Lessons That Matter 

In Science & Math

Student centered lessons catch the imagination of a class, make concepts memorable, and increase test scores.  Below are several examples of lessons we use in our teacher professional development.  Each can be used to teach problem solving, transferable skills, and generate hope and better habits for the future through existing math and science curriculum.

Sample Lessons

Why it matters: This photo was taken from the International Space Station. Wildfires are problems so big they are easily seen from space. In this lesson, we explore the consequences of wildfires on the stream side riparian zone and how invasives like the bamboo Arundo exacerbate the fire problem. 

Math: Writing hypotheses and drawing conclusions based on p-values.

Science: Interactions between native and Invasive species. 

Why it matters: Artificial selection is a tool we can use to improve the match between environments and traits in a changing world. This lesson explores a historical example and delves into the relationship with the normal curve.

Math: Working with the Normal Curve and Probability

Science: Artificial Selection and the Normal Curve

Professional Development  

We are constantly creating new material to reflect changes in our world. These are a few of the lessons we offer in a face-to-face setting. We enjoy tailoring lessons to the workshop location's academic needs, subjects and levels, and environmental concerns. 

Stats with Crocodiles

Why it matters: In a warming world animals like crocodiles must adapt to changes that reverberate through their physiology.

Math: Descriptive statistics, confidence intervals and error bars. 

Science: The relationship between temperature and respiration.

Cover Crops & CO2 Reduction

Why it matters: Reducing CO2 in the atmosphere is a top priority in meeting global challenges.

Why it Matters to Students: Many areas on school campus grounds can be used to explore the benefits of cover crops and ground cover.

Math: Bivariate data and Linear regression

Science: Respiration and photosynthesis

Water Potential and Salinity

Students will use linear regression to determine water potential. Water potential will be used to examine problems with irrigation.

Why it matters: Environmental conditions affect the movement of water and these conditions are changing. Students will look at how soil water loss from drought affects plants and the organisms that depend on them.

Math: Linear regression will be used to analyze lab data for water potential.

Science: Water potential calculations and data interpretation are featured.

Rain, Runoff, and Responsibility

Students will model the cycling of elements and examine the role of runoff in water quality. Descriptive statistics for one variable will be explored.

Why it matters: Students look at real data on bacteria levels in waterways and make decisions based on data analysis.

Math: Water data will be used for descriptive statistics.

Science: This lesson looks at different aspects of movement through an ecosystem. The focus is on nutrient elements and bacteria that are in run-off to waterways.

A sea turtle

Turtle Trouble

Students will look at change in turtle sex ratios as a result of warmer temperatures. 

Why it matters: How do organisms respond to changes in the environment? How is phenotype affected by environmental factors?

Why it Matters to Students: Non-human organisms are being affected by temperature change. Students will consider what steps are necessary and practical to preserve diversity.

Math: Analyze the proof of evidence using proportions, probability, and p-values.

Science: This is an example of the effect of environment on phenotype. 

Coffee in Costa Rica

We uncovered something strange in Costa Rica. Join us for a lesson we developed in the coffee plantations.

Why it matters: This lesson looks at competition between plants and is a jumping off point for an inquiry lesson. Taking it further we look at the future of coffee in a changing world. We can do it better.

Why it Matters to Students: Many are already hooked on the morning caffeine benefits for a sleepy scholar.

Math: Comparing data sets, 2 sample t-tests, justification of a claim using supporting data.  Regression of growth over time.

Science: Community level ecology, experimental design, and supporting biological claims.

Half eaten tray of food.

edible Garbage

One-third of the food we produce on this planet is wasted. 

Why it Matters: Natural resources are compromised to produce unused food, many people go hungry unnecessarily, and we can do better.

Why it Matters to Students: They eat every day. Awareness  can lead to reductions in food waste and resulting planetary benefits.

Math: Data collection, summary statistics such as mean, median, range, standard deviation, one and two variable graphical displays, inference

Science: Macromolecules, energy for cells, energy flow, ecosystem components, collecting data, and analyzing information in graphical displays.  

Squash and jalapeno

Food IS Fuel

What do we eat and how do proteins, carbohydrates, and fats differ in providing fuel? 

Why it Matters: The choices we make and the availability of quality food determines the efficiency of our minds and the health of our bodies, and we can do better. 

Why it Matters to Students: They eat every day and should understand they are fueling their bodies.

Math: Describing and comparing distributions using shape, center, and spread; histograms, boxplots, dotplots, and stemplots

Science: Macromolecules, cellular energy, work with visual displays in biology, making and supporting biological claims.

Butterflies Don't Sweat

Organisms vary in their ability to adapt to climate change. This lesson explores genes in butterflies to explain movement to more favorable areas. 

Why it Matters: The fate of some organisms, with regard to climate adaptation, may depend on pre-existing genetic resiliency. 

Why it Matters to Students: This lesson gives meaningful context to introductory Punnett Square genetics.

Math: Probability.

Science: Punnett squares, ecosystems, heat shock proteins. Claim, evidence, reasoning practice. 

Recycling bins with labels in English and Spanish

Recycle Right

January 2018, China stopped taking U.S. recyclable trash due to the inability of consumers to correctly recycle.

Why it Matters: Proper disposal of trash can save natural resources, reduce future landfill volume, and foster better consumer decisions on the front end, and we can do better.

Why it Matters to Students: They often generate an excessive amount of trash without noticing. Once they become aware, they have the ability to develop habits that directly impact their space.

Math: collecting quantitative data and categorical data, summary statistics such as mean, median, range, standard deviation, one and two variable graphical displays, and more.

Science: Ecosystem disruption, collecting data, and graphical displays. 

Seagull looking out at the ocean.

Ocean Acidification

The pH of the oceans has been changing. Changing the acidity of the oceans impacts life in the seas.

Why it Matters: The ocean plays a critical role in absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. How does absorbing excess carbon dioxide change the pH of the ocean?

Why it Matters to Students: They develop an appreciation of our water resources and the importance of habits that protect them.

Math: Constructing appropriate graphical displays to fit various data sets including categorical and quantitative data. 

Science: Ecosystem disturbance, food chains, differential reproductive success. Using graphical displays to tell the story. 

Bottle caps

A Plastic Problem 

We now purchase over one million plastic water bottles globally every minute.

Why it Matters: The majority of empty bottles are not recycled and often bypass the landfill and head for the ocean. We can do better.

Why it Matters to Students: They drink water most days and are often involved in school events accompanied by cases of water bottles.

Math: Probability at many levels.

Science: Ecosystem disturbance and probability.


A chromosomal display showing regions of the world where chromosomes originated.

Chromosomes and Probability

We analyze and compare genetic material today in different ways, from consumer genetics tests, to paternity tests, to crime data. 

Why it Matters: Citizens should understand the basis of these tests and understand how probability can determine our confidence in these results.

Why it Matters to Students: Students need an understanding of the uniqueness of DNA in humans and other organisms. 

Math: The ability to calculate, apply, and communicate simulation results develops higher level critical thinking and problem solving skills. 

Science: The specificity of information in our DNA is a cornerstone of biology.

Asphalt road with burned trees in the background.

Meltdown Madness

Higher air temperatures create higher pavement temperatures.

Why it Matters: Asphalt temperatures can reach levels that can melt our skin or take the pads off the feet of our four legged friends.

Why it Matters to Students: Roads are part of their everyday world.

Math: 2 sample t-tests, comparing distributions

Science: Ecosystem disturbance.

Westie puppy in the grass.

Short Legged Dogs

Chi Square and dogs. What more does a person need? Don't read about the chi-square distribution, build it.

Why it matters: This lesson integrates the math and science of genetics and statistics. A favorite among our participants.

Why it Matters to Students: They are innately interested in the animals that travel the planet with us.

Math: chi squared distributions and chi square GOF test

Science: Genetics, statistical tests, describing graphical data

Timer, ruler, diffusion cube.

Discovering Diffusion

A boundary crossing lesson. This can be adapted for many levels of math and science.

Why it matters: Movement of molecules in and out of cells seems rather specific, but have you ever considered what this means in terms of pH or temperature variation? 

Why it Matters to Students: They have an opportunity to actually witness how molecules travel and relate this to themselves at the cellular level.

Math: Linear relationships, proportional relationships

Science: Cell size, cell transport, and mathematical analysis.

Set Point

Why it matters: Energy source and energy use is a problem we need to solve .

Why it Matters to Students: Change is hard, but change is critical. What are the recommendations for thermostat setting and what factors influence compliance?

Math: Probability 

Science: Fossil fuel energy use is associated with increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Prairie Dogs

Why it matters: They are a keystone species

Why it Matters to Students: It's important to understand the way an ecosystem can revolve around an organism. 

Math: Probability 

Are you looking for meaningful integrated math and science professional development? 

Contact us at ltm@lessonsthatmatter.org or see the consulting page at the link below.