In Ireland, there are two main state exams that you take during your secondary school years. The Junior Certificate comes first and is a 3-year cycle that you complete at around 14-15 years of age. You then complete the Leaving Certificate, which takes 2 years. Students also have an option to spend one additional year in between these two cycles, exploring a range of different social and personal development activities and experiences. This is called Transition Year, or just TY.
Some of the highlights of a normal TY would include going on work experience, doing some community service, taking a trip abroad and generally spending a lot of time outside the classroom. However, our year was very different due to Covid-19 and we were unable to do any of these.
That is not to say we did nothing (far from it) and as we are about to finish TY soon, I decided to take a look back at what I achieved over this very different year. I’ve separated the various items into categories to make them easier to read.
I did a number of projects that involved using various kinds of technology, which were:
- I produced Digital Mosaic Posters for my current and former schools, which involved taking headshots of all pupils and teachers and using a computer program to create a mosaic image of the school crest, then mounting this in a frame.
- I started my own blog in 2020 (using the popular WordPress blogging software) and decided to write one new article each month during Transition Year. In fact, the one you’re reading now is the final one in this series!
- My friends and I submitted an idea to the BT Young Scientist Award, which was a project that would explore the effects of wearing face masks in school.
- I recorded a Podcast, which was a fake interview with a celebrity. I chose to interview Tom Holland and asked him different questions on a range of topics.
- I created an online computer game using Scratch, based on the Apex Legends video game.
- We learned how to use Solidworks, a popular Computer Aided Design (CAD) software package, and created a basic LEGO Car and small Park Bench.
Music & Art
I also did some projects (personal and school-based) with a musical and artist theme, including:
- I was invited (by a former primary school teacher) to compose the soundtrack for an Irish language short film they were producing, which I did with my Dad. In total, we wrote, arranged and recorded 7 tracks, including adding sound effects using Audacity.
- I completed a week-long, creative song writing course with Music Generation, Waterford.
- I restored an old skateboard, replacing many of its parts and designing my own artwork for it. I also wrote a blog about how I did this.
- I created and delivered a presentation about an entrepreneur that I admire, and chose to base it on Stan Lee, the creator of the Marvel comics and movies.
I took the opportunity to do some activities related to the environment as well, which were:
- I joined Tramore Tidy Towns to help clean our local beach every Sunday morning.
- I was selected to join the Green Schools Committee, helping with various related activities during the school year (including several Covid safety initiatives).
I decided to try learning some new skills during the year, including:
- I prepared myself to sit the Driver Theory Test, which involved practising lots of sample questions using a computer program at home. I applied to sit the real test too but my test date was postponed due to Covid-19, so I am still waiting to finish this.
- I took a number of cookery & baking classes at school and made several meals and dishes at home throughout the year. I plan to continue with these as my younger brother and Dad have fallen in love with my brownies!
Sport & Recreation
The school arranged lots of different sporting and recreational activities during the year. These included surfing, cycling (on the Waterford Greenway), walking (on the Suir Blueway and Dunmore East cliffs), as well as Archery & Climbing (at the Dunmore East Adventure Centre).
I also completed a range of different courses online, which included Road Safety (e.g. drink and drug driving, fatigue, cyclists and distractions), Concussion & Covid Safety, creating an education course on skateboard design and skills, presentations skills and using Microsoft Teams.
We attended a number of University Open Days too, which were very informative and helpful.
While the year was very different to what I expected and I definitely would have loved to do some work experience and take a trip abroad with my friends, I still feel that I have learned a lot. I would definitely recommend that everyone should do Transition Year if they get the chance to.