“Environmental science? Me? No way… I am a trained postgraduate math teacher, who is supposed to be handling higher secondary classes… How do you expect me to take classes on environmental science?” This is a common scenario in almost every school staff room. We all seem to think that only science teachers can handle environmental science. But we fail to understand that “Environmental Science” is a life-oriented subject, which we need in our day-to-day life, and that we can learn or teach this subject better outside the classroom than from within. So, how can a mathematics teacher teach environmental science? With a little bit of passion and creativity any teacher can teach the subject they specialized in through environmental science. Here is how.
Imagine that a mathematics teacher wants to teach the angle of elevation. All that she/he has to do is to take the kids out for bird watching. Building on some keen observation, the teacher can teach how to calculate the angle of elevation, the distance between the predator and the prey and also the height of the perch from where the bird swoops down on its prey. The shadow method can be used to find the height of the tree. Hold a stick about two feet in height vertically from the ground and measure the shadow of the stick. If the shadow of the stick is a foot, the ratio is 2:1. Using the shadow of the tree , we can also pinpoint the place where the predator had perched, be it the top most branch or a lower branch. Now by measuring the shadow of the tree, using the ration of the 3:2, it should be easy to find the height of the tree. The next step is to find the distance between the tree and the prey. With these two findings it would be easier to calculate the angle of elevation.
Another example would be to teach the kids to calculate the pattern followed by a honeybee to direct other bees in its hive to the flowers with honey by simply doing a wriggling dance. Remember, bees do not sing or call. They just do a wriggle dance in the direction of the honey. If the wriggles of the bee are short, it means best Three Lane Bungee Run that the honey is closeby. If the wriggles are long the honey is found farther. Their dance is based on the position of the sun (see fig). Their wriggle faces either to the right or left of the sun, depending upon the direction of honey found.
The author is a music teacher at MCC Campus Matriculation School, Chennai. He can be reached at [email protected].