Physics is a referent for the comprehension of a good part of today’s science and technology, also of a lot of related social phenomena. Hands-on activities are one of the strategies used to make its learning more attractive. By means of them the comprehension of concrete natural processes is achieved through the direct experimentation with everyday low cost materials and objects.
Usually these manipulative activities, outside the academic world, find their proper place in museums and interactive centers. They are especially popular in the Anglo-Saxon educational world, where the “the learning through play/learning through doing” methodology is predominant in teaching.
On this web page you will find different manipulative activities classified by their affinity in six big thematic blocks. They can be used in the classroom as self-study tools or in extra-curricular activities. In each case some brief information is provided about its foundation, materials, explanations, suggestions, links and references…. Besides, the actual functioning of each of them can be visualized in video format.
These activities require different levels of abstraction and their basic structure follows the Reading-Concept-Explanation-Observation-Activity-Additional Reading procedure/action. Its main goal is to prompt the need of performing a real implicative action once the information presented is consulted. Scientific manipulative learning is therefore promoted as a way of improving scientific education.
A good deal of the material presented is the direct result of the work effected by the students of the Mining and Energy Engineering School of the University of Vigo while doing their four-month project in Physics in the subjects Physics 1 and Physics 2 of
MINING AND ENERGY RESOURCES ENGINEERING DEGREE
In a Project-Based Learning Context a task involving a challenge where working in small groups, they must create, document (linking with other content and providing complementary information) and present a Hands-on Learning Activity once the necessary resources have been found and used. Much of this new material must incorporate image, sound, videos, text, and elements such as interactive web pages or online virtual simulation tools. During these mini-projects the students under the supervision of a teacher build up a model, make measurements, create hypotheses, estimate, discuss and suggest. This requires an additional intellectual effort and offers a view of the practical component that is more creative and contextualized than the one offered by routine work in the lab.
This methodology of learning by doing can be exported to pre-university courses and other scientific disciplines. Of course, the contents of this webpage can be used also in scientific divulgation activities.