Review by Melissa Powers, Common Sense Education | Updated December 2017

Math Science Music

Thoughtful tools teach STEM skills through music and creativity

Subjects & skills
Subjects
  • Arts
  • Math
  • Science

Skills
  • Creativity
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
3–12
Common Sense says (See details)
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Not yet reviewed

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Pros: Interdisciplinary design boosts STEM and musical skills at the same time. Win-win.

Cons: Nontraditional site navigation without a menu and search function can make it difficult to locate resources.

Bottom Line: Limited but quality content gives STEM teachers a new toolset for fostering engagement and understanding.

For starters, Math Science Music is a great resource for music teachers looking for engaging tools to teach music theory and appreciation. The music cognition resources could also be an advocacy tool for music teachers trying to gather administrative support for their program. However, if it's only music teachers who are using this resource, then the Math Science Music initiative is failing at its mission. The framework of this website, teaching STEM through music, makes this resource unique. Ideally math and science teachers will use this site to help them teach their standards, using music to show some real-world applications of mathematical or scientific concepts.

Math Science Music also gives teachers the tools to collaborate across disciplines. For example, the Groove Pizza is a unique tool for creating percussion loops. Working together, the math teacher can teach students about shapes, angles, and patterns while the music teacher can help students create rhythm tracks for different musical styles.

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Math Science Music is a website that offers lesson plans, videos, games, apps, and other interactive learning materials designed to teach math and science through music. An initiative of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, the site provides teachers with this free toolkit. Examples of topics and activities include combining jazz and coding with Scratch, deconstructing a song to its separate instruments to engage with fractions and algebra concepts, and creating tunes using shapes and angles. The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz is developing the overall curriculum, but most of the content is created by partnering universities. Math Science Music launched in 2016 with plans to continue rolling out curriculum and content as it's developed.

Math Science Music is a work in progress and moving in the right direction. It's not a complete curriculum yet, but the resources that are ready are excellent. The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz has partnered with organizations that have been developing creative learning materials for years, like MIT's Media Lab (Scratch) and NYU's MusEDLab. The tools aren't necessarily new, but the mindset is a little different. Instead of arguing "hey, where's the A in STEM?," the Math Science Music initiative is saying that STEM skills are very important, so let's use music to help teach them. Like the name suggests, this is a worthwhile resource for math, science, and music teachers. If you feel a little intimidated by the interdisciplinary content, go visit the expert down the hall and start collaborating!

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

The interactive music-making activities take STEM from the abstract to the "this matters to me" reality.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Top mathematicians, neuroscientists, engineers, musicians, and educators are working together to help students understand the connections between these disciplines.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Most content is located on other websites, creating an inconsistent user experience.


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