respond to their environment
4. How plants reproduce

Humans are used as a typical example of an animal species. Examined in detail are:
1. Human circulation
2. Breathing
3. Respiration
4. Maintenance of the correct chemical environment in the body
5. The nervous system, hormones, skeletal structure, defense against disease and
6. Human Reproduction

There is no direct examination of practical work but a detailed knowledge of practical aspects will be expected in answers to direct questions in the written examination.

Examples Included:
Field Work activities in the area of ecology. A detailed quantitative study of a selected ecosystem is required. A question covering this will be asked in the written examination
The structure, working principle and use of microscopes. The preparation of slides and examination of specific structures
The dissection of a cow or sheep’s heart
A range of laboratory experiments will be conducted by students or demonstrated by the teacher.

Topics may include:
Tests for sugar
Enzyme activity
Action of yeast
Exercise and breathing rate
Controls on seed Germination etc..

The course is offered at Higher and Ordinary level. Basic core material is the same for both but extra material is demanded for H Level as sell as a greater depth of knowledge and applications of that knowledge. Pure science accounts for 70% of the course while 30% is based on the technological, social, political and economic aspects of Biology.

These notes were compiled by Dr. Eamonn Mc Cabe – Marian College


This is an experimental subject and records of practical work done should be kept and be available for inspection.

Introduction to atomic structure, kinetic/particulate nature of matter, stoichemistry, formulae and equations, periodic table and atomic structure, thermochemistry, rates of chemical reaction, crystal structures and shapes of molecules, carbon and hydrogen, chemical equilibrium, hydrogen, oxygen and water, chemistry of non-metals nitrogen and sulphur, electrochemistry and reactions of some organic compounds containing oxygen.

Higher level candidates do a more in-depth study of each topic than ordinary level candidates.

Chemistry is essential for Human Nutrition and Dietetics-DIT
Dentistry-UCC and Medical Laboratory Science Diploma-DIT
Students who wish to take Higher Level Chemistry in the Leaving Certificate would be advised to have Higher Levels Grade B in both Science and Mathematics at Junior Certificate Level.
Chemistry - HC-is now essential for Veterinary Medicine/Science in UCD.


At Marian College our students cover the Physics course in an applied way. Senior students explore the physical world through classroom experiments in the areas of mechanics, heat, sound, light and electricity with both traditional and modern equipment. In sixth year students continue to learn about modern physics and the quantum realm including, the electron, nuclear and particle physics. Our strong focus on practical experiments also gives our students an advantage by showing them what a powerful tool mathematics can be, by connecting their own concrete measurements to their calculations.



Physics deals with the laws and forces governing natural phenomena including; light, heat, electricity and magnetism. It is essential for the study of all branches of Engineering. This is an experimental subject and practical laboratory work is an integral part of the course.


Mechanics, forces, energy, heat, wave motion, sound light optical instruments, wave nature of light, electricity, electric field, capacitance, electric current, electromagnetism, atomic physics and the nucleus, semiconductors.
Higher Level students do a more in-depth study of each topic than the ordinary level student.

Physics is a very useful subject for technical/engineering/scientific courses/careers. Physics is essential for a degree in electronic and electrical Engineering(UCC) and for Theoretical Physics (TCD).
Students who swish to study Physics at Higher Level would be will advised to have a Grade B Higher Level Science and a Grade B Higher Level Mathematics at Junior Certificate Level.

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