Real Benefits of Hands-on Science Learning

It’s been said that science that isn’t hands-on isn’t science at all.

Every educator understands the importance of providing children with direct experiences with materials, objects, and phenomena to encourage personal understanding of a lesson subject. Nowhere is this more apparent—and crucial—than in science lessons.

While scientific information can be remembered when taught through books and lectures, when children study the same concepts through hands-on learning, they build a functional understanding and develop the ability to become independent learners.

Real benefits of hands-on science learning

  • Students have an even playing field on which to participate. Every individual relies on a similar set of experiences regardless of their socio-economic status.
  • Students are forced to think by requiring interpretation of the observed events, rather than memorization of correct responses.
  • Students learn that they can interpret data, often with various and differing interpretations.
  • Students are encouraged to question observed events and the resulting data.
  • Students practice cause-and-effect thinking.
  • Students rely less on authority and more on practical experience. With practical experience in generating hypotheses and planning experiments, students will be better able to make independent decisions later in life. (Robert C. Knott, Ed.D. Science Curriculum Improvement Study 3, University of California, Berkeley)

Source: Perspectives of Hands-On Science Teaching

See hands-on elementary science learning in action

In this video segment above, teachers demonstrate hands-on activities in science lessons. Hands-on learning involves the child in a total learning experience, which enhances the child’s ability to think critically. The child must plan a process to test a hypothesis, put the process into motion using various hands-on materials, see the process to completion, and then be able to explain the attained results.

This video comes with a downloadable guidebook.

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