Interdisciplinary Studies Math and Science

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Interdisciplinary Studies Math and Science

FROM THE EDITORS

Growing up as I did, with my reading-obsessed highly gifted older brother, I had the opportunity to pilfer books from his extensive science fiction collection. The world of possibility contained in those books was mind grabbing, and I was soon hooked. Science fiction addresses that wonderful question, “What if?” by taking what we know and integrating it with what could be. This example of integrating “facts,” with possibility, is a dynamic basis for learning. Possibility sparks wonder, which in turn helps ignite interest and enthusiasm. And young learners in particular require enthusiasm to make those wonderful connections and cognitive leaps within and between topics.
At its finest, science fiction blends multiple subjects, including science and history, cultural and civilization issues, the mathematics of space travel—really the list is endless. Intoxicating stuff. Presenting studies in an interdisciplinary fashion so young students are primed for that “power of association” is vital. Yet, all too often our current system presents subject matter as stand-alone topics, which then lose much of their potential is that dynamic interdisciplinary basis for learning. Education is not at its best when subject matter is presented as a singular element with no relationship to any other, particularly for gifted children with their complex minds and often-rapid ability to draw relationships between subjects and seemingly unrelated items. Education should create opportunity to help children develop fully into who they are, and who they will become. The primary purpose should not be for them to memorize facts but to prepare them as best we can, all the while maintaining an interdisciplinary structure to help uphold their natural enthusiasm.
In this issue of the GEC, Carolyn Cooper writes, “Interdisciplinary studies do more than teach about the individual components of the relationship—in this case, math and science; they strengthen the combination itself, creating a new approach to understanding the power of that association.” Robin Schader writes in her Making Connections column, “With such rapid advances in most disciplines, how can we responsibly ready our children for what their future will be? We know, at the very least, it’s going to take nimble, creative, and (to quote Pasteur) prepared minds.” We may not know what the future will bring, but we do know that it’s our responsibility to prepare our bright-minded children through studies that give them ample opportunity for cognitive freedom, personal versatility, and the gift of enthusiastic learning.
In this, our first issue to be published online, we hope to further theintegration of many disciplines through electronic means. As the processevolves, you should expect to find more links and Internet resources in the articles we present; this will make supplementary materials ever more accessible to both educators and parents.
As we begin this online publishing journey of the Gifted Education Communicator, we hope that there are things you especially enjoy. Please bear with us as we work out any kinks. And as always, we welcome your ideas and suggestions for improvement. I can be reached at GECeditor@aol.com.
—Karen Daniels, Managing Editor
We have been planning for many months for this issue focusing on math and science. The topic itself is of great importance, and the fact that one
of the most significant advances of our time—computer science—allows us to publish our first online issue is exciting. We have indeed joined the 21st Century! Our lead feature article is presented by Bill McComas, a longtime friend of gifted education at the University of Southern California who continues his support of gifted learners in his new position at the University of Arkansas. His article, “Educating Science Critics, connoisseurs, and Creators: What Gifted Students Must Know About How Science Functions,” is particularly apt for those planning curriculum for
gifted learners. While applauding the ever-increasing number of science courses available to K–12 learners, he notes a significant concern. “The content that is generally missing from science instruction relates to a discussion of the ways and means by which knowledge is generated and validated, a domain commonly called the ‘nature of science or NOS.” He lays out the significance of the NOS in relation to critics, connoisseurs, and creators as students. And while doing so, he challenges myths regarding the time-honored six-step “scientific method.”
Carolyn Kottmeyer is a regular writer for this journal with her Web Watch column. As the Founder and Director of Hoagies Gifted Education Page, hoagiesgifted.org, we have come to depend on her knowledge of what is available on the Internet for parents and educators of gifted learners—and for gifted kids. Her great love is math and science, and therefore, we asked her to write a feature article this issue, allowing her to go into much more depth than usual. The result is, “Math and Science and the Internet: Exploring Cognito, Smithsonian Institution, NOVA, and Cool Math.” The depth and breadth of Cognito should prove especially helpful to all. Craig Daniels calls himself a “math enthusiast” who lives in Portland, Oregon with two gifted daughters. He has been trained to facilitate “Math Circles” and volunteers at his children’s school to work with kids. He shares the basic process of facilitating math circles as well as an Internet site for you to find a math circle near you. “Connecting Math to the Real World” is presented by Julia Candace Corliss who has worked with gifted students at the Mirman School in Los Angeles for the past
25 years. She presents concrete examples of how teachers can connect theoretical math to kids’ worlds.
The expansion of knowledge regarding the human brain is one of the most exciting advances in the scientific world. Wouldn’t  it be beneficial to teach students just how their own brain functions? Barbara Clark does just that in her article, “Teaching Your Students About Their Brains.” She even provides scripts for both teachers and students in their exploration of brain function. We are introducing a new department in this issue: RtI2 for Gifted Learners: Appropriate Intervention for Gifted Students. One of the many education hats worn by Beth Littrell is that of RtI2
Middle School Facilitator in the San Mateo Foster City School District in California. RtI2 (Response to Instruction and Intervention) is currently being stressed in schools across the nation. But as in many other instances, emphasis is almost exclusively on students struggling in school—not the few “outliers” who have already mastered what is being presented in class. Beth has created a method of applying the guidelines used in RtI2 to make them work for gifted learners. This issue includes the first of a series of articles, all of which will provide specific lessons plans for
classroom use. Appropriately, focus this issue is on math. Best wishes for a great school year. Our Winter issue will be devoted to serving high school gifted students.
—Margaret Gosfield, Acquisitions Editor