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Integrating science and math

By Mary Bigelow

Posted on 2007-12-30

Science Scope cover, December 2007Mathematics and science seem like natural partners when designing interdisciplinary lessons or units. This issue of Science Scope has some suggestions for making these lessons authentic and purposeful, integrating science with geometry, scaling, graphing, and other mathematical concepts.
Along with this issue, you can review the October issue of Science and Children for more articles on this topic that have ideas that are appropriate or adaptable for middle school students. The blog posting for that issue describes an outstanding graphing website that is suitable for all ages.
For even more ideas for integrating mathematics and science, log into SciLinks and enter the code “SC120701” for a list of websites. I saw a few that looked particularly interesting:

  • Planet Quest is a set of activities that involved measurement. This is a PDF document, so you can download it and use them offline. As a bonus, the activities are structured as cooperative learning activities, with a description of roles and expectations.
  • Science is not the only subject in which research is conducted. The National Science Foundation has an overview of research in mathematics.
  • Along with the activities in the article “Making and Measuring a Model of a Salt Marsh,” you could use the activities downloaded from Tidepool Math. These guide students through the processes of observation and estimation.

The “Issues In-Depth” article – Making Some Bones About It – is an excellent review of the skeletal system. Even though I’ve taught units on the skeletal system, it was an enjoyable read, and it’s important to keep our own content knowledge up-to-date. As a follow-up, go to the SciLinks site and enter “bones” or “muscles” as keywords to get lists of websites with more background information and classroom activities. You can also check out this month’s edition of The Science Teacher for an article that describes a classroom activity “Modeling Muscles.” This could easily be adapted for middle school students!

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