20 Aug 2019


Science starts for kids when they recognize that through their behaviour and experience they can learn about the globe and build their own interpretations of events. “By entering the water, a kid learns to swim best; similarly, by doing science, a kid learns science best.” Instead of merely hearing or reading about it, doing science engages learners and enables them to test their own thoughts and create their own knowledge. Therefore, it is difficult to imagine a science-teaching program without doing science experiences.

Hands-on science is described primarily as any teaching strategy involving activity and direct experience with natural phenomena or any educational experience involving learners actively in manipulating objects in order to obtain knowledge or comprehension. Some terms such as science centred on materials and science centred on activity are used synonymously with hands-on science or terms such as operations centred on materials, manipulative activities and practical tasks are used synonymously with hands-on operations. In contrast to laboratory works, hands-on operations do not necessarily require some unique machinery and medium. Hands-on activities are based on the use of everyday gadgets, simple set-ups or low-cost items that can be found and assembled very easily.

Students need practical possibilities to apply expertise in order to really understand science ideas, and they also need assistance in incorporating or sharing the understanding they acquire. According to the United States National Science Education Standards (1995), during practical activities, students should have minds-on and/or heads-on experiences. The learner is learning through doing while doing a hands-on activity, but while learning minds-on, the learner is thinking about what they or they are learning and doing. A minds-on science activity involves using higher-order thinking, such as problem-solving in comparison with a hands-on activity. Therefore, both physically and mentally, students should be involved in operations that encourage students to question and develop momentarily satisfying responses to their issues.

There is a urgent need to provide the kind of high-quality science education for young people that sets a powerful basis and stimulates interest in pursuing careers in science and other associated areas. More than two-thirds of the 30 professions planned to grow the most over the next decade are in the STEM or healthcare fields. Many underserved colleges lack the resources necessary to provide hands-on science education of high quality.  Mobile laboratories are increasingly being used as a valuable tool to complement traditional classroom science lessons and increase access equity to authentic laboratory experiences and equipment. Mobile laboratories deliver a number of advantages by offering outreach across a wide geographic region, reducing the burden on classroom resources, enabling learners to use genuine laboratory and medical equipment, and enabling learners to communicate with researchers.

The practical operations in the curriculum modules are based on real-world laboratory and medical protocols and were originally designed in 2012 when they were introduced in 2013 in support of the Washington State Science Standards and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS; (National Research Council, 2013). The curriculum modules introduce ideas and material from a variety of fields including physiology, anatomy, neuroscience, chemistry, and biology. All modules involve the use of genuine science and medical equipment, computers and other technology, as well as possibilities for learners to analyze information and carry out mathematical calculations.

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