Twelve months ago I blogged about my frustrations in teaching maths & science and learners (seemingly) inability to transfer skills from one subject to another.
What I’ve been surprised over is the communication (mostly supportive) between fellow (science) teachers. It seems that the tensions between science – maths is real and that I needed to do something about it.
Diagnosing the “problem”
Historic differences over maths to science teaching fall into a few, clearly defined “trenches”:
- We say “average” you say “mean” –> Resolved. We all say “Mean”
- Do bars in a bar chart touch –> Resolved. We all agree “No”
- Lines of “best fit” - we say “can be curved“, you say “always straight” –> Resolved. We agree to disagree, but put the other point of view forward
- Our graphs “always start at zero”, your graphs can have that “wiggly line” –> Resolved. We can have a wiggly line too
- We re-arrange formula by “dragging things over the equals and swapping signs”, you “do the same to both sides and simplify” –> Resolved. We all “do the same to both sides”
- We only used the “mean”, you use “mode and median as well” –> Resolved. We all use the three measures.
If I’m honest, as a science teacher what we’ve done is to start teaching and using maths more like maths teachers, so that our learners have a unified language across subjects.
The big question however, is “Has all this worked?” and are our leaners transferring skills from one to another.
Sadly, a qualified NO
So midway through January I started to look for resources to build a course specifically to address Scientific Numeracy.
So far I’ve collected ideas on:
- Numbers, fractions, powers, roots
- SI units, scientific notiation
- Area, volumes
- Formula, rearranging, simplifying
- Graphs, straight lines, y=mx+c, curves
- Angles, sin, cos, tan, Pythagoras
- Log10, Loge
- Basic statistics, probability, statistical tests
The plan is to teach this as separate curriculum alongside our Year 10 Btec studies.
What this has exposed is that some of the content would be classed as “Higher” tier maths, whilst for us could be used in foundation style lessons. And as we teach Btec, the distinction between foundation and higher is blurred.
The “Big Picture” is to write this as a text, showing science and maths together in a way that allows Scientific Numeracy to be better developed in schools.
So, do how do you teach scientific numeracy?