Cross Curricular Links - Numeracy
The benefits of linking mathematics with design and technology
The advantages of linking the two subjects are readily apparent for pupils and teachers.
The nature of mathematics
By exploring the nature of mathematics in more detail, the value of the links between the two subjects should become clearer.
An important application of mathematics is its role in problem-solving. Many authors have given an explanation of the role of mathematics in the process of problem solving in terms of a cycle.
Creating a model
A representation of the situation is created. It could be a scale plan of the outline of the classroom on a sheet of paper with smaller card shapes representing the furniture. In other situations, the model does not have to be physical, it could be a mathematical equation.
Analysing the model
This involves manipulation of the model to produce possible solutions. Here this would involve arranging the shapes representing the furniture and checking whether all pupils would see the board from their tables and whether there would be enough room for adequate movement around the room. If the model created had been an equation, this stage would involve solving the equation.
Interpreting the solution
This involves looking at the mathematical solution in the previous stage and making sense of it in the ‘real’ situation. Trying it out which may reveal further problems with the arrangement, causing the problem solving cycle to run again.
Mathematical skills involved in the problem solving cycle
These can be classified as being either technical or strategic.
It is fairly obvious to see where technical skills from mathematics can be used in the designing and making process: measuring the length of materials when making a model, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division when costing materials for a project, and so on. There is equally a significant place for the use of strategic skills, from mathematics, in the designing and making process for example, as pupils generate ideas, plan or make decisions.
A difficulty in mathematics is that pupils do not have many real opportunities through which to practise and to develop their mathematical skills. Even the ‘problem’ situations pupils are given can be quite contrived and simplistic compared to the solving of real problems. This can lead to them failing to develop the strategic thinking skills that they require and even to think that mathematics is not of great use outside of mathematics lessons.