LC Engineering: Rollercoaster safety questions very topical
Questions about rollercoasters on the Leaving Certificate Engineering Higher Level paper could hardly have been any more topical.
State examiners could not have foreseen this week's events in the Alton Towers amusement park in England, which left a number of people seriously injured after a rollercoaster crashed.
If the accident started keen engineering students to think about the issue, Q5 (c) would have been an obvious choice for them to tackle. Candidates were asked to explain the importance of a number of features of a Robocoaster, and to outline two reasons why programmable robots are used in the ongoing development of compact mechanised thrill machines for amusements parks.
There were also a couple of short questions relating to rollercoaster seat safety.
The focus on rollercoasters in the written paper linked to the technology project - where students made a model theme park thrill ride - that formed part of their practical exam.
In fact, because of the practical, candidates sitting the written exam yesterday already had 50pc of the marks out of the way.
Teacher Kenny Donagher of Summerhill College, Sligo, and the Association of Secondary Teachers' Ireland (Asti), welcomed the link to the project work in the written paper.
Mr Donagher's verdict on the paper was that it was "engaging, but challenging, and required a broad knowledge of course material". He said it was well laid-out with engaging graphics.
The student research topic question related to "fuel injection systems" and, according to Mr Donagher, it required detailed knowledge of the prescribed topic.
He described the ordinary level as "fair and clearly laid-out with questions suitable for the candidates taking this course at this level". Only about 5,500 of the almost 60,000 Leaving Certificate candidates took engineering, and only 327 of them were girls.
Mr Donagher said there was a need for more girls' schools to offer the subject.