Integrated learning of history with science

Is it possible to learn a context in history while incorporating science or any other subject to it? Can the design-based thinking and problem based learning help in memorizing an event in history along with the details of science in it? The answer is yes, and the following section justifies the answer.

A group of teachers decided to incorporate design thinking and problem-based learning by making the students work in groups to analyze an event from history. The lesson from history-“pilgrims’ journey to America in Mayflower”- was used as the contest to incorporate science and math into it. The students were asked to design a new boat that would overcome all the problems quoted in history. Divided into the groups, the students brainstormed to develop a sturdy ship that could withstand any storm, pirates, overcrowding, or any leakages.

During the design thinking process, the students understood the concepts of buoyancy, how wind and shapes of boats could be a hindrance for the sailing and the working of different parts of the ship. After the design, thinking stage, each group was provided with materials like cardboard, foam, duct tape, tin foil etc. to build the prototypes of their boats. The kids during the prototyping stage kept in mind the various aspects like size, shape, and placement of sails. After the model was ready, the rain gutters were filled with water and fans placed to test the speed of the designed boats. Marbles that represented the weight of the passengers and cargo were added to the boats to check the load handling capacity.

The overall experiment did a great job of making the kids understand the context in history as well as the various concepts of science. The integrated learning might be time consuming, but the impact it makes on children is lifelong


Learning Math through stories

“Why do we need to learn this?” is the question that springs up in kids’ minds when they sit to solve a math problem. Well, the question not only arises among the kids, but it is also equally resonated within the math-hating crowd of adults. This article presents an experiment by a trigonometry teacher who successfully eliminated the fear of math among the kids.

The whole experiment began with the teacher reading out one of the Chris Ferrier’s Baby university series that explained the necessity of breaking down a complex problem to simple ones that even a baby can understand. The kids were divided into groups and were given a math problem they were struggling to solve. The group members were encouraged to ask questions and get clarifications so that the ideas became simpler. After a series of discussions and revisions, the children wrote down their understanding. They were then encouraged to create short books using cardstocks and colour pencils.

The activity as a whole was exciting to kids, as they got a new perspective of understanding math problems. Another task given to the kids was to connect the story problems in their textbook to form a bigger story. The experiment was found to be fruitful because kids began enjoying problem-solving as they had applied their perspectives to it. They felt connected with the story problem and thereby increasing their motivation to solve the questions.


Applying computational thinking across the curriculum

Computational thinking is one of the ways to solve problems, design systems, and understand human behaviours by integrating a few concepts of computer science. Following are the four computational skills that can be applied to a student’s curriculum.

  • Algorithmic thinking

Algorithmic thinking is a way of achieving the desired output by following a series of well-defined steps. Be it recreating a piece of art by identifying and plotting the coordinate pairs on a plane or practising the Punnett square algorithm to create an endless generation of children; the students need to communicate and interpret clear instructions for reliable output.

  • Decomposition

Breaking down a complicated problem into its smaller components and working on a single element at a time is an excellent way of gaining in-depth knowledge about a topic. Dissecting the American criminal justice system and identifying better solutions for a fair and balanced system activity inculcates deep analytical thinking among the students.

  • Abstraction

Identifying what is essential and stripping away unnecessary details is an excellent way of reducing the complexity of a problem. Abstraction can also mean representing a system with a simple model or visualization. For example, the human anatomy study can be visualized as 3D amusement parks based on the body and the organ system functioning as rides can be helpful in a deeper understanding of the concepts.

  • Pattern recognition

Students can utilize the information gotten from pattern recognition by analyzing trends in data and using those data to work out a solution. Science students can gather data about different real-time seismic activities and identify how the pattern of clustered seismic activity is the result of tectonic plate movements.

Computational thinking is already applied to the curriculum in different ways, like STEM learning and project-based learning. Giving the technique a computer term can connect students well with the studies.