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Does the material include activities that provide firsthand experiences with phenomena when practical or provide students with a vicarious sense of the phenomena when not practical?

Explanation. Scientists construct and use scientific knowledge to describe, explain, predict, and design real-world objects, systems, or events. Therefore, scientific ideas need to be connected to pieces of the real world. Students can learn more readily about things that are tangible and accessible to their senses. Thus students, especially younger students, will benefit most from firsthand experiences with the objects, systems, or events to which the scientific knowledge refers.

Providing students with some firsthand experiences (hands-on activities or demonstrations) is important, provided that such experiences are practical. However, it is neither necessary nor optimal that all experiences provided be firsthand. For example, once students have had some firsthand experience with designing a system that turned out to have side effects, providing them with examples of other systems that turned out to have side effects via pictures, videos, or text would probably be adequate. If all experiences provided to students were firsthand, it would limit the number of examples that could be provided. Moreover, students should not be asked to reason only about phenomena they see firsthand, when in real life they will also encounter phenomena indirectly.

When firsthand experiences are not practical (for example, providing firsthand experiences with the eruption of volcanoes), students can encounter phenomena indirectly, through the use of videos or photographs. However, these indirect experiences do need to provide students with a vicarious sense of the phenomena.

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