Activities for Integrating Math & Science in the Classroom

Instructor: Jennifer Rosenthal

Jen has taught science at the high school and college level and has a doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction in Science Education.

This lesson explores the current trend of integrating math and science instruction into the classroom. We'll also look at various examples of activities you can use to engage K-12 students in learning science and math.

We Are All Scientists and Mathematicians

Although it may be difficult to believe, we are all scientists and mathematicians. Consider the following scenario. You try to turn on your flashlight, and when you press the on switch, nothing happens. What do you do? Well, you might first check to see if there is a battery in the flashlight, or whether or not the battery has been placed in the correct position, or if in fact the battery is working. If you don't find anything wrong with the battery, you might continue checking to see if the light bulb is working in the flashlight, until finally you come up with the conclusion that it was a burned out bulb to blame.

By going through this process, you used what some might consider the scientific method, a linear process that is used to describe the way scientists think. More commonly today we describe this process as an iterative, meaning continuous and cyclical, 'scientific way of thinking.' Scientists try to answer questions that can help us better understand the world that we live in. By asking general and specific questions about why the flashlight was not working, you too were acting like a scientist. Similarly, as we collect precise and repeatable information, or data, we are also acting like mathematicians. One of the roles of mathematicians is to gather and analyze data, similar to scientists.

It is in fact difficult to separate math from science, and one of the current trends in education has merged these fields with engineering and technology. This is referred to as STEM, an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. There are various ways to integrate math and science through practical experiences that incorporate engineering and technology into the classroom. The next section will suggest some specific examples.

Classroom Activities

Incorporating science into the classroom might begin by igniting a sense of wonder by asking students to make close observations. An observation is a way to use your senses to closely examine the world around you.

Elementary School Activities

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