Experiential Learning blending Mathematics and Individuals and Societies

Interdisciplinary Units or “IDUs” allow students to experience the weaving together the content of two different subject courses in a manner that integrates the disciplinary knowledge in new and creative ways. Recently, MYP-5 students had a 4-day experience of looking at maps and navigation through the lenses of both Mathematics and Individual and Societies (I&S).

Students learnt cartography (the art of creating maps) and explored the history of maps during different eras. Navigation was explored using compass bearings, which gave students real time exposure to this type of learning. This experience through discussions and a variety of activities gave an opportunity to develop their critical thinking, collaborating, and communicating with t peers and helped them develop social, thinking and decision-making skills. Some of the students’ thoughts about their experience are as follows:

Chloe B.

We all enjoyed learning about maps through this integrated Unit. I&S was interesting since we learned the history of map creation. We also looked at Google Maps and how maps have evolved over the years.  We reflected on why people would make maps and the type of Maps which are used other than Google Maps which have become so common these days. Math activities were interactive where we all got to move around. In Mathematics we got to work in groups and draw on the floor to understand the topic better which was fun. Seeing the same topic from different perspectives was an enriching experience. The teachers did a nice job to make sure that we had fun and learned at the same time. 

Description of the activities:

Using a real compass – During this activity we used a compass to navigate ourselves to different positions in the classroom and then create a scale map using bearings and distances measured.

Error calculation if bearing goes wrong by 5 degrees – For this activity we drew a 14 feet line on the floor and then drew another line from the starting point at an angle of 5 degrees. It was alarming to see visually how that little error can lead to major difference in reaching the destination during navigation. Applying cosine rule helped us compare our measured distance with the calculated distance.

Creating best route – As our formative and our last lesson we were given a hypothetical situation in pairs, and we had to find the best route that gets us from Sydney to Broken hills while also visiting some places. We required considering the cost, travel time and possible modes of transport. We used bearings and distance from real map to create a scale drawing of our route. Thus, having Mathematical justification to select the best route.

Ishaan & Avaneesh

In Humanities, we were introduced to cartography and its significance. We learnt about different types of maps and which map projection is the most relevant. It was interesting to see how imagination and exploration lead to such wide varieties in Maps. In Mathematics we learnt about navigation through understanding bearings and how to use them in a real-life scenario. We conducted two very interesting activities about how miscalculations can lead to errors in real-life scenarios like the navigation of ships.

We, as a group of five students, walked from a starting point to the ending point using a compass and traced that map on paper with appropriate bearing and distances measured. This helped us understand how the best routes are created and what are some of the elements involved in cartography. Overall, this was an enriching experience.

Shefali Grover, Head of Mathematics