Mathematical literacy implies the capacity to apply mathematical knowledge to various and context-related problems in a functional, flexible and practical way. Improving mathematical literacy requires a learning environment that stimulates students cognitively as well as allowing them to collect practical experiences through connections with the real world. In order to achieve this, students should be confronted with many different facets of reality. They should be given the opportunity to participate in carrying out experiments, to be exposed to verbal argumentative discussions and to be involved in model-building activities.
This leads to the idea of integrating science into maths education. Two sequences of lessons were developed and tried out at the University of Education Schwäbisch Gmünd integrating scientific topics and methods into maths lessons at German secondary schools. The results show that the scientific activities and their connection with reality led to well-based discussions. The connection between the phenomenon and the model remained remarkably close during the entire series of lessons. At present the sequences of lessons are integrated in the European ScienceMath project, a joint project between universities and schools in Denmark, Finland, Slovenia and Germany (see www.sciencemath.ph-gmuend.de).
Thilo Höfer and Astrid Beckmann have written an article that was recently published in ZDM. The article is entitled Supporting mathematical literacy: examples from a cross-curricular project. Here is the abstract: