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How the math department at Northbridge has embraced the importance of interdisciplinary units

Kohulan Jeganathan
Kohulan Jeganathan (9 posts) Math Curriculum Leader, DP and MYP Mathematics Teacher, and DP Chemistry Teacher View Profile

In recent years, including at Northbridge International School Cambodia, education has seen a trend in moving away from the traditional subject specific classroom tasks and assessments and into a more interdisciplinary approach to learning. 

An interdisciplinary unit (IDU) is one of the distinct components of the IB middle years programme (MYP). When students are exposed to an IDU, they are asked to explore a common theme by integrating 2 different subjects. This enhances their opportunity to transfer skills across subjects and work collaboratively to solve real world problems. 

Even though Northbridge students continue to learn different concepts through the lens of specific subjects, they are encouraged to make connections across different disciplines to better understand the world around them.

The math department at Northbridge has embraced the importance of IDUs and has linked them to their criteria C & D assignments, which are centered around, inquiry driven, project based learning. Over the past academic year students in grade 6, 7 and 10 have developed projects that have incorporated elements of art, design and math. Here are some of the highlights from each of these IDUs. 

Grade 6 Math

Grade 6 math students are developing probability games off of the concept of carnival style games. This was an interdisciplinary unit between math and design subjects. Students were asked to develop an original probability based game, and look at the aesthetics of the game through the design cycle, in order for their target audience to be interested in playing their game.

At the same time students needed to ensure that their game was fair by applying the probability rules they have learned throughout their probability unit in mathematics. This was a very exciting unit for students and one in which they enjoyed working through with Mr. Mustak and Ms. Nanni who are their math and design teachers respectively.

Northbridge International School Cambodia - Maths

Grade 7 Math

In grade 7, students explored the beauty of shapes by developing stained glass windows using their understanding of patterns and tessellations. In this IDU with design and math, students were asked to design stained glass windows using the geometric shapes they have developed throughout the geometry and shapes unit in math.  The complexity of different patterns and the artistry of tessellations were explored in this short but creative interdisciplinary unit.

Northbridge International School Cambodia - Maths

Grade 10 Math

Grade 10 math students are currently working on their IDU with design where they explore different mathematical functions and develop animations on DESMOS.

Students first designed a public service announcement centered around the COVID-19 pandemic, and were told to develop a storyboard on how their video would look. Afterwards, they used their understanding of different mathematical functions and drew the animations according to their storyboard on the graphical software programme desmos.

This is a very challenging activity that asks our math students to put together all their accumulated mathematical skills together to develop these complex functions. Below is an example of an animation from previous years.