Menu

Education Today Logo

Maths stands to be the real winner from STEAM

Will Maby @wmaby – “Itinerant Maths teacher”

News Image

I approach my curriculum planning in the way I approach much of my life: I work out what I want to achieve and then I work out how to do it.  In order to stop myself straying from my STEAM goals I, therefore, keep a short note on my computer’s desktop reminding me what it is I want to achieve. Here it is:

  • Promote STEAM subjects
  • Increase students’ engagement in STEAM subjects
  • Showcase potential careers in the STEAM
  • Increase students’ engagement in STEAM subjects
  • Provide opportunities for students to work in the higher cognitive domains

Each time I read this list I am struck by how most of these goals are already present, in some form, in the S, the T, the E and the A.

Science has the fizzes and bangs of practical experiments as well as countless exciting career opportunities in exotic parts of the world. Technology classes are focused largely on building either physical or computer based projects, and we are all well aware that technology is at the forefront of innovation with those who command knowledge in these areas being the ones who will build the robots that will replace so many jobs. While traditional forms of art are often seen to be poorly paid (until after you’re dead) digital opportunities such as gaming and animation can offer corporate career paths and steady salaries, and besides, who has ever accused secondary school art courses of not being hands on?

But what about the M?  It’s Maths that doesn’t currently have an engaging hands-on component to it. Instead we (yes, I’m a Maths teacher) contrive bizarre questions that involve standing on a cliff top and trying to work out the distance to the boat using a handy inclinometer to demonstrate the real-world relevance of trigonometry.Or hypothetical questions about flour to sugar ratios in cakes, or “what’s in the bag” questions for algebra.

If we embrace STEAM projects students will need to use fractions in the recipes they cook. They will need to use trigonometry to build the best crane. They will need to use substitution to keep their avatar in the centre of a scrolling game screen.

Our current lack of ability to find engaging, relevant and real-life examples in Maths leads to a broader lack of information available to students on what careers use Maths knowledge and skills. Maths is everywhere and it is up to us Maths teachers to reconnect with this and show this to our students. The solution to the stagnation of Maths teaching over the last few decades is at our fingertips; we just need to embrace the projects of our STEAM peers and start highlighting to our students where they can use the skills that we are working so hard to teach them.


29 May 2019 | National
Keeping up your cyber hygiene News Image

Cyber-attacks on Australia’s education sector have dropped to 18% (down by 32% from 2017) which saw the sector leave the top spot of most targeted.
Read More

29 May 2019 | South Australia
UK Linked Factory of the Future in Tonsley SA News Image

A proposed $50 million Flinders University-led Australian Centre for Innovative Manufacturing (ACIM) at Tonsley will be the nation’s first reconfigurable ‘Future Factory. Read More

29 May 2019 | National
Math teacher shortage worse with more enrolments News Image

The shortage of Maths teachers is well documented and has been for some time, a shortage has been appreciated since the 1980s, the problem will only get worse as enrolments increase. Read More

29 May 2019 | National
Droning in the Classroom News Image

If we are to believe futurist Thomas Frey, drones will become the most disruptive technology in human history. To be fair Frey’s definition of a drone is more than the flying Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or UAVs we typically think of. Read More

29 May 2019 | National
Grant bot uses algorithm to give schools STEAM funds News Image

Grant is kind of generous, if you manage to impress, Grant will make it very worth your while, giving away funds for classroom STEAM resources.
Read More