An interdisciplinary learning approach is an effective way to introduce students to multiple subjects and Help them develop critical thinking skills.
In an effective cross-disciplinary learning activity, students will use different skills while learning about real-world applications. TGR EDU: Discover, a program of the TGR Foundation and Discovery Education, offers teachers free transdisciplinary resources.
Teachers, look at the following sample lessons and note how each connects students, careers, and the world. Use these (or similar) activities to maintain teaching through a transdisciplinary approach.
Life sciences, mathematics and STEM
Lesson: Entomology explorations
Students will go through insect classification and collection, with both life sciences and STEM playing a role. Your class will learn about civil science projects and how they can help scientists and entomologists answer important questions about insect populations around the world.
How does that connect with …
- Scientists have found that the populations of many bee species are declining rapidly in the United States. By teaching students about the environmental importance of bees and other insects and introducing them to civic projects that they can participate in, students have the opportunity to use scientific research to contribute to ongoing scientific studies on insects that live in their country own backyards.
- Entomologists in all branches of the military – Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines – protect troops from insect pest attacks, especially those that transmit infectious diseases.
- Molecular geneticists in agricultural companies develop disease-resistant plants and animals. Some offer forensic analysis for law enforcement agencies. Forensic entomologists focus on insects that settle in human tissue in postmortem situations.
- Forensic entomology estimates the age of insects that develop on human remains. In particular, the time of colonization or the time that eggs or larvae are deposited on the remains and the time that has passed since insect activity began are estimated.
- Formulation chemists design and develop new crop protection products. This includes the development of fertilizers, soil conditioners and pest control methods.
- Agronomists advise farmers, research companies, government agencies and environmental organizations with regard to soil and land management, nutrient and water requirements, pest control and minimizing environmental impacts.
- Insects in their natural habitats are key elements for a healthy ecosystem. They act as pollinators and food sources for many other species.
- Insects can also decimate other species if they become invasive – if humans introduce them into a new habitat. It is important that students understand both aspects of the global effects of insects.
- Just like other species, humans rely on insects for many of the foods we consume daily and the balance in natural areas we enjoy.
English Language Arts, Life Science and STEM
Lesson: Magnetic migration
In a lesson that includes English Language Arts, Life Science and STEM, Magnetic Migration, allows students to work together to investigate the claim that animals use the Earth’s magnetic field for navigation.
How does that connect with …
- Regardless of our age, we have a responsibility to look after our planet. Climate change is beginning to affect many aspects of life on Earth, including animal migration, as animals in different areas are looking for more ideal living conditions.
- It is the responsibility of all generations to look after the earth through strategies such as energy saving, recycling, environmentally friendly transport methods and less meat in order to leave the smallest possible footprint.
- Zoologists examine animal species and are involved in a number of animal-related work, including research, data analysis, public education, animal welfare and leading conservation efforts.
- Geographic information specialists analyze data, such as satellite images, that they receive from geographic information systems. From this data, they can create maps of geographic areas, analyze them for scientific purposes, and / or track wildlife.
- Electrical engineers design, develop and test electronic devices such as radar and navigation systems. It is important for them to understand how magnetism and electromagnetic forces work, and to design everything from trains and medical devices to Mars rovers and GPS!
- The Earth’s magnetic poles have repeatedly switched over hundreds of millions of years, reversing the Earth’s magnetic field each time.
- Living beings rely on the magnetic field that surrounds the earth. It protects us from ultraviolet radiation, helps us to determine the direction, and animals use it as a natural compass.
- As the planet warms up and animals adapt, their behavior changes around the world. Because of this, it is becoming increasingly important to track them. For example, birds lay eggs earlier and migrate earlier.
- Animals generally move slowly towards the poles to seek cooler weather. While some movements can be seen as positive (e.g. a new fish breed in Europe), shifts can also cause major problems, and it is important that people around the world keep an eye on migration patterns.
College and career readiness through interdisciplinary teaching
While COVID-19 has changed teaching for school districts across the country, the importance of college and career readiness remains. TGR EDU: Explore was developed to help students prepare for college and the workforce. It provides teachers with digital resources free of charge. I ask you to use this and all other available resources to help students develop problem-solving and decision-making skills with real-world applications.
It is rare that a college or career path is limited to one subject area – so why in the classroom? Take the chance of transdisciplinary teaching, your students will thank you!
Additional resources for college and career readiness can be found on the TGR EDU: Explore the canal in Discovery Education Experience!
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