Lesson Plans for High School Science Teachers

Balancing High-Tech and Low-Tech Experiences for Learning: Visiting Museums

In today’s world of connectedness, students may think the best way to learn is to be online. While there certainly are advantages to using the internet to learn, there are just as many advantages to learning using interactive experiences and low-tech, hands-on learning opportunities. The key is for parents and educators to balance the two so that kids have the chance to learn as much as possible. One of the best ways to balance the two is to visit museums with kids.

Engaging Students in Their Learning

When kids are engaged in their learning, they are more motivated and use higher-level critical thinking skills. Engaging activities also provide more meaningful learning experiences for kids. By giving students the ability to choose topics to explore, parents and teachers naturally engage them in their learning.

For example, if parents are planning a trip to Gettysburg, they should give kids time to Google the Civil War and then research subtopics that most interest them. Some kids may be interested in learning about the age of soldiers, others may be interested in learning about the battles, and still others may want to learn about Abraham Lincoln and the Gettysburg Address. The internet can provide students with background knowledge and a good starting point for learning. They are motivated because they have a choice in their research and feel empowered because they have the opportunity to learn about something in which they are interested.

Visiting MuseumsHowever, students do not gain a deep understanding of concepts when they simply see photos of it or watch movies about it online. Studies show that students remember what they hear the least but remember what they see and experience first-hand the best. Experiential learning, or learning that involves hands-on, interactive, and real-life experiences, is the best way to engage students in learning and help them remember what they learn. That is why low-tech experiences are even more valuable than high-tech experiences for student learning, and why parents and educators need to take kids on field trips and to museums to engage in interactive programming.

Learning Science at the Halle Heart Children’s Museum

Imagine that you want to teach kids about their hearts. You could begin by asking them what they know about their hearts, sharing the information, and talking about it. These discussions involve kids in their learning and give them the opportunity to tap into the knowledge they already have, which makes them feel more confident about their learning. They experience success because they already know something: their hearts beat, their hearts speed up when they exercise, they can feel and hear their hearts beating, doctors listen to their hearts, etc.

Next, you can give kids time to explore educational sites to expand their background knowledge about hearts. They may see diagrams, read about the heart, and watch videos. Again, these high-tech experiences give kids access to the facts and form their initial knowledge, but they are not as meaningful as hands-on, interactive experiences. Museums can bring science to life for kids in ways that no other learning experience can.

Balancing high-tech and low-tech experiences enhances learning for students. When students gain background knowledge with high-tech activities and then get into deeper learning with low-tech, hands-on activities, they remember more and understand concepts more fully.

Image via Pixabay by lcr3cr

Author: Jenny Wise

Jenny Wise created the web site Special Home Educator as a forum for sharing her adventures in homeschooling and connecting with other homeschooling families. She enjoys providing advice to parents who are considering homeschooling their kids.