Friday, September 23, 2011

Math/Science Partnership

One of the goals for my high school is to develop a math/science partnership to help students make connections between the content areas. The commitment to this goal can be seen in our new building, where math and science classrooms are side by side rather than in different wings, as in a traditional facility. This opens up some unique collaborative opportunities for us since I now have daily access to the biological science teachers and the activities/labs they do in their classrooms.

Enter the AP Environmental Science (APES) teacher. She and I have collaborated before and actually took a week long workshop together last summer in an effort to see where our curriculums collided. Stat has the unique ability to fit in with so many curriculums that I could easily tie into just about any teacher's lesson plans if I truly tried. Anyway, earlier in the week, the APES teacher came to me with a lab she was doing that involved Chi-Square tests. Ultimately, the idea behind her lab was Natural Selection - the ability of a predator to find and kill their prey and the ability of the prey to hide from a predator. Her students had taken 3 types of beans and spread them into two differing habitats (aka the sidewalk and the grass) and recorded which prey was killed in each habitat. They organized the data into a table and that's where the Chi-Square Test came in. Now, I don't get to Chi-Square until April, but I had just finished contingency tables and segmented bar charts, so I was pretty bummed to miss out on such a neat collaborative activity.

Today was test day, so I went over to my APES neighbor and asked her for a copy of a couple of the labs she had mentioned so that I could read over them and jot down notes for next year. During our short chat, she mentioned another lab that she said she would find and bring over to my room. Low and behold if she didn't show up with this map:
With this lab, the students have to count the species of plants to determine the potential environmental impact of the plants. My students have already been through the idea that a census isn't usually practical and is oftentimes inaccurate. We have also discussed the different random sampling methods used to generate data. This lab will let them see a real example of cluster sampling and using that to estimate a population parameter. They will drop the yellow acetate square 10 times, count the various species in the square, find the average of their 10 trials, and then use a conversion factor to estimate the population parameter. The next day, each of my student pairs will get the data for one species, have to display it in both a histogram and boxplot, and then describe the distribution of their species. I'm thinking this will be a great summary of the material we've covered thus far.

If you have any other ideas on how to integrate math and science, please leave it in the comments... We're in the baby steps phase right now, but eager to learn more!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What a great day!

Today was one of those days that you just feel good about. Lessons went smoothly, the a-ha moment happened at just the right time, and kids were engaged.

First off, let me preface this by saying that for the most part, I am enjoying teaching AP Statistics all day long. Sometimes I get into that "Did I already say that?" rut, but overall, it's fun to be sharing my passion for stat with the students. I kind of miss Algebra 2 and I definitely miss collaborating with my Algebra 2 buddies, but after a couple of years where stat got pushed to the back burner, it's great to have the time to really devote to engaging lessons and an active classroom.