Teaching maths in a science classroom

“Why are we doing a maths lesson in science block?”

It was a pretty good question actually for the first lesson of the new school year. The simple answer is that I mostly teach science and have two maths classes.

Why am I teaching maths too? I wanted to teach maths as well as science because I see them as so interlinked as to be inseparable. In my prior life as a research scientist I used mathematical modelling to describe biological processes and I taught industrial scientists how to use maths to analyse their data and get a greater understanding from it. I also taught medical and vet students how to use mathematical ideas to predict suitable drug dosing regimens and how to understand from the data where the drug was going in the body and how long it was staying there. I am fascinated by how people “see” maths and the emotions they connect with it that sometimes stop them from being able to use it. It’s been really interesting going back to early secondary school maths and thinking about how children learn.

Teaching maths in a science classroom holds a lot of opportunities. First of all there is a lot more space and I can get the pupils moving around more easily. We use role play quite a bit in science lessons and it’ll be interesting to see how much of that I can incorporate into maths. This week when we’ve been working on directed numbers we’ve been walking back and forth in the middle of the room – one way to indicate positive and the other to indicate negative. Does it help? Not sure at the moment but I hope that it helps me when I start talking about vectors and scalars in physics lessons.

Having the space around the room means I have been able to put up whiteboard plastic roll in strategic locations so that pupils can work together on problems and we can see their working from further away in the room.

If anyone has other ideas of how to take most advantage of the space please do write in the comments.

 

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About JennyAKoenig

I specialise in science education and communication. Projects have included maths education for bioscientists, study skills for scientists with specific learning difficulties and pharmacology: bringing the science behind how medicines work (or don't!) to a wider audience. I have a PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Cambridge and a BSc (Hons 1) from the University of Sydney. Until Sept 2015 I divided my time between my science education and communication consultancy Science ETC (see www.sci-etc.co.uk) and teaching at Lucy Cavendish College (where I was a Fellow). I am now a secondary science and maths teacher.
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