Organizations that promote hands-on learning

In the upcoming issue of MAKE, we have a feature in which teachers share their favorite classroom and science fair projects. As an additional online resource for this article, we want to compile a list of organizations that promote hands-on learning.

hands on.jpg

Photo from the Museum of Science and Industry website

The Exploratorium, the Museum of Science and Industry, TechShop… these are the sorts of places we want to include. So please help us out! Comment on this post with the name, URL, and location of organizations near you that belong on this list.

66 thoughts on “Organizations that promote hands-on learning


    What I love about this place is all exhibits in the museum promote and encourage kids to “test, crank, listen, prod and tinker” as mentioned on the website.

    I used to go here as during school field trips when I was younger, and now occasionally volunteer my time with the museum.

  2. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is the organization that does Lego League and the FIRST Robotics Competition, both very hands-on.

  3. I can recomend the Centre for Life (, in Newcastle upon Tyne (& host of the first UK Maker Faire) – but I’m probably biased as I work there! For a full list of UK science centres you could visit the British Interactive Group’s site:



  4. One of the best kept secrets right off I-80 in Nebraska. The Edgerton center is a favourite field trip of any kid (and adult) around here. It was founded by Dr. Harold Edgerton who is known as the father of flash photography and developer of the strobe light and side scan sonar.

  5. Operation Catapult. It’s a summer camp at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana. High school juniors spend three weeks on the campus, working on engineering-style projects of their own design. Unfortunately, its expensive and only open to high school juniors in excellent academic standing. Still, its a lot of fun.

  6. MESA (Math, Science, Engineering Achievement) afterschool education programs in 8 states, primarily Title I schools.

    Saturday Academy in Oregon offers a full range of science exploration classes.

    WGBH’s Design Squad television show, the website for which has a host of hands-on activities, engineering and design games, etc.

    WGBH’s new Time to Invent afterschool programs in Boston and Indianapolis.

  7. Here in western North Carolina, there are a few great places that encourage hands on learning:

    Hands On! A Child’s Gallery in Hendersonville, North Carolina.

    The Health Adventure in Asheville, North Carolina.

    Also, don’t overlook some important national organizations that encourage experiential learning, such as the National Association of Rocketry, the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts.

  8. 4-H isn’t anyone one organization but it is instead a nation-wide youth club network that encourages hands on learning and allows the youth to decide what topic areas to pursue. 4-H is organized in each state the the particular states land grant University. For instance, in New York, Cornell University helps fund and structure 4-H offices in each NY county. The offices in turn organize, recruit and support the 4-H youth clubs in the county.

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