What is the BioMath Connection (BMC) Project?
BMC was a pioneering project linking biology and mathematics in the high schools. It provided an opportunity for high school teachers, writers, researchers, and others to get in on the ground floor of developing innovative classroom materials. The materials consist of 20 modules that can be flexibly adapted for use in a variety of courses at a variety of grade levels in both biology and mathematics. The project was run by DIMACS at Rutgers University in collaboration with the Consortium for Mathematics and its Applications (COMAP) and Colorado State University (CSU).
Most people think of humans as being separate from the environment and when they think about ecology it is usually the ecology of some nonhuman ecosystem. This unit helps students see themselves, and humans in general, as intimately connected to the environment. It introduces the ecology of humans as a topic in its own right. This focuses on both the human dependence on the environment and the human impact on the environment's ongoing capacity to meet the needs of our world's people. To better understand human impact on the environment, basic mathematics is used to quantify ecological impact. Ecological footprinting is developed as a tool for assessing human impact and as a decision-making tool. This unit deepens students' awareness of the human role in environmental crises, and enables them to make more informed decisions about their behaviors and their environmental impacts. Although the mathematics is basic, students gain profound insights from consideration of simple ratios and proportions and working with conversion factors. Finally, their work with the ecology of humans prepares them to understand similar issues in other ecologies, and for connecting humans with the environment. The central concept of footprinting is a simple but surprising one with profound implications for human society.
Biology: Ecology of humans and ecological footprinting, ecosystems, the biosphere, resources, and carrying capacity, interactions among individual, population, community, and ecosystem levels.
Mathematics: Dimensional analysis, units of measure, ratios and proportions, elementary mathematical modeling, interpreting models.
Biology: Basic ideas about the environment, animals' survival needs, population growth, and natural resources; awareness of the carbon cycle and photosynthesis.
Mathematics: Pre-algebra coursework including the use of variables and formulas; unit analysis.
This unit consists of 5 lessons and 1 optional extension lesson and will take 6-7 class periods (45 minutes each).