This study aimed to discover the implications of using different teaching approaches for a hands-on STEAM activity for junior high school students’ STEAM knowledge, creativity, and handson performance. The teaching contents used in the study were designed based on the project-based learning (PBL) strategy and the cognitive–affective interaction model (CAIM). The students’ learning outcomes were tested through a hands-on activity with the theme of electric boat creation. PBL with the CAIM was the strategy used to implement the hands-on STEAM activity and to achieve the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4). In this study, a quasi-experimental design was used for 10 weeks, and the 366 students who participated in the experiment were divided into experimental groups (EGs, 199 students using PBL with the CAIM) and control groups (CGs, 167 students using PBL only). Through the analysis of covariance, the results showed that students in the EGs achieved higher academic performance in terms of STEAM knowledge, creativity, and hands-on performance. The study also found that the hands-on STEAM activity had a positive effect on creativity for students in the EGs, allowing them to develop different modes of thinking in the processes of designing and producing the finished product, which in turn enhanced the innovativeness of their products and solutions. In addition, using PBL with the CAIM in the handson STEAM activity brought about positive learning outcomes and creative abilities for the students, achieving the SDG 4 objectives. Moreover, the outcomes of this study are in line with the current international trend in the development of education, providing reference examples for the future development of STEAM activities and teaching materials at the junior high school level.
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