A picture of three leaving cert students performing an experiment in UL
Jo Eu Lim, Jakub Marcinkowski and Rushil Ramesh from Coláiste Mhichíl CBS Sexton Street in Limerick running experiments on Photosynthesis.
Wednesday, 10 January 2024

University of Limerick is hosting hundreds of Leaving Certificate Biology students this week, giving them a hands-on learning experience within its cutting-edge laboratories.

Almost 400 students from various second-level schools across Limerick, Tipperary, Clare, Galway, and Roscommon are taking part in laboratory experiments aligned with the Leaving Cert Biology curriculum at UL.

During their visit, the students take part in 18 essential practicals, including activities like dissecting a sheep’s heart, DNA extraction and food and plant-based experiments among others.

Raychel Kelly, PE, Science and Biology teacher at Seamount College in Kinvara, Co. Galway, said: “It’s a great experience for them to get out and experience a real-life laboratory; a lot of our students are interested in pursuing science as they go further into their third-level education so it's great for them to come and have this practical day where they can explore what the university has to offer.”

Donna O’Rourke, a Biology teacher in Ardscoil Mhuire in Limerick, said that the practicals were an “excellent revision opportunity” for her students for their mock examinations in February.

“It gives an insight into working in a modern laboratory for those interested in science courses. They get the chance to interact with UL students and discuss their work with them,” she added.

The Leaving Certificate Biology Practical Sessions have been taking place at UL for over a decade. Edel Durack, Chief Technical Officer in UL’s Department of Biological Sciences, explained: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the students to practice their lab skills before sitting their Leaving Certificate in June 2024.

“In addition to this, students get a sneak-peek as to what being a student in UL looks like and gets to experience a third level laboratory setting before sitting their exams. The feedback from students is always very positive.”

“Not all schools have the facilities to carry out all the practical components of the curriculum in their respective schools, so our revision course offers them the opportunity to practise all experiments in one day.

“Our state-of-the-art laboratories are ideal for teaching large numbers and these revision courses, which run all this week and are so popular that places filled up this year within 24 hours.”

The Department’s technical team, postgraduate students and teaching assistants are actively involved, guiding and supporting the students throughout the week as they conduct various experiments.

Additionally, the visiting biology students receive insights into UL programmes offered by the Biological Sciences Department and the Faculty of Science and Engineering.