Tennessee math teachers went back to the classroom this month to learn creative and engaging ways to connect mathematics with biology, led by the NIMBioS Education and Outreach team.
NIMBioS Associate Director for Education and Outreach Suzanne Lenhart, Education and Outreach Coordinator Kelly Sturner, and undergraduate intern Virginia Parkman traveled to Jacksboro Middle School in Campbell County, TN, yesterday to lead a one-day workshop for 23 area elementary and middle-school math teachers. The workshop was part of a longer Tennessee Department of Education “Math Counts II” Workshop.
The NIMBioS team organized and presented interactive applications of math for grades 3-8, covering modeling, measurement and applications of geometry and array-thinking. Grades 3-5 teachers designed how cages might be arranged in different arrays in an animal shelter to minimize the spread of canine distemper virus. Grades 6-8 teachers learned how Alexander’s Formula is used to model how fast dinosaurs could move based on their stride length, determined from fossilized footprints, and based on their hip height, determined from fossilized bones. The teachers then took on the role of pretending to be bipedal dinosaurs and performed trials by running outside and measuring hip heights. They compared their data to what Alexander’s formula would predict.
In early June, Lenhart and Sturner traveled to Campbell County High School in Jacksboro, TN, for two days as a part of a longer workshop for high school math teachers called “Connecting Math and STEM Through Modeling.” Seventeen math teachers from Campbell County and surrounding counties participated in exercises designed to improve teachers’ understanding of math modeling in the real world. Using resources from Moody’s Mega Math Challenge, Lenhart and Sturner presented the steps involved in using real-world data to generate a modeling equation. Teachers worked in groups and then presented their own model solutions and shared how they might do simple modeling cases with their students.
The workshops were supported by two different grants to Lynn Hodge, associate professor of math education at UT-Knoxville, and Gale Stanley, a retired Campbell County science teacher and currently president of the Tennessee Science Teacher’s Association.