One of the reasons I enjoy working at Harrisburg Academy is that I work with amazing colleagues.  Since it is a small community, we are able to collaborate easily.

Although I love teaching math, chemistry has a special place in my heart.  I obtained a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Penn State University, and I’m always drawn to the lab.  So when I had the opportunity to work with Upper School chemistry teacher, Denise Hurst, on a cross-curricular lesson, I was thrilled!

In the lab, the students were given four different size rods for 12 specific unmarked materials.  They weighed each rod to determine mass.  Then they found the volume of each rod by determining how much water each rod displaced.  After all the data was collected, the students plotted mass vs. volume and used linear regression to determine the equation of the line (m =density x volume).  This allowed them to determine the density of each of the materials so that they could identify each of the unmarked materials.  They were given a table of the proper name of the material with the actual densities which enabled them to match up the material with the listed density.  Since we learned about variation earlier in the year, they were also asked to state the type of variation which they observed in this real world example.

While earning a master’s degree in teaching and learning mathematics at Drexel, my professor stressed the benefits of cross-curricular teaching.  It provides a mechanism for students to apply and transfer knowledge while increasing their motivation.  When students learn basic concepts in core subject areas, they sometimes struggle to apply the concepts they are learning.  Providing a meaningful way for students to apply the knowledge they learn about linear relations in math through a lab in chemistry helps them think critically about what they are learning.   Students benefit from the cause and effect relationship of completing the lab so that the linear relationship comes alive!

When students are actively engaged in learning, they are more motivated to learn.

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