There are many different theorists in this area, such as John Dewey (1938) and more recently David Kolb (1984).
Simon Fraser University defines experiential learning as:
“the strategic, active engagement of students in opportunities to learn through doing, and reflection on those activities, which empowers them to apply their theoretical knowledge to practical endeavours in a multitude of settings inside and outside of the classroom.”
There is a wide range of design models that aim to embed learning within real world contexts, including:
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"Math on a Budget: Cheap 10 Frames for Manipulatives" and "Math Manipulatives on a Budget" by Mary Lee Bertram is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.5 CA
Using manipulatives in math is all the rage in early years as a way to help kids connect concrete concepts with the abstract ideas introduced in math. I love teaching with manipulatives because let’s face it math is much more fun when you can play with something! One of the tools early years teachers use is the 10 frame. The idea behind ten frames is to help students gain a clear understanding of place value by becoming familiar with units, 5s and 10s in a very concrete manner. Each small rectangle represents a unit and each row have 5 units in them, and finally the two rows put together give you 10 units. They are also great for helping students with their basic math facts, make 10 especially!
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"Science and mathematics teaching through local games in preschools of Botswana" in the South African Journal of Childhood Education by Kabita Bose, Grace Seetso is licensed under CC BY 4.0
This article presents a study regarding preschool teachers' skills and competencies in teaching science and mathematics. The aim of the project was twofold; one to find out the preschool teachers' knowledge about mathematics and science concepts and then to develop support material to empower them with skills and competencies to teach these concepts in preschools. A qualitative approach was adopted, and a case study method was used. Data were collected through two workshops and focus group discussions with preschool teachers. The study revealed that the preschool teachers had content knowledge, but lacked pedagogical knowledge that is crucial in teaching of preschool children, and they provided science and mathematics experiences in preschools scarcely. A resource book of 33 local games and rhymes thus was developed as a support material to empower the teachers with skills and competencies to use play to teach science and mathematics in preschools. The resource book developed consists of 33 local games/rhymes and is packaged with the games' illustrations, steps and rules followed in the games, science and mathematics concepts and competencies that could be taught to children, along with probing questions that would help in teaching of science and mathematics concepts to children.
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"Child Science Skill Improvement through Hands-On Learning Activities in Kindergarten with Limited Human Resources and Facilities" in American Journal of Educational Research by Rukiyah, Marlina, Mohammad Kanedi is licensed under CC BY 4.0.
The early childhood education (ECE) curriculum in Indonesia, either explicitly or implicitly, includes science skills as one of the basic competencies that children must achieve. However, under the pretext of lack availability of facilities, majority of educators have not carry out science learning appropriately. This study aimed to demonstrate and convince early childhood education practitioners that an interesting and effective learning to develop science process skills of children can be implemented even in a kindergarten with limited facilities. By using one-shot case study design, 17 children of Group B (aged 5-6 years) at Srijaya Kindergarten of Palembang were exposed to hands-on activities including exploring materials that float or sink, dissolved or unsoluble, color mixing; making letters using play dough; and observing insects with magnifying glass. The child science skills were observed and assessed using observational forms and child worksheets. The results showed 9 (52.95%) subjects obtained scores range 80-100; 4 (23.5%) achieved score range of 66-79, 3 (17.6%) reached score range of 56-65, and 1 (5.9%) obtained score of 52. Thus, it can be concluded that science learning with a process skill approach proved to be effective for developing children's science skills, even in kindergartens with limited facilities such as in Srijaya Kindergarten of Palembang.
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"Hands-On Math and Art Exhibition Promoting Science Attitudes and Educational Plans" in Education Research International by Helena Thuneberg, Hannu Salmi, and Kristof Fenyvesi is licensed under CC BY 4.0.
Children start to learn mathematics long before they are exposed to formal teaching at school . Nearly all children have some sense of numbers from early on, are capable of counting the basic numbers (“one, two, three, etc.”), and are proud to tell their own age. They get to know the basic geometrical shapes and objects like circles, balls, and squares in natural everyday situations. Further, they can tell the time, use money by playing shop, compare and evaluate the magnitude of figures, and strategize, for example, by playing cards. Preschool aged kids get involved with applied mathematics also through ICT and digitalization while playing computer games or using tablet and smartphone applications. This learning of mathematics most often happens unconsciously. This is typically informal learning , which can also be utilized in a science exhibition context .
However, the older the children, the more complicated the mathematical problems they encounter in everyday situations, especially when they start school. Then, it becomes crucial to exploit their natural curiosity, imagination, and willingness to play  in the learning of mathematics and to support them to discover the meaningfulness and worth of mathematics. According to the TIMSS 2015 study (TIMMS: Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study), half of the international fourth-grade mathematics curricula include attitudes and mention, for example, beliefs, confidence, and perseverance as well as the beauty of mathematics, developing a productive disposition toward mathematics, appreciating the practical applications of mathematics in life, and displaying a constructively critical attitude toward mathematics . Some countries mention appreciation of scientific inquiry and science as a discipline or curiosity and interest.
The current science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics education (STEAM) approach underlines integration of abstract mathematical ideas to find concrete solutions and evidence by art . Children have to be able to use their senses and hands-on experimentation in order to test their thinking, especially at the concrete operational stage . The importance of own exploration and experience is supported by the principle of learning by doing by Dewey  and the key of science center pedagogy, hands-on activity by Oppenheimer . In case of math learning, manipulation of materials in multiple ways allows abstract mathematical concepts to become understandable, creative problem-solving to become possible, and mathematics to become meaningful . Hands-on activities and exploration involve factors that enhance creativity: the encouragement of questions and novel initiatives and the offering of opportunities to discuss and debate problems with others . Usually, these are perceived as welcoming challenges by high-achieving students. The empirical results of a study by Mann  that explored elements of mathematical creativity in middle school students showed that the strongest predictor was math achievement; it explained one-quarter of the variance. And one half of that predicted gender, attitudes toward mathematics, and belief in one’s own creative abilities. However, mathematical giftedness does not always guarantee mathematical creativity . Further, high achievement or giftedness can sometimes be connected with perfectionism, in which case a fear of failure might turn to avoidance orientation and lead to underachievement as Mofield et al.  stated.
Pupils have shown that, through using a hands-on method, they like learning more, learn and remember better , and attribute their learning outcomes more to hands-on than to traditional teaching methods, or only to seeing or to hearing things. Liking andmotivation have been shown to be connected to developingmathematicalmetacognition,which along with reduced anxiety supports problem-solving . As with the children, teachers have reported that the hands-on method has been the most effective method for their pupils .These benefits of the hands-on method have been shown to apply to a diverse number of learners, from pupils with mild disabilities  to pupils with serious emotional disturbances .
In this article, mathematical problem-solving was combined with art. The learning context was a Math and Art Exhibition, and the mix of math learning and art was represented in the building of mathematical geometric models with concrete materials. These activities require visual imagery and mental rotation. According to Hope , the capacity and skill to create visual representations of the mental images form an essential part of the learning process. Although the immediate goal was to enhance math learning, these activities support the development of spatial skills  and spatial intelligence, which have been identified as important factors of school achievement in general .
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Engagement, particularly in schools, can lack hands-on activity for a number of reasons: not having access to the materials needed; a lack of protocols on how to run a practical activity; a steer towards rote learning and written assignments as methods of teaching and assessment; and many more.
However, hands-on activity in engagement has a great deal of value and was one of the main topics discussed at the 2017 Wellcome Trust International Engagement workshop. In particular, the value of hands-on science demonstrations, experiments and practical exercises in helping to explore and explain complex science ideas.
This page gives a summary and links to some of the hands-on activities demonstrated at the workshop - including do-it-yourself guides to the activities, videos of the presentations and panels, and written summaries.
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"The Impact of Hands-On-Approach on Student Academic Performance in Basic Science and Mathematics" in Higher Education Studies by Cecilia O. Ekwueme, Esther E. Ekon, and Dorothy C. Ezenwa-Nebife is licensed under CC BY 4.0.
Hands-on-approach is a method of instruction where students are guided to gain knowledge by experience. This means giving the students the opportunity to manipulate the objects they are studying, for instance, plants, insects, rocks, water magnetic field, scientific instruments, calculators, rulers, mathematical set, and shapes. In fact, it is a process of doing mathematics and science where students become active participants in the classroom. Haury and Rillero (1994) posit that hands-on learning approach involves the child in a total learning experience which enhances the child’s ability to think critically. It is obvious therefore, that any teaching strategy that is skilled towards this direction can be seen as an activity-oriented teaching method (Hands-on-approach).
Hands-on-approach has been proposed as a means to increase students’ academic achievement and understanding of scientific concepts by manipulating objects which may make abstract knowledge more concrete and clearer. Through hands-on-approach, students are able to engage in real life illustrations and observe the effects of changes in different variables. It offers concrete illustrations of concepts. This method learner-centered which allows the learner to see, touch and manipulate objects while learning as mathematics are more of seeing and doing than hearing; so also with science that advocates “do it yourself”.
Obanya (2012) in his convocation lecture confirmed the above statement by adding that the average retention rate of learning by lecture is 5% while that of practice by doing (Activity-oriented) is about 75%. It can be seen that retention rate increases progressively with the use of more interactive and activity-oriented teaching methods. On the contrary, Ekwueme and Meremikwu (2010) observed in their study that some teachers object to the use of interactive activity-oriented method stating that it is time consuming and do not permit total coverage of the syllabus. Fortunately, the new mathematics and basic science syllabus’ coverage is determined by how much skills/knowledge students’ have acquired rather than how much of the syllabus is covered as learner centeredness is highly advocated Obanya (2012) in his convocation lecture confirmed the above statement by adding that the average retention rate of learning by lecture is 5% while that of practice by doing (Activity-oriented) is about 75%. It can be seen that retention rate increases progressively with the use of more interactive and activity-oriented teaching methods (NERDC, 2008).
Past research work had stated from their findings that one of the major causes of students’ failure in Mathematics and Basic science is lack of good teaching methods (Mandor, 2002; Ezema, 2004; Ekon, 2013). This study therefore, focuses on the possible impact of Hands-on-approach on students’ academic performance in mensuration, geometry, and separation of mixtures in Junior Secondary School Three (JSSIII).
Ekon, E. E. (2013). Effect of Five-steps Conceptual Change instructional Model on Students’ perception of their Psychosocial Learning Environment (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Faculty of Education, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
Ekwueme, C. O., & Meremikwu, A. (2010). The use of calculator in Teaching Calculations in logarithms in secondary schools. Journal of Issues on mathematics, 13, 117-118.
Ezema, H. C. U. (2004). Effective Science and Computer Education. Abuja Farray Digital Prints, Garki, Abuja.
Houry, D. L., & Rillero, P. (1994). Perspectives of Hands-On Science Teaching. ERIC, Columbus, OH.
Manor, A. K. (2002). Effects of Constructivist-Based Instructional Models on Acquisition of Science Process Skills among Junior Secondary students (Unpublished master’s thesis). Faculty of Education, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
NERDC. (2008). Federal Ministry of Education Teachers’ Handbook for the 9-Year Basic Education Curriculum. NERDC Printing Press Lagos.
Obanya, P. (2012). Transformational Pedagogy in Higher Education. 26th Convocation Lecture of University of Calabar, Nigeria.
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