community STEAM

Students’ bring valuable (mathematics) knowledge and resources from their out-of-school activities and practices that teachers can leverage to support mathematics learning in school. Also, knowledge and resources from other disciplines, such as science, technology, engineering, art (STEAM) or literacy, can also help teachers to support children’s mathematics learning.

This page provides activities developed for informal learning settings – Family STEM Nights – hosted at elementary schools. The activities are designed to draw upon knowledge, resources, practices, etc. from students’ local communities and STEAM to foster mathematics learning. The activities incorporate a range of big mathematical ideas, including geometric reasoning, number sense, proportional reasoning, algebraic reasoning, and concepts related to distance, times, and speed. You might use these activities as a starting point to host your own informal STEM event or adapt them for the traditional classroom setting. I hope this activities can help you better recognize ways that students see and use mathematics in the home and outside of school and in other disciplines.

—Geometric Reasoning—

Flower Power

Student use geometric shapes to create flower patterns, like florists at a local flower shop.

By: Alexa Basinger, Virginia Cottam, & Keely Dunavin

Shapes & Pizza

Students use Geometric Shapes Building Set to construct 2-D and 3-D geometric shapes based on things they see at the Pizza Parlor (a local pizza restaurant).

By: Allie Blake, Rachel Bossong, & Luke Saunders

Playground Design

Students use explore different ways to design and build a playground.

By: Hazel Weatherby & Macey Wolfenbarger

Pumpkin Pi

Students find the “fattest” pumpkin using string, scissors, and a ruler. They will also have the chance to find Pi.

By: Maddie Erber, Amanda Hackett, & Katelyn Wright

Construction Site

Children use shapes to build a construction site or other buildings around their school.

By: Emily Dodson, Bri McCurry, & Carrigan Robichaud

New Addition to the Animal Center

Students use their knowledge of perimeter and area to design a new addition to Young Williams Animal Center.

By: Monica Beaumont & Brianna Watkins

Shape Building

Using the Geometric Shapes Building Set, children make a 2D or 3D geometric structure or shape (e.g. square pyramid, cube, triangle, square, pentagonal pyramid, etc.). They then determine how many vertices and edges their structure has.

By: Alison Cochran, Mandy Greene, & Tessa Person

—Proportional Reasoning—

Pet Prescription Vet Clinic

Children become a veterinarian and help write a prescription for one to five pet patients that vary in weight.

By: Bobbie Gillespie, Jordan Hudgins, & Madison Kofoed

—Distance & Time—

Rockin’ Roller Coaster

Children explore different roller coaster arrangements and what makes one go faster than the other.

By: Hannah Atkinson & Hailey Lavender

Launching Objects

Children use a wedge & lever board to launch different materials. They make and test predictions as to which piece of candy (M&M’s, marshmallows, or Hershey’s kisses) will travel the farthest.

By: Katie Goodrick, Kacie Pendergrass, & Emily Stutz

—Number Sense—

Feet Under the Table

Teachers, students, and families sit at a table together, with counters, paper, and pencils and figure out how many feet are beneath the table without looking.

By: Jess Corliss & Hannah Maddox

Fresh Produce

Students get a certain amount of money to spend at the market. They are asked to show all the different ways they could spend the amount of money they are given.

By: Kristen Chandler, Kelsey Fields, Hannah Peterson, & Allyson Sullivan

—Algebraic Reasoning—

Beading Bracelets

Students use beads and pattern cards to answer challenging and abstract questions about colored patterns.

By: Emily Bisping & Lisa Welden