Says science is learning process, not just list of facts
Hillsboro High School science teacher Scott O’Hare has a goal for his students. He hopes that when they leave his classroom, rather than taking the world for granted, they understand the science behind the things they see.
“(Science) plays such a major role in everything you see and do,” he said.
Toward that goal, O’Hare focuses on teaching students the scientific method — how to learn new things. Experimenting is one of the most important scientific tools, and it helps keep students interested in class, he said.
His physical science class performed an experiment Thursday using fractional distillation to separate a mixture of liquids.
In a previous class, they had graphed the temperature of the mixture over time as they heated it. The students noticed there were two times when the temperature leveled off for a while. O’Hare explained that occurred when one of the liquids in the mixture boiled.
Because the liquids in the mixture had different boiling points, the students were able to separate them by boiling the mixture and collecting the vapors produced.
The next experiment would involve identifying liquids in the mixture, using the distilled components the students collected, O’Hare said.
HHS Principal Max Heinrichs said he hasn’t had any serious discipline referrals from O’Hare’s classes. He thinks that is partly because O’Hare keeps the students interested in learning.
Heinrichs said O’Hare is a good role model for students. He is a hard worker, organized, and positive.
“His attitude is contagious,” Heinrichs said. “You’ll never hear a bad word uttered about Scott O’Hare.”
Freshman Amanda Fisher said she wasn’t interested in science before O’Hare’s class, but now it is one of her favorite subjects.
“He does a lot of hands-on stuff,” she said.
The practical experiments make it easier to understand the scientific principles O’Hare teaches, she said.
O’Hare has taught science at HHS 14 years.