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Hands-On Science in the Classroom

By Heather Skipworth Craven

"If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient attention, than to any other talent"
- Sir Isaac Newton

Science is an area of the curriculum that can utilize hands-on learning perhaps more than any other area. Science is all about discovery, observation, testing theories to learn more, and experimentation. It is so much more than text books and factual knowledge. It allows children to discover for themselves answers to questions. It teaches students patience to persevere in the midst of trial and error.

Hands-on science is a valuable tool that can be utilized in the very youngest of classrooms all the way through high school students. There is something intrinsically valuable about children learning by discovering the answers for themselves.

The following information comes from Learning Points Associates and their article, "Providing Hands-On, Minds-On, and Authentic Learning Experiences in Science".

Using a hands-on approach to teaching and learning enables students to participate fully in a learning community where the teacher is not the only source of knowledge and information. It encourages full involvement in a community of learners that includes other students, parents, teachers, and outside experts. Science and discovery become a tool, supporting the learning process as students seek new knowledge and understanding. The challenge is to define the new approach to teaching and learning with sufficient clarity that it becomes a useful vision for educators as they make decisions about instructional materials, activities, and strategies for teaching. This approach is broken down into three components;
  • Hands-On:
    Students are actually allowed to perform science as they construct meaning and acquire understanding.

  • Minds-On:
    Activities focus on core concepts, allowing students to develop thinking processes and encouraging them to question and seek answers that enhance their knowledge and thereby acquire an understanding of the physical universe in which they live.

  • Authentic:
    Students are presented with problem-solving activities that incorporate authentic, real-life questions and issues in a format that encourages collaborative effort, dialogue with informed expert sources, and generalization to broader ideas and application.

  • Thinking skills, especially higher-order skills, must be learned through practice.

  • A curriculum based on constructivist theory is well-suited to the teaching and learning of science.

  • Learning assessment must be built into the process of instruction.

  • All students should have access to meaningful, engaged learning in science.

In short, using hands on science activities in the classroom is a wonderful and effective way to bring the excitement and discovery of science to life for any age learner.

For more great information on using hands on science activities in your classroom visit Providing Hands-On, Minds-On, and Authentic Learning Experiences in Science.

Read our tip entitled "Using Hands-On Science in the Classroom".

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