Hands-On Science Labs: Research Says It’s Great

blog header of post over hands-on science labs

Your students can memorize basic facts about physical properties of matter pretty easily. However, what really helps them internalize this information is hands-on learning! It’s not just about being able to list facts. Students need to be able to apply their knowledge. Learn how hands-on science labs help students master content.

Research Behind Hands-On Science Labs

As far back as John Dewey (1916), educational researchers have been all about hands-on learning in the K-12 classroom. This translates perfectly with science! Hands-on science labs help students master content and gain a deeper understanding of the concepts they are learning.

Hands on science lab for physical properties

In more recent times, researchers from the University of Chicago proved that college students who participated in hands-on science labs performed better on assessments. The study used brain scans to show that hands-on science experiments and activities activated sensory and motor-related parts of the brain (2017).

This research is so important in a world that’s becoming increasingly digital. Research from the American Chemical Society (2017-2020) shows that although students beginning in kindergarten may benefit from computer simulations in chemistry labs, they cannot replace hands-on science experiments to help students master content.

Increased Student Engagement

Lectures and screen-based digital activities do not have the level of engagement that hands-on science activities provide. These Physical Properties of Matter Investigation Activities include 13 fast stations that each target a specific observable, measurable, or testable physical property of matter. Each station takes about 5-10 minutes, so students are highly engaged.

Cooperative learning and collaboration increases engagement for all learners! These hands-on science experiments are designed with student engagement and collaboration in mind while using manipulatives and focusing on observable, measurable, and testable properties of matter.

Hands-on Science Labs Align with State Standards

The goal of science teachers is to help students build a deep understanding of science concepts. However, there is a misconception that hands-on learning is not helpful in teaching what’s on a state science test. That’s simply not true! In fact, 40% of STAAR (Texas State Assessment) will have process skills tested along-side specific science content knowledge. Giving your students exposure to hands-on science activities will help them with investigation skills and will improve their performance on tests.

Connected Learning to Real-Life

mass of a beach ball

Another reason hands-on science labs help students master content is that they connect scientific concepts and standards to real-life. What’s a better way to understand observable physical properties: listing characteristics or sorting actual buttons in a hands-on science lab?

When it comes to measurable physical properties, students can make connections by using the tools in this collection of mini labs. Students use a thermometer, triple beam balance, ruler, and a graduated cylinder to measure temperature, mass, length, and volume (respectively). This is far better than just reading about what each tool and measurement means.

It’s not just about what the researchers say. You will see success in your classroom through improved test scores, engagement, and real-life connections with your young scientists! Using hands-on science labs helps your students master content and truly love science!

signed Tammy and Marquise

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