It’s no secret that the jobs of tomorrow will be in STEM. Educators have heard this call loud and clear, and STEM curriculums are being implemented nationally. At White Oak Elementary
, the commitment to STEM education has created a school-wide culture of inquiry and innovation. While educators have found natural curriculum-based projects integrating science, technology, and engineering, a constant obstacle remains: how do we encourage our students to see the world through the eyes of a mathematician?
Oftentimes, integrating math into Project-based Learning (PBL) can feel forced. If our students are to become true STEM thinkers, they must notice the authentic math connections in their work. To support this shift in thinking, their eyes must be opened to the abundance of mathematics in the world around them.
In order to cultivate math awareness, the fifth graders at White Oak were presented with the question: Where’s the Math? Through explicit instruction, students were taught how and where to look for natural mathematical connections.
First, students were given physical artifacts such as receipts, menus, and nutrition labels. Students were guided to look beyond the numbers, and understand the mathematical concepts at work behind the digits - How is the total amount on the receipt calculated? What does the discount mean?