What qualifies as "real" science? What makes an experience "hands on?" If one requirement for an authentic, hands on laboratory experience is the scientist's physical manipulation of equipment, then many actual scientists may need to revise their resume!
The astronomer that gathers data by satellite, the biostatistician that relies on interpreting public health data, the astrophysicist analyzing data gathered remotely by the Large Hadron Collider, are they "real" scientists? Of course they are! Even though many scientists in these fields and others do little in the way of handling laboratory equipment, nobody would seriously argue that they aren't scientists.
Furthermore, education research shows that interactive video is effective, even when compared to apparatus-based learning. Under controlled conditions, students who use a curriculum based on interactive video showed significantly greater learning gains on science-process critical thinking skills even when compared to integrated hands-on learning. See more on our summary of the research for interactive video as well as this peer-reviewed paper published in Physical Review Physics Education Research.
Borrowing language from College Board:
A hands-on laboratory experience is one in which students manipulate, observe, explore, and think about science using concrete materials...For the purpose of the AP Course Audit, the College Board considers a virtual lab to be an interactive experience during which students observe and manipulate computer-generated objects, data, or phenomena in order to fulfill the learning objectives of a laboratory experience. These objectives include, but are not limited to, generating and exploring answers to experimental questions, drawing and evaluating conclusions, and thinking and communicating effectively about science.
Much like these aforementioned scientists, students using Pivot Interactives are gathering data from observing and manipulating interactive videos of real experiments, not simulations or "computer-generated objects." Students are expected to gather data in an accurate and efficient manner, as if they were manipulating the equipment themselves, as well as how to analyze and interpret that data to draw sound, evidence-based conclusions.