Skip to main content

Light, Forces, Sticks, Crates and So Much More: A Loose Parts Learning Approach to STEM

Science and Children—July/August 2024 (Volume 61, Issue 4)

By Carla Gull, Suzanne Levenson Goldstein, Tricia Rosengarten

The use of loose parts can be an effective teaching method to improve and enhance student understanding of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Loose parts can inspire children to use their creativity and critical thinking skills in the classroom, which encourages them to embrace science curriculum and connections to standards at any age. Students learn most readily and positively in a laboratory type environment, where they can experiment, create, invent, appreciate, and find out things for themselves (Nicholson, 1971). Children should be encouraged to be part of the experiment, not just listening at their desk, or watching on the sidelines. This article outlines the theory, associated research, principles, benefits, and developing a loose parts mindset, with examples of light exploration, magnetic games, forces loose parts learning lab, and nest building using natural materials. Loose parts can be applied to most educational topics and content, making it a universal learning tool, putting students at the center of their education.

Learning Progression Physical Science STEM Teaching Strategies Elementary

Asset 2