A cross-curricular approach to learning is an effective way to introduce students to multiple subjects and help them build critical thinking skills.
An effective cross-curricular learning activity will have students apply various skills while also learning about real-world applications. TGR EDU: Explore, a program from TGR Foundation and Discovery Education, offers free trans-disciplinary resources to teachers.
Teachers, consider the following example lessons and take note of how each makes a connection between students, careers and the world. Use these (or similar) activities to maintain instruction through a trans-disciplinary approach.
Life Science, Mathematics and STEM
Lesson: Entomology Explorations
Students will walk through the classification and collection of insects, where life science and STEM both play a role. Your class will learn about citizen science projects and experience how they can be powerful tools in helping scientists and entomologists answer important questions revolving insect populations around the world.
How does this connect to…
- Scientists have discovered that the populations of many species of bees in the United States are in rapid decline. By teaching students about the ecological importance of bees and other insects, and by introducing them to citizen science projects that they can be a part of, students will have the opportunity to use scientific inquiry to contribute to ongoing scientific studies on insects that live in their own backyards.
- Entomologists in all branches of the military—Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines—protect troops from attack by insect pests, especially ones transmitting infectious diseases.
- Molecular Geneticists at agricultural companies develop disease-resistant crops and livestock. Some provide forensic analysis for law enforcement agencies. Forensic Entomologists focus on insects that colonize in human tissue in postmortem situations.
- Forensic entomology involves estimating the age of insects developing on human remains; specifically, it involves estimating the time of colonization or time when eggs or larvae are deposited on the remains and the time elapsed since insect activity began.
- Formulation Chemists design and develop new crop protection products. This includes developing fertilizers, soil conditioners and pest control methods.
- Agronomists advise farmers, research firms, government agencies and environmental organizations on soil and land management, nutrient and water needs, pest control and minimizing environmental impact.
- Insects in their native habitats are key pieces to a healthy ecosystem. They function as pollinators and food sources for many other species.
- Insects can also decimate other species when they become invasive—when they are introduced into a new habitat by humans. It is important that students have an understanding of both of these aspects of the global impact of insects.
- Just as other species do, humans depend on insects for many of the food products we consume every day and the balance in natural areas that we enjoy.
English Language Arts, Life Science and STEM
Lesson: Magnetic Migration
In a lesson that incorporates English Language Arts, Life Science and STEM, Magnetic Migration has students work together to investigate the claim that animals use Earth’s magnetic field to navigate.
How does this connect to…
- No matter our age, we have a responsibility to take care of our planet. Climate change is beginning to affect many aspects of life on Earth, including animal migration as animals seek more ideal living conditions in different areas.
- It’s the responsibility of all generations to take care of the Earth through strategies like conserving energy, recycling, using green transportation methods and eating less meat in order to leave the smallest footprint possible.
- Zoologists study animal species and are involved in a range of animal-related work, including conducting research, analyzing data, educating the public, ensuring animal welfare and leading conservation efforts.
- Geographic Information Specialists analyze data such as satellite images that they obtain from geographic information systems. From this data, they may create maps of geographic areas, analyze it for scientific purposes and/or track wildlife.
- Electrical Engineers design, develop and test electronic equipment such as radar and navigation systems. It’s important for them to understand how magnetism and electromagnetic forces work and use that to design everything from trains and medical equipment, to the Mars rover and GPS!
- Earth’s magnetic poles have switched repeatedly over hundreds of millions of years, each time reversing Earth’s magnetic field.
- Living things rely on the magnetic field that surrounds Earth. It protects us from ultraviolet radiation, helps us tell direction and animals use it as a natural compass.
- As the planet warms and animals adapt, their behavior around the world is changing. For this reason, they grow increasingly important to track. Birds, for instance, are laying eggs earlier and migrating sooner.
- Animals in general are shifting slowly towards the poles in search of cooler weather. While some moves may be seen as positive (a new breed of fish in Europe for example), shifts also have the potential to cause larger problems and it is important that people around the world keep an eye on migratory patterns.
College and career readiness through cross-curricular instruction
While COVID-19 has changed instruction for school districts nationwide, the importance of college and career readiness remains. Designed to support students in preparing for college and the workforce, TGR EDU: Explore equips teachers with digital resources at no-cost. I implore you to use these, and any other resources at your disposal to help students develop problem-solving and decision-making skills with real-world applications.
It’s rare that a college or career path would be siloed to one subject area – so why do it in the classroom? Take a chance on trans-disciplinary instruction, your students will thank you!
Find additional college and career readiness resources on the TGR EDU: Explore Channel in Discovery Education Experience!