Organizations that promote hands-on learning

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

  1. Pat says:

    One of my favorites has always been COSI in Columbus, OH.

  2. frenzy says:

    Bay Area Kids Discovery Museum:

    i used to go there all the time when i was younger.

    and in berkeley

  3. neko68k says:


    1701 Mountain Rd NW
    Albuquerque, NM 87104-1396
    (505) 224-8300

    Last time I was there with the kiddo we made silly putty and green slime, a good time was had by all.

  4. Richard says:

    Possibly the best children’s museum anywhere. Lots of stuff to touch, a large water table on the top floor, digging for dino bones, etc.

  5. Lisa says:

    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.

  6. Ev Quink says:

    This place has the coolest art and technology classes for kids:

  7. Emily says:

    One of my favorite museums to go to is the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, down the street from the Children’s Discovery Museum. Definitely a hands-on museum!

  8. Ben says:

    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.

  9. Ed says: The camp focuses on astronomy and physics. It is located in Idyllwild, CA. The camp runs programs during the school year for field trips, and also runs a summer camp program.

  10. Isaac Laughlin says:

    Iridescent is a Los Angeles area non-profit that trains engineers to develop curricula based on their research and present it to underserved groups in LA.

  11. Peter Kropf says:

    There’s also!

  12. Bill Doorley says:

    Pittsburgh is fortunate to have two hands-on institutions:

    The Pittsburgh Children’s Museum completed a major expansion recently:

    The Carnegie Science Center:

    Both are on Pittsburgh’s North Side.

  13. Phil says: is a project based school in San Diego, CA that promotes hands on learning throughout its curriculum.

  14. AndyL says:

    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:



  15. Mark says:

    Texas’ premier technology museum – 50 miles SW of Houston
    20th Century Technology Museum
    231 S. Fulton St.
    Wharton, Texas

  16. Nina says:

    There’s also the UK’s national children’s museum, Eureka! in Halifax, West Yorkshire

  17. Dave Ansell says:

    A couple of UK based projects (which I have to admit I am involved with):

    Cambridge Hands On Science – students taking hands on experiments to schools town halls etc. There are demonstrator resources in the demonstrators section of the site.

    The Naked Scientists – science radio and podcast with a large Kitchen (and Garage) Science section.

  18. Melia says:

    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.

  19. Gilberti says:

    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.

  20. Kyle says:

    I did this in middle school way back when. It’s like poor man’s Space Camp (or perhaps I should say not rich man’s space camp). Located in Alamogordo, New Mexico (close to White Sands).

  21. Mateo says:

    Pacific Science Center in Seattle rules!!

  22. PyroPenguin says:

    A fun, hands-on museum for all ages.

  23. Jill Tucker says:

    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.

  24. James Hutchby says:

    We’ve been running hands-on electronics workshops for kids for over 10 years now in the UK and elsewhere.


  25. Thomas says:

    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.

  26. Jenny says:

    Winchester, UK. Lots of hands-on exhibits, workshops and shows.

  27. -SLN- says:

    Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh, NC

    and the incredibly badass Museum of Life & Science in Durham, NC (home of one of the TechShops)

    as well as, to some degree, the Scrap Exchange (also in Durham, NC), which has regular hands-on workshops and encourages creative reuse in general.

  28. C says:

    Science City in Kansas City, MO is an interactive day of fun!

  29. phinneus says:

    9,000 square foot facility of hands-on training and makerspace for industrial arts, robotics & mechatronics, neon, woodworking and more.

  30. Jamie says:

    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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