Some challenges and surprises – The Irish Times


The higher-level physics paper was fair, but posed a suitable challenge to stronger students, teachers have said.

Pat Doyle, a physics teacher at the Institute of Education in Dublin, said that it was designed to separate out the H1 and H2 students.

“Despite the extra choice on the paper, some questions contained a mixture of topics, which might have limited students who had not covered the entire syllabus in their revision,” Mr Doyle said.

“Questions 5, 11, 13 and 14b all contained a mixture of topics. If students had not covered the entire course, they could have found themselves seriously limited for choice.”

John Conneely, ASTI physics representative and teacher at St Flannan’s College, Ennis, Co. Clare, said that it was a very fair paper.

“Students were given a very nice start with the Section A experimental questions. The questions were very much in line with the present clear and concise Leaving Cert physics syllabus, with a good choice of questions,” Mr Conneely said.

“Question 11 presented an excellent example of how physics can cross over into other disciplines, in this case archaeology.

“Students were asked to apply their higher order thinking skills to a bronze age, fulacht fiadh, a method whereby a large container of water was heated using hot stones, taken from a fire, the stones heated to 280C, before being placed into the water .”

Tom Dixon, TUI physics representative and a teacher at Maynooth Post-Primary School, said that some students may have been thrown by the wording on questions two and five, while the mechanics questions would have been tricky for some.

On the ordinary level paper, Mr Dixon said that the long questions featured almost every topic on the course, providing students with good choice.

“It allowed students to pick what they are confident with,” he said. “A graph question was nice for students who could tackle it but, if not, there was enough choice that they could stay away. Most would have been happy with the question on heat and light.”

Try this one at home:

Leaving Cert physics, higher level

The Bronze Age began about 5000 years ago. Archaeologists use physics to help them understand the culture and technology of the Bronze Age.

During the Bronze Age in Ireland, a fulacht fiadh was used to heat water, perhaps to cook food. It contained an open pit which was filled with water. Stones were heated in a fire and the hot stones were placed into the water. A particular fulacht fiadh contained 750 litres of water at an initial temperature of 4 °C. 50 stones were taken from the fire, at a temperature of 280 °C, and placed into the water. The stones had an average heat capacity of 8.5 kJ K — 1 each.

(i) What is meant by (a) heat capacity, (b) specific heat capacity?

(ii) Calculate the highest temperature the water could have reached.

(iii) Suggest a way of improving the design of the fulacht fiadh to make it more efficient.

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