THE MUCH-anticipated report from the seven university presidents on the Leaving Cert/points system is a highly significant document which could over time herald substantial change. The report – requested by Minister for Education and Skills Ruairí Quinn – has much merit. In making the case for more common entry routes to college, it openly acknowledges how the current system has contributed to the points race.
It is scathing about existing arrangements which do not promote positive education values or personal development. Having examined the system in detail, the seven presidents conclude that the selection process for higher education is having “disproportionate and undesirable effects on student learning . . . at second level.’’
That said, they acknowledge there is no panacea and “no perfect system’’. This makes sense. The two most recent innovations in the CAO system – bonus points for maths and the Hpat process for medicine – have had unintended consequences. Bonus maths has distorted the points system while the Hpat exam is seen as being much more “predictable” than envisaged. These serve as a reminder of how the task ahead in recasting the entire Leaving Cert-CAO system is a formidable one. The paper presents a broad range of policy options for discussion; the plan is that a taskforce will tease out these proposals and report back before the end of the year.
Many of the proposals are sensible and pragmatic. It makes sense to incentivise strategically important subjects. The success of the bonus system for higher-level maths in boosting student interest to record levels shows how “social engineering” of this kind can reverse well-established trends. Is there a case for similar incentives for key subjects like physics and chemistry which currently attract only about one in six Leaving Certs at higher level?
Read the full article on The Irish Times
Dr. Fearghus O’Foghludha had a long career focusing on radiation in the field of physics and his work included stints at NASA, the Oak Ridge nuclear facilities, Duke University, East Carolina University, the Atomic Energy Commission, CERN, and other well known institutions.
Emigrating from Dublin, Ireland, the professor moved to the United States in 1963 with his family and later became a US citizen. He attended the University College Dublin in 1944 and later received several degrees including his PhD. in experimental physics from the National University of Ireland and later did studies at the University of Uppsala and University of Lund, both in Sweden.
Dr. O’Foghludha taught as a professor and eventually became chairman of radiation physics at the Medical College of Virginia from 1963 to 1970. He then taught radiation physics at Duke University from 1970 until his retirement in 1992, serving also as the director of the radiation physics division. He later taught at East Carolina University and remained active in his later years, even filing patents as late as September of 2011.
Full story on Rayleigh Telegram
Science Ireland took a stand at the Dublin Mini Maker Faire, which is a faire that bring together creative hobbists that show their work to the public. We created electronic components made from Tic Tac (TM) boxes and the first ever LED roller coasted using an arduino.
We had a great day launching rockets at the Ballina Salmon Festival on 10th July. Part of the family fun day, Science Ireland performed three rocket workshops and were completely full. Great day had by all.
Science Ireland is celebrating its 10th year travelling to schools with our interactive science shows. Our 10 year celebration was held in GMIT Castlebar on 27th May with local national schools. In September we launched Maths Academy, the aim of which is to teach maths through practical applications to students working in small groups, Maths Academy will run again during March/April 2012 in Mayo.
In Sept, Anthony Caldwell of Science Ireland completed his MPhil in Information Systems in Queens University Belfast on students attitudes to online education based on our website physics.ie. In the same month, we published an article in Physics Education, an Institute of Physics peer-reviewed journal, on a simple method of reproducing Joule’s experiment on heat.
For science week we developed “Battleship Maths” as part of the RDS Science Live lecture series, which showed students the practical application of maths by launching projectiles to hit a target. Also during science week, we created our new Science Fair show for national schools, the Science Fair gets everyone in the schools involved in science for the day.
In Dec 2011, we tested our Physics Problem Solving Workshop, which is a half day transition year module to explore students abilities to work on physics problems and to encourage the uptake in Leaving Certificate physics.
Looking forward to 2012, we hope to continue publishing articles as well as online content to help teachers and students with STEM subjects. We will complete the Physics Problem Solving Workshop and offer it to schools who need to keep the numbers doing physics up. According to the Institute of Physics, in 2011, only 11% of students took Leaving Certificate physics and 25% of schools do not offer physics as a choice. This is a worrying trend but we are confident that with our new method of teaching physics this trend can be reversed.
Happy New Year and we are all looking forward to 2012, where Dublin will host the City of Science festival, which will bring educators and researchers from around the world to Dublin.
Science Week is here and we at Science Ireland are booked out with shows all over the country. We start on Sunday at the Sligo Science Festival. Then onto the RDS for the first showing of our new show “Battleship Maths”. On Tuesday, we are launching Rockets in Limerick and Wednesday we are running a science competition for the Mayo Science festival. Thursday is an exciting day of shows in the Museum of Country Life in Castlebar and Friday is a full day of science experiments in Holy Family National School in Newport, Co. Mayo.
We wish everyone a great Science Week and encourage all ages to get out to these great science events.
Science Ireland’s new maths game “Battleship Maths” got its first test with 100 third years in a school in Sligo. The two shows were a great success and the feedback for the students was constructive and honest.
Battleship Maths is a game where students will use trigonometry, co-ordinate geometry and physics to destroy the opponents ships. Battleship Maths has been accepted for the RDS Science Live Lecture Series and will be launched for Science Week 2011.
There will be two fleets of battleships, the science fleet and maths fleet. The names of the battleships will be named after famous scientists and mathematicians e.g. LE Boyle, LE Hamilton. The battleships will work together to destroy the other fleet.
The room will be laid out in two grids with a low screen between the grids. The battleships will be represented by a large bucket that will serve as a target, it needs to be deep to stop the ping pong balls bouncing out. Each battleship team will have a launcher and two theodolites (to measure angles). Students will not be able to see the opponent battleships directly but there will be a tall flag in each battleship which teams can use to measure angles.
Students will work in teams of six, two will deal with the launcher, one angle and one force, two will measure distance to target by measuring angles and using maths to determine distance. The other team members will decide strategy such as the speed/direction of the battleship and talking to the fleet.
The students will build a projectile launcher and then calibrate it to determine the launch speed of the projectile in this case a ping pong ball. The launcher will use a simple elastic band launch system. Once the students have built and calibrated their launcher they must find the best angle and speed to hit a target area.
The second part is to understand how to determine the distance to the target. This is accomplished by two team members one standing at the location of the battleship and one standing at the edge of the grid. They can measure the distance between them off the grid and then they both measure the angle between them and the opponent flag. Once the two angles and the distance between them are found the distance to target can be calculated by using trigonometry.
The game will have several rounds and the game will end if one fleet is destroyed or the time runs out, in this case the fleet with the most intact battleships will win.
Did you know that there are 25 extra points to be gained by doing higher level maths in the leaving cert in 2012?
Castlebar’s Maths Academy has been set up to help students, to excel at maths in both pass and higher level. The Academy does not take the form of grinds but instead is an accessible and enjoyable way of learning maths which involves problem solving and interaction with other students.
The Academy is run by Declan Holmes of Science Ireland who has over 15 years of experience of supporting Leaving Certificate students in both maths and science. The course covers the new “Project Maths” syllabus as well as focusing on Leaving Certificate questions.
This method has proven very popular with students at both pass and honours level as it builds their confidence over time by focusing on specific issues that students find difficult and working through these at their pace. The students work together in small groups, which aids learning and most importantly gives the students a repeatable method for problem solving which they can use in their exams.
The Academy will also present “Learn the Application of Maths” nights which will help students understand how maths relates to their everyday world.
The Maths Academy meets each Wednesday from 4.45 – 7pm in the Celtic Football Ground Clubhouse Meeting Room beside the Castlebar County Library and the first session is free. For more information call 087 9176292.