BY SCOTT HUNTER HADDOW
Matthew Jefkins, a Grade 11 chemistry and biology student at Lockerby Composite School, holds a beaker of solution in a lab class. His eyes light up as he discovers the wonders contained inside. This hands-on approach to learning has enriched his educational experience, and it?s just the beginning for Jefkins.
Lockerby recognizes the important benefits of hands-on approach to learning, and for that, their students are getting a competitive advantage in the tough educational sector.
Recently, the school received a substantial donation from Poulton?s Independent Grocery for a unique forensic initiative in the school?s STEP program.
The initiative is called Reflection and Design and will cover genetics and forensics in the fields of Grade 12 chemistry and biology. The course will begin this fall.
?It still covers all the Ontario curriculum, but with a forensic and genetic spin on activities,? said Sylvia Donato, a biology teacher. ?It?s always good to update and it was a great opportunity for us to step up and further develop our programs.?
The donation from Poulton?s will go toward the implementation of the program, and cover the costs of things such as forensic and genetic equipment.
The biology component will cover topics such as DNA analysis and details of genetic finger printing.
?It?s very rare that students get an opportunity to do hands-on activities to this degree and a great chance for students to use equipment that they
normally might not use,? said Donato.
The chemistry component will cover topics such as analysis of trace evidence at a crime scene.
?It develops their problem solving skills and critical thinking with the hands-on approach,? said Vicki-Sue Majkot, a chemistry teacher.
?It is hoped it will attract more students to the STEP program. It will definitely better prepare students for post-secondary education.?
Jefkins is eager to start the course because he knows it will provide practical experience he will need for his future.
?A course like this will get me more prepared and ahead of the game for post secondary education,? said Jefkins. ?I will be able to use my hands and brain more to figure things out for myself, versus being told them.
To be eligible for the new course, students must be enrolled in the STEP program and in chemistry and biology classes.