Vernier Science Education - June  2024


Forums / Distance Learning / Distance Learning and Hands on Activities

Distance Learning

Distance Learning and Hands on Activities

Author Post
Emily Jimenez Emily Jimenez 635 Points

Hi all! I am a current graduate student at Tennessee Tech University studying to be an Elementary School Teacher! I am particularly interested in how everyone is going about doing hands-on activities or experiments in this new era of distance learning. What tools are you using and how do you provide the hands-on aspect of science learning? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and input! Thanks! 

Jessica Lee Jessica Lee 555 Points

Hi Emily!  I briefly taught virtually during this difficult time.  I also found it challenging to come up with ways for them to complete experiments virtually.  One thing that I did was give students choices for materials, so that they could feel successful.  We have pick ups at my school, but having a way to be flexible is what worked best for me.  For example, I had my students do a floating experiment to see what type of boat would float and the how much weight would keep it floating.  Students could use different materials for their boats and different materials for their weights.  While that created a lot of variation, students could make comparisons.  They posted a video of their creation and results on seesaw, then commented on each other's video.  It was one of my favorite activities, because families were involved and you could tell they had a lot of fun.  Be flexible and give choice!

Lindsey Smith Lindsey Smith 990 Points

Hi Emily and Jessica! Jessica, I love your idea on the floating experiment. I think this is such a good way to have students get involved at home and doing fun experiments. I never thought about this and would definitely use this in the future!

Jenna Nelson Jenna Nelson 230 Points

Hello there! I have been online all year in Gr6 elementary science (and ELA). Due to having students from many different schools within my district, as well as number of students, frequency of them moving to in person or into online, and no budget made distributing materials not a viable option. That said, like you I know science is a verb and was feeling frustrated. My solution this year is to have 'Science Wednesday' where on that day students can either watch or participate at home with their own materials, a more tangible science lesson. Since materials have to be supplied by families, it is optional. I give families a week in advance to gather items and do my best to make them as everyday and cheap as possible. I also seek lessons that tie into our learning standards. In our district, 6th grade is all life science so a few weeks ago we extracted DNA from strawberries and we've also made bread using yeast. For all students, I've also implemented sit spots so they can go outside and simply observe, especially as spring is here. It's not a perfect system, but I feel it's been better than all screen time. 

Kim Leslie Kim and Leslie 30 Points

I love Jenna's example above with the DNA extraction - that's super cool, right? Being able to do something so 'science-y' with kitchen supplies can really inspire and empower kiddos. As she points out, it's not a slam dunk that our kids will have what they need, but providing alternative hands-on tasks, demos on video they can respond to, etc can work. I teach online science as my regular job (not just in the pandemic) and have found that it's never okay to insist on hands-on tasks because it's just not feasible/reasonable for a lot of kids with their home situation and environment. But I always provide the OPTION, often many, in a given module of study, so those that can or want to, can! Check out resources like the Exploratorium's 'science snacks.' Finally, I love the idea of solo sits too - basically any task that invites kids to step away from the screen, tune in, make observations... The smallest task can inspire much more. Asking students to go out everyday and somehow figure out which way the wind is blowing, for example. Or what the temperature might be without using a thermometer. 

Graceland Greener Graceland Greener 2100 Points

I really like your idea on 'Science Wednesday' and having students work from home for a science lesson on this day. But, what if students in low economic households can't get the materials needed? How would you adapt to their needs?


Nicole Adams Nicole Adams 450 Points

Hi Jenna! I saw your 'Science Wednesday' idea and I think this a doable option in my future classroom as well. I have been following this forum to see what other teachers ask of their students at home in concerns to materials and participation. Having one scheduled day each week gives parents a level of structure and time to prepare if you provide a supply list in advance. Making this optional is a great way for students to be involved on different levels of participation or observation. I think if students are not participating in the experiment, they could be given an additional requirement of taking notes or writing a paragraph summary of what happened.  

Isabella Pichardo Isabella Pichardo 1475 Points

Hey all! I know it's been hard to do hands-on activities with current circumstances. Some ways I have seen bridge the gap is by teachers having mailed or delivered to their students boxes with items they need but wouldn't have around their house. Another way is by having the students pick up kits every month from their school. By providing the materials, they are able to follow the virtual instructions.

Kunta Hutabarat Kunta Hutabarat 150 Points

I wonder what you all think about the idea of having a kit checked out to the students where they can play and learn. It is like bringing science museum into their home. It will be reusable. This link shows the idea. As their teacher, you can get feedback along the way while they are playing. Will this approach work?

Tony Cantu Tony Cantu 10 Points

Thank you for sharing such info with us through your post

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