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Hands-on activities and/or interactive online resources

Learning by doing…this is one of the basic ideas in education.  Scientific experiments are good examples of this.  In the teaching and learning of topics in science, do you use hands-on activities and experiments?  How about interactive resources found in online videos/activities?  Please share your resources and experiences!


Susan K. Cowles's picture
One hundred

OK, here is an example of an interactive resource.

Students are working to meet their goals by the end of 2013…is anyone studying human anatomy?  If so, this site offers a quick test of how well one knows human anatomy.  It is not instructional, but it could be used as an introduction to human anatomy, as a quick evaluation, and as practice in reading diagrams.  It comes from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.  Body Parts: How Well Do you Know your Anatomy?

If you have used this resource, please let us know!


Akira Kami's picture

Thanks for starting this... I work for SABES in Massachusetts.

Here is one activity that I think has very wide application! And I like it because it
is kinesthic and visual and if used with a projector can be a great whole class
activity that demonstrates graphing.

Pasco makes a USB motion sensor that will graph in real time up on the screen
your distance away from the sensor.

This device hooks up to a computer via USB and runs with software that will
show the graph of time vs. distance. The software has various sample graphs that
students can try to replicate by walking back and forth in front of the sensor.

So for example you might have a line that starts a x=0 and y=0
[where x is distance in feet and y=time in seconds] and rises with a slope of 1.

So to replicate this one would have to walk away from the sensor at 1 foot per second.

I think it gives a much better understanding  of what a graph is representing when one
actually creates it on screen in real time!

Here is a graph of someone walk back and forth rapidly.
a peak and valley line graph with time scale along bottom


Here is a video clip of an experiment using this stuff.


Akira Kamiya
Boston SABES
System for Adult Basic Education Support
Educational Technology Coordinator

[Please Note that I am in no way affliated to Pasco, so I am not trying to plug their product
for any gain. But I have used their stuff and find it very good.]





Susan K. Cowles's picture
One hundred

Akira, thanks so much for sharing this activity!  As you say, it has the components that facilitate learning. 

Has anyone else tried something that works (or that didn't work, which is also valuable to dissect)?


Susan K. Cowles's picture
One hundred

As much as it would be great to be able to have science labs in the classroom, it is an impractical idea in many cases.  For example, how easy would it be to incorporate actual experiments with liquid nitrogen into explorations about atoms and molecules?  Not very easy!  However, here is a website with a library of videos.   These videos demonstrate various experiments as a supplement to learning “All about Atoms”.    Frostbite Theater:  Start with the experiment, “Freezing Balloons”, for a demonstration of the properties of a gas.

This website is brought to the public by The Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, aka Jefferson Lab.  It is a U.S. Department of Energy basic research laboratory “…operated to study and understand the detailed structure and behavior of the nucleus of the atom.”  The Jefferson Lab is also a resource for educational agencies.

Has anyone tried making models or doing hands-on experiments as a part of the study of atoms and molecules?


lavernegc's picture

Hi Susan,

Years ago I taught special ed classes at the high school level.  We worked on the periodic table, building 10 of the most common atoms on the chart.  I used marshmallows (mini) and tooth picks.  After the students built the atoms, and easy compounds (water, salt, sugars) they could eat them. I hope it was educational, if not it was fun!

Leslie Humphreys's picture

I think this is a great idea.  My students love hands on activities, and I love them because when your engaging more senses; you are better able to remember what you learned.




(PS There is also a free IPad app that allows students to do the same type of building activity. The only thing I don't like is that it will not allow you to go back and rebuild and item you've already completed. (Sometimes we have to share IPads, so this means everyone can't actually do it.)

Susan K. Cowles's picture
One hundred

Hi, Leslie,

Have you tried both the IPad app and the actual marshmallow activity?  It would be interesting to have student feedback (no pun intended) on a comparison!


Susan K. Cowles's picture
One hundred

Thanks for this example of building molecular structures with marshmallows.  I can see that it would be enjoyable!  Does anyone else have an idea for hands-on activities like this one...those related to science, I mean!