Hands-on-Science began as a four-semester integrated science curriculum for undergraduate pre-service elementary teachers at The University of Texas at Austin. The curriculum was developed with the aforementioned goal of incorporating inquiry-based methods into a hands-on learning environment. It is taught using inquiry-based instruction, modeling for future teachers the teaching methods they themselves must employ once they begin teaching. This method is also emphasized by the College of Natural Sciences UTeach program for secondary teacher preparation in science and mathematics. The Hands-on-Science curriculum emphasizes the interconnected nature of all science, bringing together physics, chemistry, geology, biology, and astronomy under the big idea that the flow of energy and cycling of matter are unifying themes through physical and biological systems.
Hands-on-Science has partnered with UTeach Outreach to develop Early Field Experience for pre-service teachers by conducting outreach for children in local schools. We currently host approximately 1000 elementary school students per semester.
Since its inception, Hands-on-Science has evolved into a program that has increased in scope to include professional development for in-service teachers. This component began with a series of content-rich workshops, using the guided inquiry method that is the hallmark of the undergraduate curriculum. Today it has expanded to include a partnership with three local school districts for the creation of a Texas Science Regional Collaborative.