LogoScience IDEAS Project: 2002-2009

Science IDEAS Elements
Hands-On Science

Page Back

Student Hands-On Activities and Teacher Hands-On demonstrations are an essential part of the Science IDEAS Model. Over the course of multi-day instructional lessons (see Science IDEAS Model), hands-on activities can have a variety of roles. First, they can provide a referential basis for introducing science concepts. Second, they can enhance understanding of science concepts that have been introduced. And, third, they can serve as a basis for initial teaching of science concepts.

Depending on the design of a multi-day lesson, each of the above uses of hands-on activities can be incorporated into the planning of a multi-day science lesson (see Science IDEAS model).

While hands-on activities can help enhance student comprehension of science concepts, unless students are able to describe what happened, explain why it happened and relate the activity to what they are learning about, the activity may lose its purpose. In Science IDEAS, two forms of lab/activity write-ups are used: a short form, which enhances comprehension as a verification of a concept, and a long form, which reflect more of an open inquiry process of understanding (see Related References).

The teacher resource section of this web-page also includes many hands-on activities examples along with forms for writing-up laboratory activities.

An important instructional strategy followed by science ideas is to present students with multiple examples that illustrate the same concept. The rationale for this strategy is that multiple examples provide students with the opportunity to distinguish conceptually relevant aspects of the concept illustrated (i.e., whatever is common across the examples) while enhancing generalizability of understanding (i.e., same concept embedded in different settings). In addition, once students have experienced a number of examples, they are able to make inferential predictions about what will happen in additional new examples.

A series of demonstrations/hands-on activities illustrates how the preceding can be accomplished with Bernoulli’s concept relating the velocity of fluids to changes in fluid pressure (see Related References).

Note- Using Bernoulli’s principle as an example, as students experience the demonstrations and/or conduct their own activities, they are able to progress from describing what happened, to explaining what happened in terms of Bernoulli’s principle, to using Bernoulli’s principle to make predictions about the outcomes.

Page Back