Lab Day: Hands-On Learning for World Class Success

"It's one thing to have a teacher lecture you; it's another to get in there and do some hands-on work that's a little bit different and kind-of exciting. It helps open up minds, sometimes."   FEA spokesman Mark Pudlow


SEMINOLE, Cty. - From rollercoaster madness in Seminole to learning CSI-style forensics techniques in Boca Raton, to snorkeling in the coral reefs of Miramar, Florida students are partnering with professionals for hands-on learning. It's all part of the first-ever "National Lab Day" on Wednesday, kicking off a new national initiative to promote math, science and technology education.

Jack Hidary, National Lab Day chairman, says the United States ranks 25th in the world behind nations like Estonia and Latvia in educating kids in these areas – and changing that is critical to their future.

"It's about jobs. We want our kids to have jobs and, in order to have those jobs, they need to be competitive in terms of skills. Right now, the data tells us that they're not, and what we know works is hands-on learning."

The traditional lecture-based science and math teaching style is simply not reaching all students, says Hidary, who adds Florida is filled with opportunities to discover science by experiencing its ecosystems. The goal, he says, is to train future scientists to find solutions to such issues as the Gulf oil spill and renewable energy – and it starts by bringing together students, their teachers and scientists to work on real-life projects.

"We're just really out there having fun in the park, or we're doing an astronomy night out with astronomers, or at a different kind of museum. These are kinds of activities that kids don't even know they're learning, and procedure-based learning, the kind of learning we give kids today, just isn't cutting the mustard."

Mark Pudlow, spokesman for the Florida Education Association, agrees it is important for teachers to reach out to students in innovative ways.

"It's one thing to have a teacher lecture you; it's another to get in there and do some hands-on work that's a little bit different and kind-of exciting. It helps open up minds, sometimes."

There are about 80 National Lab Day projects scheduled statewide, all designed to get Florida kids out of classrooms and into the field, mentored by professionals who can help them discover that learning science can be fun – and maybe even a good career choice.

Click here to view this story on the Public News Service RSS site and access an audio version of this and other stories: http://www.publicnewsservice.org/index.php?/content/article/13910-1

 0 user(s) rated this page
Login to leave a comment
No Comments yet