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To effectively teach science in the elementary classroom, pre-service K-8 teachers need a basic understanding of the underlying concepts of physics, which demand a strong foundation in mathematics. Unfortunately, the depth of mathematics understanding of prospective elementary teachers has been a growing and serious concern for several decades. To overcome this challenge, a two-pronged attack was used in this study. First. students in mathematics courses were coupled with physical science courses by linking registration to ensure co-requisites were taken. This alone improved passing rates. Secondly, an energy conservation project was introduced in both classes that intimately tied the theoretical mathematics base knowledge to problems in physical science, energy efficiency, and household economics. These connections made the mathematics highly relevant to the students and improved both their theoretical understanding and their grades. Together, the two approaches of tying mathematics to physical science and applying mathematical skills to solving energy efficiency problems have shown to be extremely effective at improving student performance. This five-year study not only exhibited record improvements in student performance, but also can be easily replicated at other institutions experiencing similar challenges in training pre-service elementary school teachers.





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