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Sunday, May 12, 2019

How music and movement can help kids understand maths | ICT - Horizon

Researchers want to break down ‘arbitrary barriers’ between science and art, summarizes Richard Gray, Horizon Magazine.

A new way of teaching known as STEAM is breaking down the barriers between science, technology, engineering, art and maths. 
Photo: Laura Taverna/ Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia
Staring at rows of numbers or formulas on a page can be off-putting for many children studying mathematics or science in school. But music, drawing and even body movement are providing promising new ways of teaching complex subjects to youngsters.

The thrum of a violin string or beat of a drum might at first appear to have little to do with physics, fractions or angles. Indeed, science and artistic subjects like music have traditionally been treated entirely separately in education.

But researchers believe breaking down the arbitrary barriers between science and art could help pupils grasp tricky concepts more easily. It is leading to a new way of teaching that aims to combine science, technology, engineering, arts and maths, collectively known as STEAM.

‘We are trying to make this STEAM learning approach known to the educational community,’ said Dr Vassilis Katsouros from the Athena Research Centre's Institute for Language and Speech Processing in Athens, Greece, and coordinator of a project called iMuSciCA. ‘When you bring people together from the arts and STEM subjects, they can work together to have very creative ideas.’

This sort of interdisciplinary collaboration is increasingly common at university level and in industry, often leading to exciting new developments in technology, science and art. Dr Katsouros and his colleagues are hoping to introduce this way of thinking at an earlier stage...

Wave theory
The iMuSciCA project is using music to teach secondary school children about difficult concepts like wave theory in physics and equations in mathematics. Students design a virtual musical instrument on a computer, where they can alter its physical properties to understand how that impacts the sound it produces...

Initial tests in primary schools in Italy, Ireland and the UK by the WeDraw team saw more than 200 children try the games in 10 different classes. In each, half a class used the multi-sensory games for 15 minutes every day for a week as part of their lessons and the other half were taught using a simplified version of the game that used traditional visual techniques.

‘We are seeing improvement in most of the children,’ said Dr Gori. ‘For the Spaceshape game, for example, we saw an understanding of shape and 3D movement.’

Source: Horizon