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Distance Learning

Hands-on Activities at Home

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Valeria Amaro Valeria Amaro 440 Points

Hello! Due to the pandemic, the oppotunity for students to engage in the lesson has been declining. It is necessary to come up with new startegies that will ensure the every student is enagge in the lesson. For this reason, I believe it is important to incoporate hands-on activities in an online instruction. Taking into consideration the resources in an average household, what would be some good science activities for the students? 

Jordan Bailey Jordan Bailey 295 Points

Hi! I'm not sure what age group you are working with, but for younger students the Daily Do's on NSTA are a great place to start. If you're doing environmental education, encouraging students to go on backyard safaris and engaging in citizen science is excellent. Cornell's All About Birds website is a free tool that students could use to identify birds they observe and learn more about their needs, habitats, behaviors, etc.

My school has just launched a series of interactive, online STEM lessons targeted towards 3rd-5th grade students. They have a hands-on component, but are also structured so that students can do the lesson without having their own set of materials. Students make choices and predictions in the module and receive immediate feedback. It’s sort of like a “choose your own adventure” take on a Magic School Bus episode. You can learn more and request free access on our website:

We also have compiled a list of free multimedia resources through other organizations for students and educators.

Zooniverse is an online tool that is appropriate for all ages to engage with different projects around the world in a variety of subject areas (including astrophysics research and medical research, so not just conservation biology!). It’s not strictly hands-on, but it is engaging and focused on applying their knowledge to support global science research.

For other hands on lessons that could work with what students have lying around, they could use Legos® to build scale models of different objects or pieces of furniture to understand measurement or to understand how to do different formulas with fractions.

You could have older students make their own pH indicator solution by boiling red cabbage and have them test different liquids around their house. 

Students can learn about oxidation through this coin cleaning experiment (and maybe test their proposed cleaning solutions with the pH indicator?) 

Density of different liquids is a pretty simple concept to test at home with varying liquids common to a kitchen. This website has a good example.

Help students see transpiration in action

Students could put an egg in vinegar to dissolve the shell and then place the egg in water to understand osmosis (the egg will expand). Holding the egg in front of a light will allow them to see the yolk and better understand how an egg is layered fluids within membranes.

For an engineering challenge, you could have students do an egg drop from a specified height using materials around their house to build some sort of protective container. You’d probably want to avoid a competition since students are likely to have varying resources. Instead you could have them write a page or two on what materials they chose to use, why they chose them, and then assessing their success or failure based on their observations. You could even have them record their drop test using a phone or computer.

If your students are exploring sound waves, you could have them create various “instruments” from supplies around the house. A glass tumbler with water of varying heights, a cup with rubberbands strung across the top. . . etc.

Angeles Guillen Angeles Guillen 460 Points

Given that each student may have different supplies at home, and depending the age group these students are in, you could do an activity that allows you to know what each student actually has in their house. With this information you then could go on to create their hands-on activities. Another way you could go about this, would be you reaching out to the parents with ideas of hands-on activities you would like to do and allow the parents to choose which activity would work best given the supplies students need. During this situations, communication is key amongst all. 

Raechel Waddy Raechel Waddy 965 Points

One way to achieve a hands-on, virtual classroom that engages students is through the creation and dissemination of student kits for at-home labs and activities. During the pandemic, I posted supply lists for labs by term and developed a system for parents to pick up certain supplies from the school on specified days. Some labs were completed independently and had questions or a lab report, but most were run like a traditional classroom lab where students conducted them on camera and altogether. It made students look forward to lab days, presentation days, and become more engaged in the notes themselves so that they could perform labs and understand the 'what' and 'why' of the investigations.

Rana Arham Rana 30 Points

Considering the diverse supplies students may have at home, especially across different age groups, you could conduct an activity to assess their available resources. With this information, you can tailor hands-on activities to suit each student. Alternatively, you may engage parents by proposing various hands-on activity ideas and allowing them to choose based on the supplies available at home. Effective communication is crucial in these situations.

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