The Education Centre has developed a number of programmes specially designed with the Junior Certificate Geography and Science curriculum in mind. The programmes aim to bring the knowledge the students have learned in the classroom out into the field. Each study, including lunch and preparations, can take up to four and a half hours, therefore teachers are asked to allocate adequate time for their visit to Glendalough. Each study also has its own handout, and teachers are asked to go through the handout with students before arrival in Glendalough. Students receive a brief presentation on the Wicklow Mountains National Park before departing for the fieldwork. The following are brief descriptions of the studies currently available:
Junior Cert. Geography
General Geography Worksheet (2.5 – 3 Hrs)
A worksheet has been created which covers a number of topics that are part of the curriculum. These topics include map reading, geological identification, glacial feature identification, river feature identification, tourism and national park management. Like all the programmes offered, this study aims to give the students a first hand experience of some of the topics they have studied in class.
Man in the Valley (3.5 Hrs)
This study focuses on the area of Social Geography in the curriculum. It incorporates a 6 km hike around the valley, stopping at certain vantage points to view the influence man has had on the area. The study has a specially designed worksheet, and topics covered include tourism, early Christian sites, settlement, planted woodlands and forestry, mining, farming, hydroelectric power, recreation and the national park. The study aims to give students a greater understanding of the effect man has had on his environment, and whether these effects are having positive or negative results.
Junior Cert. Science
Oak Woodland Ecology (2.5 – 3 Hrs)
This study aims to introduce students to the methods, measurements, observations and results used in everyday fieldwork ecology. Before the study begins, the students are introduced to the different habitats that are found in the Wicklow Mountains National Park, they are asked to look for evidence of wildlife presence in each area, and identify some of the plants that are present. The Oak woodland study gives students the opportunity to use methods in the field that they have previously learned about in class, such as quadrats, line transects, beating trays and pooters. Students also learn how to measure some of the factors which affect the habitat such as the measurement of soil pH. They learn to identify plants and invertebrates using keys and perform a quantitative survey of the vegetation using the DAFOR scale. Using the animals and plants that they have recorded in their habitat, the students create their own food chains. The study ends with an open discussion on the problems that may face Oak woodlands at present and the importance of the conservation of our natural habitats for the future.