Should Mathematics Be Included in Chemistry?

Feb 19, 2020

The Role of Mathematics in Chemistry: A Critical Examination

The debate between excluding mathematics in science and including it in science classes is becoming more prevalent as students specialize in high school based on their current interests.

There are several curriculums being advertised that “brag” about the exclusion of math in their programs. Because I am an “old-school” chemistry teacher, I have had to take a step back and really consider the validity of these curriculums.  The idea that math can be taken out of the physical sciences like physics and chemistry seems odd to me, but I understand the angle and desire to include the “non-math” students. By its very nature, chemistry is a detailed science, and numbers make it possible to determine quantities and formulas.  I believe that both math and problem solving are critical for young people to learn and understand.  The non-math curriculums that I have come across would make excellent enrichment programs for a struggling student, but taking away mathematics is doing students a disservice, in my opinion.  The main focus of several chapters in the non-math curriculum is kitchen chemistry, an idea which I love.  But isn’t there math involved in measuring and making sure that you have the correct amount of each, especially the ingredients that your recipe cannot do without?  And what if you need to double or cut your recipe in half? Isn’t that mathematics and problem solving by nature?

I understand the feeling of the reluctant student (referred to as non-math or non-science students) because I didn’t always do well in every subject or class that I needed to complete.  Why not embrace a happy medium that blends both the numerical aspects of chemistry and the descriptive, non-math portions together to make a complete curriculum?  This is what I strive to accomplish in my science courses by blending chemistry with the everyday to encourage all of the learners that I am blessed to encounter in my classrooms (in person or on-line).

I strongly believe that we need to encourage students to battle through subjects that might not be their favorite or might not exemplify their strengths so that they know how to deal with set-backs and adversity.  I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up until much later than most; therefore, I took as many different classes/subjects as I could so that I would be well-rounded and prepared for what life and God had in store for me.

Is my student ready for high school Chemistry? Click HERE for a Readiness Checklist.

Need a fun, virtual field trip? Check out the Manhattan Project Electronic Field Trip on Tuesday, February 4, 2020.   Click HERE for more information and to register for the event.

Kerrie Childress has a love for science that she desires to pass along to every student she teaches. She graduated in 1996 with a B.S. in Biology and Chemistry from Bob Jones University and in 2001 with a M.A. in Health and Exercise Science from Furman University.  She has over 15 years of teaching experience in 3 states and several different platforms. Kerrie is also currently teaching on-line for a local community college as well as teaching science classes at Excelsior Classes.

The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the author and should not be taken to represent the views of Excelsior Classes, LLC or the consortium of teachers.