Is it easier to understand electrical circuits by "playing" with batteries, bulbs, leads and ammeters or by modeling it by walking around the room?
If I am honest I think that I wouldn't teach one without the other. I believe that it is important for students to "see" the science for themselves, even if there is an easier way to explain it.
Last week we investigated circuits and revised the concepts students should have come across in year 7. This didn't go as well as I would like: new plan needed!
Today I decided to introduce models to the students instead.
I felt that the students grasped the ideas better. But they did have the "real" experiences from the previous lesson to back up the ideas I was giving them.
At the end of the lesson I asked the group to look at other models. I was impressed with how they managed the task, however their written explanations require work. That's next!