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Learning Physics and Math: An Aesthetic Approach

Author: Moses B. Jackson


Overbrook High School

Year: 2007

Seminar: Physics in the Arts

Grade Level: 10

Keywords: 10th grade, 9th grade, Art, arts, create, dance, discover, explore, high school math, Math, Music, physics, think

School Subject(s): Arts, Dance, Math, Music, Physics, Science, Visual Art

Many students who come to our classrooms have other interests far from what is taught, especially in physics and math, which involve manipulation of numbers, symbols, and analyses of concepts. Because of this situation, as a high school math teacher, I have included in this four-week curriculum unit simple pedagogical strategies and hands-on activities related to the teaching of math and physics to 9th and 10th graders. The unit focuses on how to teach students physics and math while incorporating their interests in music, dance, and other artistic pursuits. Hopefully, they will have fun as they learn.

Activities in the unit are designed to reinforce students’ abilities to think, explore, discover and create, in order to expel their phobias and stereotypes about science. The students will be empowered to demonstrate how science and math impact daily life but will not have to relinquish their innate aesthetic intelligence: they will do science and still be the artists, rappers, poets, movie stars and dancers they crave to be.

The unit has a threefold focus: math, physics, and the arts. The aspect of math in the unit is intended to strengthen students who have difficulties or fear in dealing with formulas, numbers, and to improve their basic skills. Because math is the foundation of the sciences, it is presented in the unit as a means to an end. The aspect of physics, which is the core, is intended to expose students to the inseparable bond between physics and their immediate surroundings. The aesthetic aspect deals with the introduction and synthesis of intrinsic abilities, entertainment and science. It is intended for students to have fun in the arts while they learn physics and math.

The unit fulfills the requirement of the School District of Philadelphia’s Math and Science Core Curriculum for 9th and 10th graders and will utilize concepts of patterns as a basic teaching tool. 1 We will utilize hands on pedagogy, by using music rhythm to discover and appreciate patterns, introducing the prevalence of physics in the daily physical world, and helping students take cognizance of forces acting around them. The National Council for Teachers of Mathematics Standard (NCTM 1998) sets the purpose of patterns, functions and algebra in mathematics education at all grade levels.

Mathematics instructional programs should include attention to patterns, functions, symbols, and models so that all students can have various options in problem solving.

Download Unit: 07.06.05.pdf

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