Dr. Daniel Barth’s The Maurice Series Exemplifies Common Core Standards

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Using his three-book scifi adventure series The Maurice Series, Dr. Daniel Barth integrates Common Core Standards in teaching science through literature at Southeast High School.

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Most needed to be helped over words like meteorite the first time they encountered them, but they mastered them quickly in the context of the story.

Dr. Daniel Barth, renowned educator and author of The Maurice Series, is gaining recognition as a strong, active advocate for the integration of Common Core Standards in education systems. Mrs. Cathy Seabourne recently invited Dr. Barth to teach her class at Southeast High School, an inner-city high school in Los Angeles. Her students were familiar with Dr. Barth’s books and were eager to meet the author whose books helped them learn science in a fun and engaging way.

Transforming an excerpt from the third book of The Maurice Series, Crisis on the Far Side, into a short story, Dr. Barth sought to teach science through literature, an approach that exemplifies the Common Core Standards. This interdisciplinary approach of merging multiple subject matters into a unified learning experience had profound effects on the students, thereby highlighting the extraordinary potential of Common Core Standards.

The majority of Mrs. Seabourne’s students read far below their grade level. However, they found Dr. Barth’s writing clear and understandable. Dr. Barth was impressed by the students’ diligence in expanding their reading abilities and sounding out words:

“The students read very well; most needed to be helped over words like meteorite the first time they encountered them, but they mastered them quickly in the context of the story.”

Dr. Barth’s lesson that day did not end with just a discussion about the story’s setting, main characters, and the generic topics of an English classroom. Moreover, the lesson continued to further heights. As the reading engaged students to the story, the following science lesson was relevant to what they were reading about. The students themselves participated in a lab activity about meteors called Impactor Adventure!. Students dropped a walnut-sized stone on aluminum pie pans filled with flour to observe the behavior and measure the impact of meteors.

Cheap yet effective, Impactor Adventure! was a huge hit among the students. Dr. Barth recollects, “Instead of seeing students sitting with arms crossed saying ‘I’m not gonna do that!’, I heard cries of ‘Gimme that!’, or, ‘I wanna make a crater now!’, and ‘It’s my turn!’” It was a great sight of active learning where students were actually having fun while learning science.

The excitement surrounding Dr. Barth’s science through literature method began spreading; soon, the AP Physics at Southeast High decided to join the class. Dr. Barth’s science through literature method was tested for its flexibility and educational scope. Although the lesson was geared towards a lower grade level, the AP Physics students found the reading exciting. More interesting was how thoroughly engaged the AP students were with the lab experiment. They analyzed the process and the discussion quickly became mathematical and ranged over geometry, trigonometry, and even calculus.

Dr. Barth’s visit to Southeast High School was a great exhibition on the flexibility and effectiveness of an interdisciplinary approach to teaching. In this specific case, science and literature were combined in a unified and inspiring learning experience. The Common Core Standards foundation is essentially this mixing of subject matters, calling for active participation, and engaging with students in a way that is memorable and performance-driven.

Mrs. Cathy Seabourne has told Dr. Barth that the students are still talking about his visit. Dr. Barth hopes to make another visit to Southeast High School.

Find out more about Dr. Daniel Barth, winner of the Amgen Award for Excellence in Science Teaching.

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