Where’s the Maths in That? – Maths across the curriculum
Where's the Maths in That? explores how mathematics can be embedded into other subjects in the context of the new curriculum. The subject in this series is science where we will explore the different themes for the KS1 and KS2 science programmes of study and how maths can be embedded in and enhance understanding of scientific ideas. You can find previous features in this series here
In this edition we look at the theme of Evolution and inheritance for Y6 and how a scheme of work for this might incorporate mathematical skills.
The statutory requirements are that children are taught to:
- recognise that living things have changed over time and that fossils provide information about living things that inhabited the Earth millions of years ago
- recognise that living things produce offspring of the same kind, but normally offspring vary and are not identical to their parents
- identify how animals and plants are adapted to suit their environment in different ways and that adaptation may lead to evolution.
Below are some suggestions for how mathematical skills and thinking can be incorporated into this unit of work
Invite pupils to compare themselves to their biological parents (if this is appropriate to do so). Identify similarities and differences that might have been inherited from each parent. Which physical characteristics can you/can’t you inherit from your parents (e.g. hair length is a choice). This activity could also be done by comparing biological siblings to compare characteristics that have been inherited from both parents.
Ask pupils to sort themselves into two groups, then into another pair of sub-group. How many groups now? Now sub-group again. Invite pupils to consider in each group how they can now subdivide. This activity then enables them to see that everyone is unique because they may vary by one or more characteristics. This activity will develop further their ideas of variation and diversity.
Investigate and comparing the measurements of different parts of the pupils’ bodies and the ratios between two body parts. The ratios between the same two body parts in each person will be roughly the same. Pupils can then explore whether a play doll (e.g. Barbie) is built in proportion to a human body.
Knowing ratios of body parts can also enable you to calculate approximations of unknown measurement. Can you estimate how tall someone might be based on the length of their feet? Forearm? Femur? Link this then to the work of palaeontologists and how they have been able to estimate the heights of different types of dinosaurs.
Use the World Wildlife Fund endangered species page to transfer the data about population of different endangered animals to a bar chart. Pupils will need to choose an appropriate scale on which to plot the data.
An interesting problem solved by Italian mathematician Fibonacci was about the reproduction rate of rabbits in a year, if a pair of adult rabbits (two-months old or more) reproduced another pair of rabbits every month. You can view this problem in the NRICH article, Fibonacci's Three Wishes.
- National STEM Centre eLibrary - Evolution and inheritance.