When I was in third grade, my teacher Mrs. Sass gave us a project. It wasn’t just any poster and paper project to prove what we learned… It was a project that I still remember to this day because it was SO ENGAGING! Let me introduce you to my favorite type of teaching, which I like to call an integrated science education.
You see the project that Mrs. Sass cooked up had all the components of an integrated science lesson in it. We were tasked with creating a house that could keep cool in the summer. We had to work collaboratively to build a house (made out of cardboard boxes and other assorted materials) and try to not let an ice cube melt with lamps beating down from above.
Take a peek at the components of the project and why this is integrated science education:
Science topic: thermal energy, material
Technology: Using tools & lamps *May be a reach because in 1998 there wasn’t as much technology as there is today
Engineering: design an insulated house, create schematics and carry it out
Math: document elapsed time, measuring liquids
Did you guess that I was going to say, it was a brilliant STEM activity? I mean it’s definitely memorable if I can think about it over 20 years later and still remember how much fun I had building it.
Why is integrated science education important?
It’s engaging and peaks interest
Building up to the final activity grows student engagement about a project. Using the end goal of designing and making a house, makes the prep work (the reading/writing/planning) all worth it. Students will buy into the research aspect of science more when they know it’s going to be applied to something. It gives accountability to really learn and understand a topic.
Let’s think if you wanted students to learn about thermal energy. Are you going to get buy in from students if they just read about it in a book? Absolutely not, but if you frame it that they are going to research and use what they learned to build their own home (HELLO EAGER RESEARCHERS)! If you’d like a few examples of lessons like this, you should see my Research STEM Bundle on TPT.
Well rounded science education (covering more standards)
Covering multiple topics in a lesson means that you’re crossing more standards off in a single lesson plan. Cross content activities are great for showing your students how these components (science, math, reading, and writing) all work together in the real world.
Let’s look at the details and break them down.
- Learning about non fiction texts and identifying/writing down important information is a reading and writing skill.
- Recording data & tracking elapsed time are math skills.
- Researching thermal energy is not only a disciplinary core idea standard but it also applies to the cross cutting concepts that are prevalent in the NGSS standards
Uses multiple SEPs and CCC (Hello NGSS!)
Although the Next Generation Science Standards weren’t around in 1998, they appeared in this lesson. The science and engineering practices are what scientists/engineers do every day. If you’d like to know more about them see this blog on how to start using the NGSS today.
Having access to an integrated science education is crucial for students to learn science authentically. Next week, I’ll be diving in a bit further on this topic. If you’d like to stay up to date with my Bunch of STEM, add your email to the box below to receive updates!