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Making Math Fun and Relevant

Math by Design

Math by Design, from the STEM Collaborative Website

Public broadcasting outlets from four states — Maryland, Alabama, Arkansas, and Kentucky — have joined forces as the STEM Collaborative to help students realize just how useful mathematics is in the real world, according to the weekly bulletin of the Triangle Coalition, which promotes STEM education. Their aim? To combat the all-too familiar moan of many middle school students when they’re grappling with geometry, algebra, proportional reasoning, and other basic mathematics concepts: “Why do I have to know this stuff?”

The STEM Collaborative Website features four interactive learning adventures that not only are  fun but require students to apply the math they’re learning. The site consists of four challenges: Math by Design, Scale City, Proportion Land Park, and Rock ‘n’ Roll Road Trip.  All put students to work on a number of engaging projects, ranging from building a skateboard ramp to measuring a rollercoaster to making yummy recipes.

Gail Porter Long, chief education officer at Maryland Public Television, tells the bulletin: “It’s amazing to see students reach that ‘aha’ moment when they connect the dots and understand why math actually matters.” For instance, Rock ‘n’ Roll Road Trip is a virtual tour of five global cities that requires students to use measurement, ratios, fractions ,and proportions as they learn what’s needed to build a concert stage, and learn the links between music and math. It’s kinda like putting the rhythm into logarithms.

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