I may be biased on this one, but, I really believe that Science is the great ‘connector’ of all subjects. In this new era of common core, we will need to be creative on how we integrate all of the subjects as we teach. I believe that science is the answer as well as the easiest common thread in which to sew together our educational blanket, so to speak.
I think many people can be intimidated when it comes to Science. They might have flashbacks to dissecting a frog in Biology, or calculating moles in Chemistry… that is not science. Science is much more than those memories. However, I think those negative memories can become all-encompassing and people may begin distancing themselves more and more from science due to feeling overwhelmed or intimidated by it. Don’t let science scare you away from incorporating it into your own curriculum. Remember, any subject can be connected to science; it has a place in every classroom. Let’s examine some ways to bring science into your classroom where you are teaching something that you feel more comfortable with:
MUSIC– If you are a music teacher, you have an amazing opportunity to get involved with the teaching of Physics! In the high school and middle school levels (NGSS has brought this into the middle school arena now), standards dictate that students learn about sound waves as part of physics. What a wonderful way to show them how this connects to their everyday lives. You can explain to them how pitch and frequency is determined by the size of the sound waves and thus the size and type of the instrument. I think it would be amazing for them to learn more about the mechanics and science behind these instruments that they love so much. It may even help them to become better musicians as they learn how their various instruments work. If you are talking about sound waves, you could also help them understand how acoustics work and why there are ‘dead’ zones in a space that is not designed properly (or even places where the sound is ‘bad’ due to interfering waves). There are also some fun labs that you can do where you give them simple materials (toilet paper roll, rubber glove, straw, rubber bands etc. and challenge them to design an instrument out of them). I would encourage you to talk to your school’s Physics teacher and ask them if they are interested in working on a cross-curriculum project or mini unit with you (they will probably jump at the opportunity!). Want to know more about the connection between physics and music? Here are some links to help you get started: lessons & explanations, worksheet to go with a fun app, a silly Bill Nye video.
PE– If you teach PE, you also have a great opportunity to each about physics through the connection of physics and body movement as well as sports! Properly understanding body mechanics (physics) can help prevent athletic injuries. Simple machines are a good way to connect this to your students. Our bodies are basically a bunch of levers; we want to make sure that we properly use those levers to lift things (like weights)! You could also go into the physics behind various sports like baseball and how to calculate the speed/force necessary to hit a home run, or calculate the perfect approach to a free throw. Physics is a great way to get them seeing a connection between the sports they love and actually calculating what is happening on the field! Another easy connection for you would be chemistry. In chemistry we learn about chemical reactions and chemical processes–this would be an easy connection to caloric intake and physical fitness. Understanding what nutrients are drained from our body during physical exertion and how to get them back after strenuous activity is a big industry; there are entire jobs in the field of sports medicine dedicated to this and professional athletes pay a lot of money to get personalized tests. These tests figure out the specific elements the athletes body loses when they work out so that they can be sure to replenish exactly what they need! Do you want some information to help you get started? Here you go: Body mechanics explained, the physics of athletics, Physics and sports project, YouTube channel for the Gatorade Sports and Science Institute.
HISTORY– If you teach History, you are in an awesome position to show the significance of science throughout history! You could introduce specific scientists and how they helped to shape our world and various societies throughout history. You could get into the dark ages, and what became of scientists who tried to publicly declare their findings (like how the Earth is not at the center of the solar system), or the alchemists who essentially created the beginnings of chemistry and modern laboratory techniques! The discovery of antibiotics and vaccines and their effect on society and the quality of life. No matter what historical period you are teaching your students about, there are definitely scientists who had a hand in whatever your students are learning. Bring it up, point it out, and help them understand that science does have a place in a classroom other than Science! There are so many interesting connections between Science and History, it would be a waste to not incorporate it more. Want to get started? Here are some links: Alchemy, List of 100 scientists who helped shape History,
ENGLISH– English can be a great way to connect to Science, mainly because the ability to write a sound scientific report is crucial in science! I have my students write full one-page reports after almost every single lab we do. I think it would be wonderful for the Science and English teachers to get together on this. The Science teacher could lead the lab and the lecture on the subject, and the English teacher could help them with writing their report. I personally have a very specific layout I give them for writing up their reports. I even give them sentence starters and examples; but, alas, they still need help. It would be awesome to have their English teachers helping them (I know I am not the only Science teacher who feels this way!). The english teachers could bring their expertise on writing and conveying messages to their pupils in a new context! Now, with the Common Core standards focusing on informational text, what better way to help them to understand how to read informational text then having them write informational text! Here are some resources to help you get started: Writing a proper hypothesis and controlling variables, writing results and conclusions, sentence starters.
MATH– Mathematics and Science are brother and sister. They go hand-in-hand. They belong together, side-by-side. Science teachers and math teachers should be consistently working together. There are so, so many opportunities for collaboration between these two subjects. There, really, is no reason for them not to work together. Assuming both parties are willing to work together, I would suggest starting with something simple: graphing! Graphing is such a huge part of science and math, it is a shame not to conduct this learning practice simultaneously. If possible, I would suggest that the data be collected in the Science class during a lab, then the students can graph the data in their Math class. The lab could even go towards the student’s grade in both classes! If you are both willing (and wanting) to work together, you may want to discuss what type of math concepts are being taught and see if any of it fits into the science curriculum. Algebra fits in nicely with physics, numerators pair well with balancing equations, surface area works well with chemical reactions, metric conversions. etc. There are many connections between the two subjects; if you are willing to put in a little effort, I honestly feel you will make some great progress together!
ART– Historically, scientists often had to also be good artists. Art was a necessary part of the data collection process. If a scientist could not accurately draw a representation of their specimen or observation, the recorded data would suffer (check out these pictures from the Royal Society). I think it would be amazing for the art teacher to show some original drawings that scientists made while collecting data. Then, the students could apply what they learned in Art to their Biology or Earth Science class. They could go on nature walks, etc. and make their own environmental observations and draw their data rather than write it. The Art teacher and Science teacher could even take the students out together and team teach if the opportunity presented itself (now that would be cool!).
FOREIGN LANGUAGE– So many of our historical scientific discoveries were made by non-english speakers. What a wonderful opportunity it would be for students to read the original manuscripts and publications in other languages! This could also serve as a great way to show a scientific side to foreign language and to learn about the actual men and women who’s discoveries and observations contributed to what our world has become today. Teaching French? Teach your students about Marie Curie, Louis Pasteur or Antoine Lavoisier. Do you teach Spanish? Tell about the contributions of Santiago Ramon y Cajal or Michael Servetus. If you teach German, you must discuss Albert Einstein and Johannes Kepler. Does your school offer Chinese? Introduce the famous Chien-Shiung Wu and Chen-Ning Yang. Russian? Ivan Pavlov or Mikhail Lomonosov will get your students attention. Regardless of which scientists you decide to integrate and introduce to your students, it should be really interesting for your students to learn about the notable scientists from other cultures.
With the Common Core being the new approach to teaching, we all need to start finding ways to integrate our subjects and work together to show our students that their education is not a collection of separate subjects, but rather a woven blanket where all parts are necessary and interconnected to one another. What a wonderful way for them to understand that education is not separate from their lives, but part of them.
I hope, for all of my non-Science friends out there, that you feel more confident in your ability to help teach students Science and that you can appreciate that Science has a special connection to the subject that you hold dear.
-The Ardent Teacher
Do you teach a subject that I did not mention in this post? Leave me a comment and I would be happy to give you some ideas on how to integrate Science into your curriculum!
Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/residae/