Why math in a science curriculum?

Photograph of two students looking at a pan balance.

Students frequently (and naturally) use mathematics in their Inquiry Project work. They learn to measure weight and volume using a variety of methods and use their measurements as evidence to support their explanations. With a firm grasp of measure of weight and volume, students are now able to build mental models of matter and density that will help them understand the particulate nature of matter. Students learn to use their measurements and emerging models of matter to understand what changes and what stays the same when matter changes state, is reshaped, divided, heated, and mixed.

Students build an intuitive sense of scale of space/volume, weight, and density that will later assist them in developing a particulate model of matter. Moving from macroscopic to microscopic thinking requires the ability to construct mental models. Students who gain a strong understanding of quantities of volume, weight, and density through observation, measurement, and modeling are poised to understand quantities and phenomena at a scale that they cannot observe.