Taking it hands on

If there is any teacher at Oakville that applies the old phase, “practice makes perfect,” it is science teacher Tom MacFarland.

MacFarland has been teaching within the district for the past four years. Having taught geology, fossils and biology, MacFarland also teaches Botany and Meteorology.

Although both classes descend within the same subject; they cover very different materials. Botany of course is the study of plants. Meteorology  is the scientific study of the weather. Despite their differences MacFarland has managed to create an equally hands on learning environment in both classes.

“[Everyday] they get to go out and get [to report] the precipitation, cloud cover and type, or they will go online and find weather maps”, MacFarland said. Not only that, each student gets the chance to predict the weather using the same elements the weather man uses.

“I think it gives them a better appreciation for the job meteorologists do every day,” MacFarland said.

Chris Holder (12) agrees and believes that weather assignments help him to “understand the difficulty of the weather man’sb job.”

In botany however, he uses a slightly different approach to hands on learning. Each student is assigned an area around OHS where they get to write a proposal and plan a landscape. They must take measurements and gather information about the plants they may consider planting in their assigned area.

“You get the experience of planting and planning a landscape,” MacFarland said, “You [also] get an understanding of what costs and work go into it.”

Of course the project is not real.  No the student will not really be landscape certain areas on the OHS campus, but they still get to go through the motions.

“I think it’s cool to think about what improvements we could make for our school,” Conner O’brien (12) said. “We have to know how much mulch we’d need and figure out what plants will grow in our area.”

MacFarland believes that through these simple projects that the students have more fun and become more invested in what they’re learning.