by Gisele Glosser
|I have always been
fascinated by connections between math and other disciplines. From
my experience, students are more motivated to learn math when these
connections are made in the classroom. This article is devoted to
connecting math with other disciplines (science, social studies,
etc.) and with the real world. It includes teaching ideas as well as links to related resources.
Students can examine the binary number system.
They can look at the relationship between base 2 numbers and how computer circuitry was
developed. The history of computers can be studied from the invention of the ENIAC through
today's wireless devices. For example, my
Unit on Symbolic
Logic provides an excellent framework for computer circuitry. When I taught an electronics
class at a NY City high school in 1990, I presented lessons on
Boolean logic and circuitry. Specifically, I gave a lesson on gates
such as AND, OR, NAND, and XOR.
The math teacher can teach students about
exponential notation. Once students become proficient in reading and writing numbers in
exponential form, and in converting numbers between exponential, factor,
and standard form, they can apply this knowledge to topics in
science. For example, they can write the distance between the sun
and each planet using scientific notation. For advanced students,
you can teach them about negative exponents. Then they can explore the half-life of
certain radioactive elements, or the size of bacteria and viruses.
Try our WebQuest
on Exponents and Scientific Notation.
Explore many scientific facts, such as the boiling and freezing point of
liquids, the melting and freezing points of solids, and the temperature of
planets, in my
WebQuest on Integers and Science.
Have you been to the playground lately? You'll find many connections between
algebra, science, and the real world in our article entitled
Why Learn Algebra?
Math and Social
After teaching a
Unit on Graphing, you can
have your students apply these skills to topics in Social Studies.
For example, they can draw bar graphs to compare the Population, Per
Capita Income, and Population Density of various countries. For
other connections between math and social studies, try on
Unit on Integers.
Students can compute the percent win-loss of games
played by their favorite sports teams. They can find data on teams in their school, or
they can find data for professional teams online and in the newspapers. You can bring this
activity into the computer lab by placing all the data in a spreadsheet. A formula can be
used to compute the percent win-loss. Try our interactive lessons on
Then Explore Win-Loss Percentage, Graphing Data for Olympics and Super Bowls,
Batting Average and ERA, and the NBA Draft Lottery with my
Webquests on Math and Sports. You can also play my
unique Integer Football Game.
Math and Technology
There are two main approaches to to addressing technology in
the math classroom. You can integrate math and technology,
making these topics the object of instruction. For example, round-off error is
described below. You can also use technology to
facilitate math learning. For example, the use of an iPod, an
interactive whiteboard, or other devices, as described on our
Math and Technology
If you divide the numerator of a fraction by its
denominator, and the result is a repeating decimal, your calculator will not
display the results with 100% accuracy. This is because repeating
decimals have an infinite number of digits and calculators can only
compute to a finite number of digits. This phenomenon, known as
error, also applies to computers. You can use this topic to integrate math and technology in your
classroom. Students will marvel at the way different calculators and
computers display varying results when they
experiment with fractions such as 2/3, 5/6 or 8/9. Read our creative
teaching idea entitled: Repeating
Decimals and The Monster That Wouldn’t Die.
One of the things stressed by standardized tests
is the ability to answer open-ended questions. Typically, students are asked to provide
written explanations for solutions to math problems. This assesses their ability to express their mathematical ideas in
written form. To help them prepare for these types of questions, I do a math project that
involves writing. I ask students to answer several open-ended questions using full
sentences. The math teacher can grade students based on the mathematical correctness of
their responses. The Language Arts or English Teacher can grade them on spelling and
grammar. Some sample questions are provided in our Classroom
Activities and Project Ideas for
Students can also answer the questions in our
WebQuest using full sentences.
Percentages and the Consumer
I have nine lessons on
covering sale price, discount, interest, commission, sales tax and percent
change. Students can also try my interactive
Loan Calculator. My
WebQuest on Percent in Daily Life is another good resource for making
connections. For printable resources, try my
|Find more ideas on
connecting math with other subjects on The Math
You will also find classroom activities and career connections.