The Math-Science Connection
Curriculum standards for science and mathematics are closely related, as they both deal with understanding the physical world. Both content areas rely on a similar problem-solving approach and tools such as observation, comparison, measurement, and communication. Even some big ideas are the same: change (function), systems, and classification (Gurganus, Janas, & Schmitt, 1995).
In young children’s activities, it is difficult to separate mathlike and sciencelike enterprises because children are exploring and trying to make sense of their world. Children engaged in sorting, describing, building, and experimenting with objects are preparing for more formal mathematics and science activities in school. Teachers of young children should guide these activities so that language skills and concept development grow and expand beyond incidental learning.
Several curriculum projects for elementary and secondary students encourage the integration of mathematics and science lessons. One example is the AIMS Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the teaching and learning of math and science through an integrated approach. The AIMS (Activities Integrating Mathematics & Science) Foundation creates hands-on, standards-based activities and curricula and supports those with professional development and other resources. Another is the professional organization American Association for the Advancement of Science, dedicated to advancing science and technology throughout the world. Among its twenty-four sections are specific organizations on mathematics, engineering, education, linguistics, statistics, and social sciences. In addition to Science, the largest peer-reviewed journal in the world, AAAS supports research such as the middle-school mathematics textbook project, a science-news website, and many other publications and initiatives.
Here's an example of the integration of mathematics and science standard. Ninth- and tenth-graders were questioned on the use and recovery of fossil fuels and impact on the environment, with the mathematics standards relating to data analysis and functions. In this activity, both mathematics and science standards appropriate for ninth grade were addressed, processes and methods maintained fidelity to both fields, and the topic for study was relevant for a real-world investigation.
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