How Music and Movement Can Help Kids Understand Math



The EU Research & Innovation Magazine

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 strum 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 math, collectively known as STEAM.


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.


“If they change the metal that a string is made of then the way the string vibrates and the waveform of the sound it produces is different,” explained Dr. Katsouros. “The students can see how the density of the material affects the sound and see the sound wave it produces. It can help them understand concepts like frequency and amplitude.” …


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