Science educators have proposed interactive hands-on engagement to enhance science instruction for over 30 years. During the early 90s, hands-on science kits and teacher professional development institutes and programs were implemented across the nation (Roychoudhury & Kahle, 1999; Stohr-Hunt, 1996; Supovitz, Mayers, & Kahle, 2000; Supovitz & Turner, 2000).
However, the use of kits, specifically the refurbishment of consumable items, represented additional costs to school districts. During the hands-on kit based era, the refurbishment process often revealed that few of the items were ever used from the science kits. This observation indicated the limited use of science kits to enhance science instruction. Further, teachers reported that the significant amount of time necessary to set up material centers, distribute manipulatives to students and control the safe handling of certain items served as barriers to science instruction.
Research found that a science kit curriculum requires more professional development investments by school districts than they are able to provide (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000). The typical professional development structures for science teachers in the U.S. are problematic and have a limited impact on teacher practice and student learning (Randi & Zeichner, 2004; Weiss, Banilower, McMahon, & Smith, 2001).
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