It is acknowledged that tools help with the "perception" of knowledge. The magnifying glass, the telescope, and the microscope were objects that opened up an entirely new world. It is also acknowledged that people's fingers are too big to examine an amoeba, and people can't just walk up to the moon.
The other biggie in the knowledge game was "the drawing", the recording of information, but further to this was the "sequential" recording of data, which led to time lapse photography, movies, and slow motion.
Manipulating the recording of information through time helped us to perceive an entirely new frontier which led to more ideas such as; that the perception of time is not a "hands on" concept. Understanding the concept of time means the use of imagination, leading to planning, critical thinking, and so on.
As a sidebar, animators use "time" to communicate the behavior of objects and materials. Think about this concept for a while... it's also why I wrote my book "Animating STEM" ...LOL
Much of our world has a "virtual" or imaginary aspect to it however, hands-on gives context. This is all part of the learning, verification and assimilation process.
Whether hands-on or not.... I think one of the best lines in "Return of the Jedi" was when Darth Vader, in his last gasps of life asked his son Luke to take the mask off.... Luke was concerned that if he did so Darth/Anakin would die.... Darth said "I want to see you with my own eyes...."
Message? Hmmm if there is one (of many) ....
Knowledge and technology are one thing, but you still need the "human" connection and contact to truly grasp the universe.....