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Physics

Subject summary

Physics describes the laws and forces that govern natural phenomena. The subject aims to enhance students ability to think logically, to observe, to understand scientific method and to communicate effectively. It offers a general education in physics for all students. 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. It is used to solve problems and understand how the world works in every detail at the deepest level. The Leaving Cert Physics course follows directly from Junior Cert Science, and covers more topics in greater depth. Physics is often referred to as the Maths side of science, even though only a small proportion of the course is based on Maths. Physics aims to enhance the student’s ability to think logically, observe and understand scientific method. The course is heavily based around experiments - students are required to complete and write reports of 24 practical experiments throughout the two years of Senior Cycle, and be fully aware of: how to accurately record and analyse results as well as how to minimise and accommodate for experimental errors. These laboratory experiments, along with many more non-compulsory experiments, are examined in detail on a section of the written exam paper.

Why study ?

If you want to use your imagination, your practical ability and your creative flair, then physics could be for you. If you are fascinated by the world about you and would like to understand more about it, or if you are thinking about a career in engineering, medicine, computing, the environment, space or technology, then physics is for you. If you want to use that interest in the world around you to solve many of the Earth’s greatest problems then physics is definitely for you. From the search for renewable fuels to the use of solar power in water purification schemes in developing countries, physicists are working with engineers, biologists, chemists, governments, charities and industry to make our planet a safer and more sustainable place. Physics teaches students to think logically and enables them to express their thoughts in a concise manner. The skills and knowledge developed through their study of physics can be useful in a wide variety of situations. Pupils who will gain the most from studying physics are those who have an interest in science at Junior Cert level and those who enjoy learning about how things work. The science, technology and society section allows students the chance to see where the physics they are learning applies as in TVs, car motors and electricity in the home and also, to see some of the industrial applications of certain topics. Physics is a key part of science and technology; it deals with how and why things behave as they do. Physics is used to solve problems: environmental, social, health, technological and many more. Its about practical things but also involves ideas such as the origin of the universe and the tiniest building blocks of all materials. Physics lies at the heart of science, engineering, technology our planet and the universe itself! Physics involves living and non living things! Physics is intriguing and challenging! Physics is fundamental!

Course Content

The Physics course also involves a lot of theory which is tested in the written examination. Students are expected to be able to use various formulae with respect to SI units and significant figures, and have a good understanding of the role of physics in modern society and technology. The Leaving Certificate course covers the following core topics: Mechanics: Study of forces, energy and motion (7 mandatory experiments) Temperature & Heat: Study of heat, heat quantities, heat transfer, temperature and thermometers (4 mandatory experiments) Waves: Study of waves and wave phenomena Vibrations & Sound: Study of wave nature of sound, vibrations in strings and pipes, characteristics of notes (3 mandatory experiments) Light: Study of mirrors, lenses, reflection, refraction and the wave nature of light (5 mandatory experiments) Electricity: Study of static electricity, electric fields, capacitance, electric current and electromagnetism (5 mandatory experiments) Modern Physics: Study of electrons and their properties: the nucleus, radioactivity and nuclear energy. In addition to the core material there are two options offered. Option 1: Particle Physics Option 2: Applied Electricity At Higher Level, there is a deeper, more quantitative treatment of physics. The two option sections are omitted from the Ordinary Level Leaving Certificate course. The course also consists of 24 core mandatory experiments complementing each section in an aim to develop students’ technical skills and enhance understanding and reinforce key concepts. Leaving Certificate Physics is a very interesting and challenging subject. The Physics syllabus does not require higher level mathematics. However formula and mathematical problems occur in most topics. Students studying Physics should enjoy mathematical calculations, and memorization of key formula and equations is essential. Practical work is an integral part of the Physics course; students must carry out the mandatory experiments and keep detailed accounts of procedures, calculations and analysis of results. This practical work will be assessed in the written exam paper. The syllabus places particular emphasis on Science, Technology and Society so that students may relate the various laws and principles to everyday life.

Exam Structure

Total time for paper = 3 hours

Total marks for paper = 400 marks

The LC Physics paper is divided into 2 sections.

Section A: Mandatory Experiments Questions

Four Questions are presented.

You answer any three. Each question carries 40 marks.

3 questions x (40 marks each) = 120 marks

Time recommendation: 54 minutes

Section B: Long Questions

Eight questions presented.

You answer any five. Each question carries 56 marks.

5 questions x (56 marks) = 280 marks

Time recommendation: 110 minutes

Career Possibilities

Physics is a useful subject for many courses and career areas and a good foundation for a broad range of scientific and technical careers in particular. Many careers benefit from the logical and numeracy skills developed in the study of physics. Many technical courses involve components of physics. Industries employing physicists are varied and include: aerospace and defence computing education energy and renewable energy engineering health and medicine instrumentation manufacturing meteorology and climate change nanotechnology oil and gas science and telecommunications the environment technology

http://www.iopireland.org/education/resources/what/file_49917.pdf

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