Math is essential for our young learners. In STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics), math is essential as it unites several pieces. Math is a vital building block for science, technology, engineering, and Art. Incorporating math with these other disciplines is very important for effective STEAM learning. Learning to use math in STEAM effectively can be a great asset for students and teachers. This article will explore the different ways to incorporate math into lesson plans and discuss how higher education approaches real-world problems with mathematics. With these tips, educators and institutions alike can help create a better future by developing a solid foundation of math skills in young people.
What Is STEAM?
In recent years, the academic world has come to recognize the importance of STEAM education in developing well-rounded and innovative students. By combining Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics into one unified teaching approach, STEAM offers various engaging activities that stimulate creative and analytical thinking. Through various STEAM activities, students are better equipped to address real-world problems and stay ahead of rapidly changing technologies.
STEAM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics. STEAM learning combines two or more disciplines into one lesson for students. By combining two of these disciplines, students see how they are interconnected and how all of their learning builds off of other things they learn. Using STEAM, we show our students that it is okay and encourage them to be good at more than one thing.
Perhaps you’ve heard of STEM education, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, but STEAM is new to you. These disciplines are closely related and easily linked. The “A” for Art was added to the acronym to make STEM become STEAM so that students are given permission to think outside the box. They are encouraged to be creative and artistic and think about their learning differently.
As our students and children play, grow, and learn, they explore, engage, and build theories about the world around them. This is what STEAM is all about.
The “M” In STEAM
Mathematics, which claims the “M” in STEAM, is perhaps the first building block we begin with in STEAM education. Mathematics is one of the first things we learn, even as small children. Babies also learn geometry and spatial awareness the first time they hold something in their hand or put it in their mouth. I remember when my kids were small, teaching them how to count things as soon as they’d sit still long enough. Pointing to different objects in a book while I counted along was a favorite of my little ones.
Math is often the first of the STEAM skills formally taught in the classroom. Math is an essential foundation for learning more in science, technology, and engineering. By teaching our students to understand math and to build on the skills taught in the classroom, we can go on to lead more skills and encourage more growth in our students. Using mathematical terms and encouraging their use while encouraging exploration of the world around children encourages even more math learning. Your students will begin identifying what they are looking at and exploring mathematical terms that will carry them through life.
Young children often need to realize that their playtime includes math. Math concepts are being explored by asking questions like “How much more…” or “How much less…” or “Which is bigger or smaller…” Sorting activities by shape, size, color, or any other categories are also mathematical skills. Encouraging this type of play, mathematical terms, and helping children build on their knowledge will increase their mathematical awareness.
How do I incorporate the “M” in STEAM in My Classroom?
As a teacher, you want to ensure that your students understand math concepts and apply them in real-life situations. STEAM education provides the perfect platform for integrating mathematics into your curriculum. Incorporating problem-solving and creative thinking skills can make math lessons more engaging and effective.
One way to incorporate math into STEAM is through project-based learning. Students can work on projects such as designing a bridge or building a robot, which require mathematical calculations and critical thinking skills. These projects allow students to apply their geometry, algebra, and trigonometry knowledge in a practical setting.
Another way to incorporate math into STEAM is through game-based learning. Games like Minecraft are perfect for teaching math concepts like area, perimeter, and volume. You can also use board games like Monopoly or card games like Set to teach probability and statistics.
Find ways to incorporate hands-on activities into your math lessons for an artistic element. Allowing students to visually see, hold with their hands, and manipulate a mathematical concept you are trying to teach them will go much more smoothly with manipulatives. Some manipulatives you can use and may want on hand in your classroom are:
- Base 10 Blocks
- Counting Bears
- Small Round Plastic Counters
- Compass & Protractor
- White Boards, Markers, and Erasers
- Friction Magnets
Incorporating STEAM into our daily lives is an important part of a well-rounded education. These everyday items can be used to enhance learning opportunities for students and teachers alike creatively. Here are some household supplies that are great for teaching STEAM in your classroom:
- paper towel/toilet paper rolls
- binder clips
- shoe boxes
Incorporating the M in STEAM into your classroom can significantly benefit students’ learning experience. It can help foster creativity, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills. Exploring new ways to learn and create can benefit both the student and the teacher. With careful planning, you can easily integrate the M into your lessons without removing the core subject material. Additionally, using different resources will make finding activities that work best for you and your students easier.
STEAM Lesson Planning
As a teacher, it can be challenging to incorporate STEAM subjects into your classroom lesson plans. However, with the growing demand for STEM and STEAM programs, including these subjects in your curriculum is essential. To do so successfully, there are several best practices that you should consider.
Firstly, it is important to understand the difference between STEM and STEAM. While STEM focuses solely on science, technology, engineering, and maths, STEAM incorporates Art into those subjects. With this understanding, you can then integrate art activities into your science or maths lessons in ways that help students understand complex concepts visually.
Secondly, when planning a STEAM lesson for your classroom, try to create a project-based approach that involves critical thinking skills and creativity. This approach helps students learn how to solve real-world problems using their analytical and imaginative abilities.
Finally, try to incorporate real-world situations into your math lessons. Instead of asking questions of your students that they don’t care about, ask fun questions they’ll want to answer. A famous math question involves two trains leaving from different stations at different speeds, and we need to figure out their arrival time at their various destinations. Chances are, your students don’t care about hypothetical trains. Make your math lessons more fun by asking students to calculate when Santa will be above their home based on the speed and trajectory of his sleigh.
Taking STEAM One Step Further
In today’s job market, employers seek candidates with various skills beyond basic math and science knowledge. They want individuals who can apply their knowledge to real world situations and develop innovative solutions. This is where STEAM education comes in.
By taking an interdisciplinary approach to learning, students can develop the problem-solving skills necessary for success in the workforce. Local businesses are recognizing this need and partnering with schools to provide opportunities for students to apply their STEAM knowledge in real-world settings. For example, students may work on projects like designing a sustainable energy solution or creating a marketing campaign for a new product launch.
Through these partnerships between schools and local businesses, students are gaining valuable experience and building connections that could lead to future job opportunities.
To effectively use the M in STEAM in your classroom, you need to incorporate more opportunities for learning into your math lessons. Use hands-on activities and real-life examples to explain why your students need to understand their math skills. When the lesson is personal for your students, they will pay more attention and learn. When the lesson is fun, they will learn more, ask questions, and continue exploring outside class. Let me know what you plan to do in order to incorporate the M in STEAM in your classroom!
Check out some of my other Math Blogs…
The Great Math Facts Debate: Should You Be Teaching Math Facts?
Make Math Center Rotations A Favorite Time Of The Day
How to Effectively Use Digital Math Centers In Your Classroom
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