Beautiful Mathematics and STE(A)M Resources .

"Guided only by their feeling for symmetry, simplicity, and generality, and an indefinable sense of the fitness of things, creative mathematicians now, as in the past, are inspired by the art of mathematics rather than by any prospect of ultimate usefulness."

Quote by E. T. Bell, Scottish Mathematician

STEAM Inspiration from the Next Generation


Since youth, tutoring students has always come naturally for me. First of all, I love academics and learning. Second, I enjoy helping and caring for kids. When I wasn't babysitting, I was usually tutoring some challenging new math subject. As I mature, my focus while tutoring has changed though. Instead of "how can I inspire these kids", I'm now thinking "wow, these kids are really inspiring me". With that in mind, my newest web development is aggregating several child-inspired STEAM projects in one spot to celebrate childhood creativity and innovation. My first kid-inspired STEAM project celebrates a great math enthusiast, Martin Gardner, born October 21, 1914. Gardner wrote a monthly column on “recreational mathematics” for Scientific American. His first article covered hexaflexagons, fun little strips of paper that can be flexed or folded in certain ways to reveal faces besides the original front and back.

STEAM is everywhere at Bay Area Maker Faire


As a native of San Mateo, I've watched Maker Faire evolve since the first funky faire here in 2006. That year, I remember one main building at the event center with curious tinkerers and makers. A mix of battle bots meets paper airplanes crashing over buildings made out of straws kind of thing. Simpler times. Maker Faire today must truly be, as they say, "the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth": a family-friendly festival of innovation, creativity and resourcefulness, and an ecclectic celebration of the Maker movement. So many people gather to show what they are making and share what they are learning! Maker Media, producers of Maker Faire, has been widely credited with jumpstarting the worldwide Maker Movement, which is a transformative force in innovation, culture, and education.

Makers at this year's Faire radiate a collaborative culture of creativity, inventiveness, and experimentation with cross-disciplinary projects that often incorporate STEAM concepts as well as scientific and engineering practices. Examples include several young makers and founders starting projects like Coding Clubhouse, a developing non-profit focused on inspiring kids to code; Uber Maze, a collection of art maze pieces and interactive mazes for all levels; or Solar Rollers, a program that inspires youth to develop knowledge in the field of energy and empowers them to improve the world’s energy systems. Another inspirational maker, RainWorks, creates positive messages and art that appear when it rains. Rainworks hosted an exciting scavenger hunt across the San Mateo Event Center grounds displaying creative examples of their work.

Creating an Effective and Engaging STEM Lesson

Great STEM lessons usually have several key characteristics in common. First, a successful STEM lesson should be designed to solve a relevant, real-world problem by using the engineering design process and/or the scientific method. This involves defining the problem, conducting background research, developing multiple possible solutions, creating and testing a prototype or process, evaluating the results, and redesigning if necessary. Students should work in teams or groups, each with a specific role and responsibilities. The lesson should be inquiry-based and allow for some open exploration of specific math, science, and possibly art topics from class. A successful STEM (or STEAM) lesson will provide for multiple correct solutions with constant evaluation and redesign as part of the process. Mistakes and failures should be spun as further opportunities for growth and learning. Some great examples of this can be found on the following sites: Beautiful Mathematics Lesson Plans, NASA STEM Lesson Plans, National Geographic Education, and STEMWorks.


Society of Women Engineers K-12 Outreach

SWENext is a great way for students up to 18 years of age to become part of the Society of Women Engineers. SWENext provides resources for educators and families that can help effectively promote a career in engineering to female engineering students and daughters. This website also presents up-to-date information about outreach events (camps, competitions, etc.) hosted by SWE and its partners. A catalog of available scholarships for engineering school offered by SWE and partner organizations is also available at SWENext. An additional valuable resource for STEM educators and parents is EngineerGirl. This website contains great information for exploring and pursuing a career in engineering. Students can meet real engineers, find scholarships, participate in contests and become part of SWE. Research shows that girls with a strong support system of other female role models and peers feel more confident and successful as they pursue STEM fields.

STEM Design Challenges Give Meaning to Math

True mathematical ability involves learning content knowledge as well as developing strong habits of mind. Engineering, which applies scientific knowledge practically, presents an ideal opportunity for the application of mathematics skills. Integrated engineering units of study allow for the application of mathematics skills in real-world contexts, removing engagement barriers and enhancing the development of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Process Standards and Common Core’s Standards for Mathematical Practice. When students understand the applications for learning, they are motivated to reason about complex problems, analyze multiple solutions, and communicate ideas and results successfully. This way, students develop strong habits of mind along with necessary mathematics skills.

Douglas L. Jamerson Jr. Elementary School is one school that has successfully implemented this type of curriculum. Check out their website to learn more about their engineering design process.

Creating STEM Research Projects for the Classroom

Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo has an amazing program called the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program (STAR). This program is designed to attract science, mathematics, and engineering college students to STEM teaching positions by providing them with professional experience as scientific researchers as well as STEM educators. One way to incorporate this research experience into a classroom is to create STEM Research Projects that students complete over the course of the school year. STAR educators can show their students relevant examples by referencing their own projects like this one: Analysis of San Francisco Bay Environmental Conditions as they relate to Organismal Abundance.

Clean Energy K-12 Lesson Plans & Activities

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's (EERE) education activities are designed to engage students in the search for clean and renewable energy sources and technologies. On their website, math and science teachers can find creative lesson plans, hands on labs, relevant research projects, and other interesting activities on energy-related topics by viewing the Energy Education & Workforce Development page. Integrate this STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) curriculum into the classroom and help students plan for a greener tomorrow! Students can search by each green technology to gage their interest in further pursuing clean energy and STEM careers.

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