One thing I have been thinking about a lot since we ran Party Elements science mini-camp at the end of August, and since my children went back to school earlier this month, is how well children seem to learn using hands-on activities, and how little of a standard school curriculum actually includes hands-on learning activities to help kids learn. As one mother said to me after science camp, “If only my son had a program like yours all year long, I am sure he would really enjoy science.” As an educator and a parent, I was curious: do all children learn better by doing? What research has been done on this?
It turns out that much of the research is segregated by the age of the children being studied (not surprisingly), and that it is uniformly accepted that preschool-aged children learn better with hands-on learning and free play than they do with any structured academics (check out links HERE and HERE). This is also true for elementary school aged children (see HERE and HERE) and middle-school aged children (see HERE), and even in high school and college (check out the links HERE and HERE).
So if that is so clear that hands-on learning works best for most children at most ages, why is there not enough of that type of learning in the classrooms? Well, it takes more resources, generally, and also more time to reach the same outcome and more teacher training to ensure that the students are learning the material they need. Unfortunately, most public school structured programs do not allow for significant amounts of hands-on learning time, which is why it is even more important to do extra-curricular activities like Party Elements Science Camp whenever you can!
Keep exploring and learning, readers, and have a great day!