The Department of Science in Sandford Park School is dynamic and forward-thinking. The modern student needs to understand the world scientifically, and the focus of the department is to equip the students with the necessary information and analytical abilities to make them responsible scientific citizens. Active learning and active engagement are vital to fostering an interest in, and enthusiasm for, this most important subject.
The Junior Science programme is very ‘hands on’. We have spacious laboratories and enough equipment to allow all students to participate in experiments. Students find it much easier to learn things about science they have actually experienced. All Junior Cycle Science students participate in ecology field work, with students being taught in small groups. Form I students study the rocky shore and Form II study a woodland. These trips also include a fun element as the students are able to go sailing.
Classroom Based Assessments are an important part of the Junior Cycle programme. The CBA for Form III is a Science in Society Investigation where they must investigate a scientific topic or issue and its impact (positive or negative) on society, human health, or the environment. To prepare them for this, we do a lot of work on how to identify reliable sources, and they do a number of practice research projects.
The CBA for Form II is an Extended Experimental Investigation where they must conduct and write up experiments on a topic chosen from a prescribed list. To prepare them for this, we do regular experiments in class. Also, all Form I students carry out an investigation in small groups for the Sandford Science Fair competition. This consists of a science project based on their own research and experimentation. These projects are presented on a special day in school where we get external scientists in to judge the projects and offer students feedback on their work. The winners of this then go on to compete against other schools in a regional SciFest competition which is usually held in May in TU Dublin, Tallaght campus. Participation in competitions like these helps students to develop an interest in, and enthusiasm for, science. It allows them to learn and develop skill sets while pursuing an aspect of the subject in which they have a particular interest.
BT Young Scientist Exhibition, RDS
The BT Young Scientist Exhibition is held in RDS every year at the start of January. Students are encouraged to enter this competition and even with very tough competition Sandford Park School has sent numerous projects to participate. Competitors get to display their projects in the RDS, with numerous prize-winners being chosen from among their number, but all participants have a super experience!
We also always bring all Form I and Form II students to view the exhibition. This allows them to see all the fabulous work that other teenagers are doing in science and technology, and may even give them inspiration for a project that they might want to enter the next year.
Science club is primarily aimed at Form I students, but it is open to all Junior students with a particular interest in scientific ideas. They meet once a week to carry out experiments which are beyond the scope of the Junior syllabus including research and experiments on topics including astronomy, the human body, fireworks, forensics, and forces. Students are also encouraged to come up with their own ideas that the whole group can try.
Transition Year Science
In the first half of the year, the students follow a course in Scientific Problem Solving. They develop and practise their skills in scientific thinking, learn how to think logically, discuss the ethical aspects of science in the modern world, and investigate some of the cutting-edge discoveries and inventions that scientists are working on now.
After this, students carry out an in-depth science project based on their own research and experimentation for the Sandford Science Fair Competition. These projects are presented on a special day in school where we get external scientists in to judge the projects and offer students feedback on their work. The winners of this then go on to compete against other schools in a regional SciFest competition which is usually held in May in TU Dublin, Tallaght campus.
At the end of the year, they follow modules in Physics, Chemistry or Biology, which enable them to make informed choices about their options for Leaving Certificate.
Students study light, heat, sound, electricity, mechanics and gravity, with an emphasis on practical work. Topics such as X-rays, lasers, nuclear physics and the investigation of sub atomic particles are also included.
Students get an excellent grounding in the basics of atomic structure, bonding, rates of reaction, catalysis, environmental chemistry, and organic chemistry which are so fundamental to the study of all science. The course has a large practical aspect to it and there are many experiments for the students to do.
We also offer a trip to Form V and VI Science students to visit CERN in Geneva’s European Organization for Nuclear Research and the world’s largest particle physics laboratory. The trip involves a tour of CERN by the scientists who work there, a visit to the history of Science Museum, a tour of the UN building, bowling, shopping, and a rather competitive table quiz. Previous trips have been great successes.
Students follow a syllabus which covers a great variety of topics including food, ecology, enzymes, photosynthesis, respiration, genetics, evolution, microbiology, and plant structure and function. There is also an emphasis on human biology where students learn about the human body and topics such as diabetes, asthma, IVF, osteoporosis, etc. The course has a large practical aspect to it and the students do many experiments, including extraction of DNA and an intensive ecology field trip.