Skip to content

edu180atl: janelle wilson 10.17.11

Hands On or Hands Off?

I believe in science classrooms where students are doing and the teacher is facilitating. This is how I conduct my classroom on a daily basis. For instance, today my students and I learned about the interior structure of the Earth by going outside and walking scale distances from the center of the Earth’s inner core to the surface of the crust.  At the boundary between each layer, we stopped and discussed the composition and commented on the visualization of the distance. When we finished our walk and returned to the classroom, I asked my students what they thought of the activity. One response stood out: “This was much more interesting than just looking at a PowerPoint and taking notes.”

I imagine science classrooms all over the country look like mine, so I was surprised to learn from an article I read this morning about a science teacher in South Florida who is striking back against the hands on science classroom opting instead for hands off learning.

This goes inherently against the nature of science. Science is something we do. At the end of the day, do I want my students to do well on standardized tests? Of course! But is that the reason I teach science to my students? No! Instilling a lifelong love for science is my goal, and I believe in hands on, discovery and inquiry based science. Am I alone?

What type of science do you believe in?

Bio:  Janelle Wilson (@janellewilson) facilitates Earth science discovery at Lanier Middle and is a self proclaimed science nerd and space geek.

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Thanks Janelle. Definitely a hands on science for me.

    Incidentally, ms14 commented at our dinner table last night that one of the best things in her day yesterday was a 2-period Science class because they did a couple of pracs (hands on experiment). Just the sort of story to help me ‘forget’ the angst raised by ‘that’ article.

    October 17, 2011
  2. Janelle,
    I teach high school physics, and am totally with you. This article has generated lots of buzz on twitter, and a bunch of science teachers will be discussing it on scichat tomorrow night at 9pm. Just go to and follow the hashtag #scichat.

    October 17, 2011
    • Thanks! I frequently drop in on #scichat – at least when I can stay up past 9pm! I first saw the article thanks to @fnoschese on Twitter.

      October 18, 2011
  3. I think I’m a LONG, long way removed from you! I think there is a REAL danger that ‘hands on science’ can become ”science’ for those that don’t understand science’, i.e. an exercise in giving the impression that science can *necessarily* be ‘understood’ and grasped by all – it can’t, and that’s OK – it REALLY is!

    October 18, 2011
    • I agree that certain levels of science are more specialized, but in middle school, I think most concepts can be grasped by all students. And don’t confuse my hands on methods with ease – my classes are very challenging. I help my students discover correct answers by questioning and other methods. However, it is much easier from me to do this in Earth science than for you with AP chemistry!

      October 18, 2011
  4. bekah #

    Hands on science is so much more fun! Definitely better than looking at a powerpoint and taking notes.

    October 18, 2011

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: