adj. Relating to something that requires concentration and an elevated level of mental activity.
Also Seen As
"The kids are so excited to use the kits, every day they say, 'Are we going to do labs today,'" she said. "They're excited about science."

That excitement can help the students remember and retain the information that will help them later, said Marcia Adams, science coordinator for the district.

"Inquiry-based science, minds-on and hands-on, engages the students," Ms. Adams said. "It allows kids to associate experiments, and they're not just memorizing facts. "When you do science, you learn science; you don't memorize science," Ms. Adams said.
—Toya Lynn Stewart, “Science kits creep into classes,” The Dallas Morning News, September 26, 2002
1988 (earliest)
The Du Page Children's Museum was conceived by a group of early childhood education professionals and a variety of interested people who recognized the need for a geographically convenient place where youngsters could explore hands-on, minds-on devices.
—“Du Page children's museum offers a 'place to discover' in Elmhusrt,” Chicago Tribune, October 02, 1988
Today's term is the mental analogue of hands-on, a term that is surprisingly new, having only entered the language in the late 1960s. The correspondence is a good one, though it's imperfect since minds-on can only refer to things that engage multiple people (since most of us have only one mind). Perhaps that's why you never see minds-on alone; it's always paired with hands-on. In many of the more well-rounded activities, a third adjective appears: hearts-on (1993), which describes things that engage the emotions or that engender compassion.

Many thanks to subscriber Oscar L. Spraggon for alerting me to this phrase.
Filed Under