Biology is the study of life, in all its weird and wonderful forms, and all of life’s essential processes. The subject incorporates zoology (the study of animals), botany (the study of plants), microbiology (the study of micro-organisms), genetics (the study of inheritance and variation among living organisms), ecology (the study of how living organisms interact with one another and with their environment) and biochemistry (the study of chemical processes that take place in living organisms).

In St. Joseph of Cluny Secondary School, Biology is sampled by all students in modular format during Transition Year, and is taught as an option subject in Fifth and Sixth Year in preparation for Leaving Certificate. There are typically three Biology classes in each Senior Cycle year. The approach to teaching this diverse and fascinating subject is very much investigative.

The Biology teaching team use a variety of I.T. based methods to bring the subject alive in the classroom including slideshow presentations, animations and interactive computer simulations. A number of other audio-visual resources are incorporated into Biology classes, including models, demonstration exercises and DVD excerpts. With Killiney Hill right on our doorstep and Sandycove or Dalkey beaches within easy walking distance, students are able to conduct a number of outdoor fieldwork activities to investigate the ecology of local woodland or seashore ecosystems. The Transition Year programme involves a trip to Dublin Zoo for an Animal Conservation and Extinction module.

Visits from external speakers and demonstrators are organised for the various Senior Cycle years to introduce students to real world uses and applications of Biological science, including a full-day workshop for Transition Year students on Forensics. The school’s well-equipped Biology laboratory allows students to carry out a wide variety of prescribed and non-prescribed practical activities including dissections, growing moulds and bacteria, working with antibiotics, isolating DNA (including their own), fermenting sugars to produce alcohol, examining very tiny cells under the microscope and using hormones to speed up the growth of plant seeds. Students are required to maintain a laboratory notebook in which they record all of the mandatory practical activities prescribed for the Leaving Certificate programme. These notebooks are assessed on an ongoing basis throughout the Senior Cycle.