Kids performing poorly on hands-on science lab tasks

MONKEY SEES, CAN'T REALLY DO: Kids may be able to recite facts from their science classes but when it comes to getting their hands dirty in labs, they struggle to put that to use. The latest study released by the NAEP, "Science in Action," asked fourth, eighth, and twelfth graders to take paper tests; the students then were observed as they worked with hands-on lab materials and computer interactive lab simulations. Tasks included estimating seed travel and manipulating electrical circuits; experiment details can be found in full PDF report. The 2,000 students at each grade level performed fairly well when it came to making basic observations on limited sets of data. Problems demanding that they juggle multiple variables or make strategic decisions seemed to perplex many: Even when they got the right answer, few students could explain why. Here's another puzzle: the data for this study was collected in 2009. Why did it take a long three years' to publish? Just askin.'

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