**How to Effectively Use the M in STEAM**

Math is extremely important for our young learners. In the realm of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) math is very important as it unites several pieces. Math is an essential building block for science, technology, engineering, and art. Incorporating math with these other disciplines is very important for effective STEAM learning.

**What is STEAM?**

STEAM is an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics. STEAM learning is learning that combines two or more of these 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, as well. By utilizing STEAM, we show our students that it is okay and even encouraged to be good at more than one thing.

Perhaps you’ve heard of STEM learning before which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, but STEAM is new to you. These disciplines all seem to be closely related and easily linked. The reason the “A” for Art was added to the acronym to make STEM become STEAM is so that students are given permission to think outside the box. They are encouraged to be creative, artistic, and think about their learning in different ways.

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 in general, even as small children. Babies are also learning geometry and spatial awareness the first time they hold something in their hand or put it in their mouth. I remember when my own 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, as well. 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 teach 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 with mathematical terms that will carry them through life.

Young children often don’t even realize that their play time 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 all mathematical skills as well. Encouraging this type of play, mathematical terms, and helping children to build on the knowledge they already possess will increase their mathematical awareness.

**How do I incorporate the M in STEAM into my classroom?**

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
- Snacks
- Small Round Plastic Counters
- Compass & Protractor
- White Boards, Markers, and Erasers
- Fraction Magnets

Incorporate real-life 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 very famous math question involves two trains leaving from different stations at different speeds and we need to figure out their arrival time at their separate 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.

**Summary**

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 really drive home why your students need to learn 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 of 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?

Using Pattern Blocks to Increase Engagement in Your Classroom

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