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The Last, Best Ingredient to Hands-On Science Is Fun

Friday, July 5, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kathy Blackford and Jane Wright
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"paper airplane" by hgz09 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0 


Learning science, or anything for that matter, is a lot easier when lessons incorporate plenty of hands-on activities.


Hands-on activities bring lessons to life. When they are followed with enough time for sharing, reflecting, generalizing, and applying, not only are youth DOING, they are LEARNING.


Professionals and volunteers in 4-H will recognize those elements as the experiential learning model. It is extremely effective, and here’s why:

·         Hands-on learning allows youth to make their own discoveries. Even the youngest 4-H members have expectations about the outcomes of experiments. If their expectations are correct, bravo! If they are incorrect, that is okay too. Surprises, or unexpected results, have powerful learning outcomes too.

·         Hands-on learning engages the senses. When youth can see, hear, smell, and touch, they are engaged.

·         Hands-on learning develops critical thinking skills by encouraging youth to ask questions. Youth develop reasoning and problem-solving skills by asking what if, making changes, and causing different outcomes.

·         One more element to hands-on science is extremely important: FUN! All members, young and “old” alike, appreciate experiments and demonstrations with a wow factor.


Tremendous benefits result from hands-on learning: the ability to make predictions and ask questions, a view of one’s self as an investigator or researcher, the capacity to learn from one’s mistakes, deep engagement that uncovers a future career, etc.—all positive outcomes that lead to lifelong learning.


Ohio State University Extension takes hands-on science—and fun—seriously, especially when it comes to 4-H. Projects in the Science Fun series start with tried and true STEM-related activities that provide exciting “aha moments” and that build and reinforce science knowledge. All five are beginner-level projects, but because of their subject matter, all also are appropriate for older members. Each book offers easy-to-follow experiments requiring inexpensive, readily available materials.


·         Science Fun with Kitchen Chemistry – Admiral Atom, Ensign Electron, and Private Proton assist with experiments that use common household items to stop an alien invasion. Members learn about matter, acids, bases, chemical reactions, and how to perform scientific tests. [Link is http://go.osu.edu/articlehandsonkitchen.]


·         Science Fun with Physics – The Amazing Newtoni discovers that what appears to be magic can be explained by the laws of physics. Members learn “tricks” they can show their friends. [Link is http://go.osu.edu/articlehandsonphysics.]


·         Science Fun with Dairy Foods: The Case of the Missing Milk –Detectives hunt for missing milk and discover it has changed into butter, ricotta, curds, and more, all of which are made and eaten. [Link is http://go.osu.edu/articlehandsondairy.]


·         Science Fun with Flight – Members learn about air pressure, turbulence, and friction using simple illustrations and quick tests. An experimental glider demonstrates how these forces work. [Link is http://go.osu.edu/articlehandsonflight.]


·         Science Fun with Electricity – Eleven experiments build on each other in this thorough introduction to electricity. The book also includes the progression of electricity discoveries and inventions. [Link is http://go.osu.edu/articlehandsonelectricity.]


To see sample pages or to purchase books from the Science Fun series, visit extensionpubs.osu. [Link is http://go.osu.edu/articlehandson.]

National Association of Extension 4-H Youth Development Professionals


701 Exposition Place, Suite 206 | Raleigh, NC 27615 | T: (919) 232-0112 | E: contact@nae4hydp.org