Science Department


The aims of St. Mary's College Science Department are as follows:
  1. To value every child as an individual whose learning needs we must meet.
  2. To provide a Science Education which will contribute to the overall development of the pupil.
  3. To make Science relevant to the needs of the pupil in everyday life, so that the pupil can use scientific skills, and be able to debate logically and in an informed manner on scientific and technological issues,
  4. To ensure that:
    • All pupils are prepared for appropriate external exams.
    • We provide a good framework for subsequent study and/or career development.
  5. To promote better links and raise achievement:
    • With other departments
    • With other secondary schools
    • With primary schools
    • With the home
    • With the community
    • With industry partners
    • With Further / Higher education.
  6. To provide a balanced curriculum for all pupils in terms of:
    • The Environment
    • Biology, Physics, Chemistry and the Earth Sciences.
    • The School Curriculum, within the full range of teaching strategies
    • Cross-curricular skills and capabilities
    • Study skills
  7. To promote a Catholic ethos through the teaching of :
    • Science
    • I.T.
    • Numeracy
    • Literacy
    • Careers
Click here to view our Assessment Policy.  


Teaching Staff

  • Mr. M. Logue (Physics Teacher, Head of Science Department, Coordinator of Greenhouse Club, Regional Coordinator of SciFest Ireland)
  • Ms. A. Blanking M.B.E (Chemistry Teacher, Coordinator of Key Stage 3 Science, Chemistry Club Coordinator)
  • Ms. P. Molloy (Biology Teacher, Coordinator Key Stage 4 Science and Leader of Well-being)
  • Mrs R. O'Donnell (Physics Teacher, Head of Sixth Form)
  • Mrs C. Harkin (Biology Teacher, Leader of International Award)
  • Mr D. Goddard (Chemistry Teacher, Head of Year 9)
  • Mrs A. Lynch (Chemistry Teacher, Coordinator of Games Club)
  • Dr. K. Conaghan (Biology Teacher, Coordinator of Eco-club)

Technical Staff

  • Mr. Gerard Curran (Science Technician, Coordinator of Greenhouse Club)

Volunteer Staff

  • Mr. Barry McLaughlin (Coordinator of Greenhouse Club, Woodland Trust Award Coordinator)


The Contribution of Science to Other Curricular Areas The Science Curriculum includes, at appropriate stages and in a form suited to their ability, knowledge and skills from the following areas of experience: 1. The communicative – the ability to communicate effectively (especially, through not exclusively, in speech and writing) and to understand appreciate and critically evaluate what is communicated by others. 2. The mathematical – a precise and logical set of languages constituting an intellectual activity in its own right, but also important both in everyday life and as a tool in Science, Technology, Economics etc. 3. The aesthetic and creative – involving both practice and appreciation in Music, Drama, Literature and a variety of Art and Craft media. 4. The scientific – understanding the natural world and become in the processes by which that understanding is achieved and developed. 5. The Physical – learning to use the body skillfully and to take good care of it. 6. The technological – appreciating and practicing the integration of concepts and skill from science, craft, aesthetics and economics through which man shaped the world in order more effectively to meet his needs. 7. The environmental – understanding the complex interdependencies in the local, national and global environment; developing an awareness of the impact of man’s technology on that environment and of the consequent need to protect the environment and manage scarce resources responsibly. 8. The social/political/economic – recognizing the interdependence of individuals and society; understanding how social, political and economic institutions function and change and how individuals both develop and operate within these institutions. 9. The ethical and spiritual – enabling young people to develop a coherent set of attitudes, values and beliefs which, in a pluralist and multi-racial society, should include the capacity to understand, respect and tolerate races, beliefs, world-views and the ways of life other than one’s own. 10. The inter-personal – the ability to relate appropriately to and interact effectively with other people in a wide variety of different situations. 11. The historical – an appreciation of how the human race itself, particular ‘races’ and nation – states, and all human activities and institutions have evolved through time. 12. The philosophical – explicit understanding of the distinctive features of different areas of knowledge and experience and of the contribution they make, separately and together, to our understanding of practical activity the natural and social world.


Key Stage 3 Science Curriculum At Key Stage 3 pupils in Years 8, 9 and 10 study science 4 lessons per week. The science department delivers the N. Ireland Revised Curriculum through co-operative learning activities, practical experimental work and theory based learning taking account of the individual learning needs and styles of every pupil. Topics studied include the Human Body, Chemical Reactions, Earth and Space, Materials and their Uses, the Periodic Table, Energy, Light and Sound and Forces and Electricity.


Myself 1. Introducing Science 2. Sight and Sound 3. Growing Up My Home 4. Acids and Alkalis My Home 5. Earth & Space My Environment 6. Plants Numeracy in Science


Myself 1. Staying Alive 2. Forces 3. Matter 4. Magnetism & Electricity The Environment 5. My Environment My World 6. Elements, Mixtures & Compounds Numeracy in Science


Myself 1. Cells & Variation My Home 2. Force & Movement 3. Materials My Environment 4. Chemical Reactions My World 5. The Atom 6. Materials Numeracy in Science Careers in Science


Key Stage 4 Science Curriculum All pupils at St.Mary's College study science at Key Stage 4. We have a variety of pathways to suit the learning needs of all pupils and to ensure that every pupil can experience success and achieve external qualifications in science. Over the past 10 years, over 90% of all pupils have achieved external qualifications (GCSE or Level 2 BTEC) at grade C or above in science and between 1/3 and 1/2 of all pupils opt to continue their study of science in sixth form. In 2019 100% of pupils achieved at least a grade CC in GCSE Science - 11% above the Northern Ireland average. Approximately 40% of pupils achieved at least B grade in GCSE science. Below is a brief outline of the different pathways available to St. Mary's College pupils: CCEA GCSE Triple Award Science (i.e. GCSE Biology; GCSE Chemistry & GCSE Physics) Pupils can study all three sciences at GCSE with the aim of achieving three separate GCSE qualifications - GCSE Biology, GCSE Chemistry and GCSE Physics. Pupils who follow this pathway are normally very proficient at science and are aiming to follow a career in a STEM area. This pathway allows pupils to maintain the option of studying all courses at University including Medicine, Veterinary, Dentistry, Pharmacy etc. Pupils who opt for this pathway do so under the guidance of their science teacher and in consultation with the Head of Department. These pupils must relinquish one of their optional subjects at GCSE level as the third GCSE in science represents one optional subject on the Key Stage 4 timetable. CCEA GCSE Double Award Science Normally between 40 and 70 pupils in any year group follow the CCEA Double Award science course. This is assessed through external examinations in Year 11 and in Year 12 and pupils who are successful achieve two GCSEs in Science. Over the past 5 years over 90% of all pupils have achieved grade C or above and in several years all pupils achieved at least a grade C with many achieving grades A*-B. This pathway allows pupils to continue their study of science post-16 and onto university to study a wide variety of courses. Edexcel Level 2 NQF BTEC First Awards in Science Between 60 and 80 pupils in Year 11 follow this pathway. This allows pupils to complete the First Award in Principles of Applied Science in Year 11 (equivalent to 1 GCSE) and then continue by completing the First Award In Application of Science in Year 12 (equivalent to a second GCSE). A small number of pupils, usually around 8-10, only do the Principles of Applied Science over the two years of KS4. Below is an outline of the units completed in each separate qualification: Edexcel Level 2 NQF BTEC First Award  in Principles of Applied Science
  • Unit 1: Principles of Science (Examined Unit)
  • Unit 2: Chemistry and our Earth
  • Unit 3: Energy and Our Universe
  • Unit 4: Biology and our environment
Edexcel Level 2 NQF BTEC First Award in Application of Science 
  • Unit 5: Applications of Chemical Substances
  • Unit 6: Applications of Physical Science
  • Unit 7: Health Applications of Life Science
  • Unit 8: Scientific Skills (Examined Unit)

Post 16

Post 16 Science Curriculum Again St. Mary's College Science Department offers a variety of pathways for pupils to follow in sixth form. These include A-level Life & Health Science; Level 3 BTEC Subsidiary Diploma in Applied Science and A-level Physics. These course are all offered within our own science department. In addition pupils may avail of the opportunity to study A-level Chemistry and A-level Biology through the Foyle Learning Community while remaining a pupil of St. Mary's College. CCEA A-level Life & Health Science This course offers pupils the opportunity to achieve a Double Award A-level qualification in science (i.e. 2 A-levels). This course enables pupils to continue their study of a science related course at university and applicants from St. Mary's have a 100% success rate in being accepted to university courses. The course includes units across all three scientific disciplines covering topics such as Medical Physics, Light and Sound, Laboratory Techniques, Brain Science, Energy Transfer Systems, Oral health & Dentistry, Modern Technology etc. Between 90-100% of pupils typically achieve double grade C or above. CCEA A-level Physics This course is being offered for the first time at St.Mary's College in the academic year 2020-2021 and approximately 12 pupils have opted to follow this pathway. This course offers an additional pathway for our most gifted and talented pupils - pupils who are highly proficient in science and have a love of the subject. This is a very demanding course and is mainly for pupils who might like to pursue a career in a Physics or Engineering related field. It is assessed by external examination and by assessment of practical skills in Physics. Edexcel Level 3 BTEC Applied Science Between 20 and 40 of our Lower Sixth pupils opt to follow this pathway. This is an excellent course equivalent to 1 A-level. It is widely accepted by universities as an alternative to traditional A-level choices and offers a more vocational pathway which many employers now prefer. Indeed the course was designed in response to employers' requests and is an excellent mixture of theory and practical science skills. Areas covered include...
  • Working in a science based organisation
  • Practical Laboratory Techniques
  • Medical Physics
  • Fundamentals of Science
  • Perceptions of Science
  • Chemical Laboratory Techniques

Click here for the A2 Sound and Light Booklet

Click here for the A2 Medical Booklet

Examination Performance

Science Department Examination Success   In recent years the science department has enjoyed huge pupil success in examinations. All of our sixth year students studying Life & Health Science  gained places in university to study a variety of science related courses including Forensic science, Bio-medical Science and Nursing. There was a 100% pass rate in St. Mary’s in this subject again in 2019 with all pupils achieving at least CC. This is 10% above the Northern Ireland average. It is typical for at least 90% of pupils to achieve at least CC every year and 100% to pass the course (achieve at least EE). At Key Stage 4 pupils also achieve considerable success with 100% of pupils achieving CC or above in GCSE science in 2019. This figure is 11% above the Northern Ireland average. Of the pupils studying BTEC First Extended Certificate in Applied Science last year more than 90% achieved 2 GCSEs in Science at Grade C or above. We look forward to more success in the year ahead.

Extra Curricular

 Science outside the classroom In recent years the Science Department enjoyed huge pupil success in many extra-curricular activities.  More pupils than ever took advantage of the wide range of after school Science clubs and all could be found working very hard on a variety of projects or competition entries throughout the year. Pupils from these groups have represented St. Mary’s at the Sentinus Northern Ireland Young Innovators Competition, BT Young Scientist Competition, the Finals of the BA Big Bang Competition,  North-West Scifest and the Salter’s Chemistry Fair and of course our very own internal science fair and the North-West SciFest which is hosted by St. Mary's College Science Department. We have several clubs coordinated from within the science department including...
  • Chemistry Club
  • Eco Club
  • Greenhouse/Gardening Club
  • Games Club
  • Woodland Trust Award
  • International Award
  Whilst recent successes are too numerous to list all of them, here are some highlights...
  • In January 2021 St. Mary's College was named the Best Northern Ireland School at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition in Dublin. This is the second time the school has achieved this accolade.
  • Maeve Stillman winning the coveted title of 'UK Young Scientist of the Year' in 2019. Beating opposition from all of England, Wales, Scotland and N. Ireland Maeve won the overall title of UK Young Scientist of the Year - an enormous accolade. Maeve's prize was multi-faceted and included all expenses paid trips to the USA and to Hungary to represent the UK in the Intel World Science Fair and the European Science fair, an all expenses paid trip back to the UK Young Scientist competition the year after winning as a VIP guest and to hand the trophy to her successor, being interviewed live on 'This Morning' on UK national television to explain her winning project, science show days for the school, VIP tour of the facilities at Seagate. Maeve's success will hopefully also open doors for her as previous winners have even had university offers on the back of their success. We are immensely proud of Maeve who is a delightful young lady with huge promise.
  • Ava Canney being chosen as one of only three young women in the world (and the only one outside of the U.S.A) to feature in a video made by games manufacturer Hasbro to promote their new version of Monopoloy to celebrate the role of women scientists in human progress. Their game 'Ms. Monolpoly' has been manufactured and distributed world-wide and our Ava featured prominently in the promotion of the game. In addition Ava received £20,000 to continue her work. Ava has, of course, also won many awards at various science competitions such as the BT Young Scientist, NI Young Innovators etc.
  • Maeve Stillman winning the title of N.Ireland Young Scientist in 2017. This is the fourth time pupils from St.Mary's College have won this award.
  • Our Year 8 pupils winning the coveted Salter's Chemistry Festival Award for the second time in a row in 2019.
  • Pupils from St.Mary's College winning the N.Ireland Big Video Challenge winning all expenses paid trips to Google Headquarters in Dublin and to the Large Hadron Collider in CERN Geneva, the pre-eminent Nuclear research facility in the world. A few months later we were fortunate to host one of CERN's leading engineers who spoke to our pupils about CERN and the employment opportunities for young people.
  • Astronaut Steven Bowen visiting the school to speak of his experiences in Space.
  • Internal Science Fairs for all pupils in years 8 and 9
  • Hosting the annual North West SciFest and the Seagate Real World Science Conferences
  • St. Mary's College being named as best N.Ireland School at the BT Young Scientist competition.