How long is a worm? How could you find out? How many worms would you have to measure before you are sure you know? This simple question can provoke a great deal of thinking. Worms make a great context to investigate mathematical skills in science as students love finding and measuring worms! For those who are a little squeamish you may prefer the jelly worms seen below. For an excellent review of teaching maths in science visit the ASE Mathematics in Science page and download the Language of Mathematics in Science – an excellent summary of some key mathematical concepts used in 11-16 science lessons.
Calculating mean values
GCSE and Key Stage 3 worksheet on calculating means. Students calculate mean values to work out how many worms are in different soil samples. The data includes a clear anomaly and so this exercise guides students to see how using mean values can be problematic when comparing data. The context of this worksheet is looking at the effect of pH on worm number and so could be used when teaching acids and alkalis or separating techniques. (PDF)
Thinking beyond the numbers
Numbers don’t lie. But they can mislead. This simple statistic can provoke a lot of thinking. It is true but misleading. Yes there are more head injuries, but there are less deaths!