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Merits of Hands-on Learning

September 8, 2020

By: Amber Carlin-Mishkin and JoEllen Schuleman

Despite the uncertainties that the Coronavirus brings, one thing is certain — summer is coming to an end. This means a new school year is upon us and soon students will be going back to school. Education has been top-of-mind more than ever. Will students learn remotely or in a blended situation? In both cases, many fear students will utilize more technology than ever before. 

Perhaps, though, this moment in our history provides an opportunity to think differently about education. Will there be more learning outdoors and with hands-on (albeit personal) tools? If we are inventive, perhaps we will find we don’t need to simply replicate the regular school day on a screen.

Allow us to explain by example — Do you remember the first time you planted a seed and watched it grow? How about eating a homegrown tomato? By engaging in these experiences, one is offered a visceral sensitivity and imprint. In order to ignite similarly magical and transformative experiences in a child, teachers use hands-on, experiential learning. 

Programs like NY Sun Works have historically given students both the freedom and responsibility to learn through experience, rather than through simply reading or watching something on a screen. Researchers have long reported that hands-on learning increases motivation, creates opportunities for retention, builds social emotional skills, activates lots of brain connections, expands critical thinking, and provides real life preparation.

This year, we believe partners like NY Sun Works will provide the pivotal push that will inspire students to rush back to their learning experiences day after day. Students will both witness growth and grow within themselves as they critically develop decisions on what to do next (add more nutrients?) in order to receive the outcome they are personally striving to obtain (a harvest they can enjoy!). 

In short, rather than staying engulfed in technology-driven education, hands-on learning with NY Sun Works hydroponics is the key we need as educators who aim to inspire students to love learning and engage with the real world.


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