Student: Kari Jurgenson, Graduate Student in Mathematics Education, Iowa State University
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Mollie Appelgate
Focusing on the M in STEM: How Students Learn Volume in an Integrated Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Unit
Recently, there has been a push to integrate the STEM disciplines, often referred to as integrated STEM education in which science, technology, engineering, and mathematics work together in one cohesive unit. Integrated STEM education is student-centered and often includes hands-on activities that relate to authentic, real-world problems. Therefore, STEM can lead to better real-world connections in the curriculum and may enhance the meaningfulness of the disciplines by presenting the material in a realistic context so that the activities are relevant and engaging while still being aligned to the national standards. Thus, mathematics learning may be more meaningful and relevant when learned through integrated STEM because it is placed in authentic contexts. My research investigates how elementary students learn mathematics within an integrated elementary STEM unit. The STEM unit was developed through a collaboration between the School of Education at Iowa State University and Parametric Studios Inc., an educational technology company specializing in engineering-centric, project-based STEM software. Multiple elementary classrooms are implementing the unit which integrates the STEM disciplines through hands-on, student-centered lessons that teach mathematics and science concepts alongside a gamified virtual environment in which students design a solution to a real-world engineering challenge, in this case, designing and building boats.