This paper is an in depth study that provides findings that do support the promotion of hands-on science at the middle school level. It is divided up into 6 chapters and it provides an excellent reference list on this subject that should be useful to PIs.
"From the late 1950s through today, hands-on science has been promoted as a method of science instruction. Currently, recent national science reform efforts seek to temper its role. However, no consensus has been reached on the relationship of hands-on science to student achievement though this topic has been researched since the turn of the 20th century using various methods. To improve upon the literature, this work addresses three major limitations of past research- the lack of data on performance assessments of student achievement, the need to control for factors affecting both hands-on science and test scores, and the potential for a differential relationship by student ability."