Like most teachers, I spent my summer relaxing with a little reading and even some work thrown in there. In one of the many articles I read, the author asserted that math was the language of science. I thought about this for a while, especially as I was preparing to enter a new classroom with a dual purpose this fall.
After two years of Upper School math, I feel incredibly fortunate to be teaching 6th grade math and science. As the only instructor of this curricula, I have the flexibility to focus on topics I find interesting, and intertwine the two courses as much or as little as I please. I opted for the former.
September in the 6th grade was a whirlwind. We began our study of math with ratios and ratio tables, then dove headfirst into simple machines in science. My students were beside themselves when they realized that the mechanical advantage of simple machines can be described as a ratio between distance and weight. It was mind blowing to them when they discovered that they could balance levers using unlike weights. They were more impressed when they understood that if they knew one weight, and the distance of both weights from the fulcrum, that they could determine the unknown mass.
A few weeks into school, the girls were pulling out their homework at the beginning of class one day, and one of the girls exclaimed, “Ms. Blakelock, I was so confused last night; I was doing the post lab questions, but I had to ask myself, ‘am I doing my math homework or my science homework?’ and then I realized that it’s like math and science are almost the same thing.”
This off-hand comment encapsulates one of my best teacher moments. My students – on their own – decided that math and science go hand-in-hand. They have continued to see the connection between these two disciplines, learning about and calculating gear ratios, by utilizing their recently acquired fraction and mixed numbers skills. They used their knowledge of division and fractions to calculate and compare the velocity of themselves and their peers running across a grass field. With any luck, they will spend the rest of their science careers noticing all of the places that math and science intertwine.