Tag Archives: Mathematics

Teaching STEM

STEM Lesson Essentials, Grades 3-8: Integrating Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

51UXAvjUGTL._SX393_BO1,204,203,200_By Jo Anne Vasquez, Cary Sneider and Michael Comer
Call Number: LB1585.3 .V38 2013
View in IvyCat

Want to know how to implement authentic STEM teaching and learning into your classroom? STEM Lesson Essentials provides all the tools and strategies you’ll need to design integrated, interdisciplinary STEM lessons and units that are relevant and exciting to your students. With clear definitions of both STEM and STEM literacy, the authors argue that STEM in itself is not a curriculum, but rather a way of organizing and delivering instruction by weaving the four disciplines together in intentional ways. Rather than adding two new subjects to the curriculum, the engineering and technology practices can instead be blended into existing math and science lessons in ways that engage students and help them master 21st century skills.

Engineering in Elementary STEM Education: Curriculum Design, Instruction, Learning, and Assessment

9780807776711By Christine M. Cunningham
Call Number: LB1585.3 .C86 2018
View in IvyCat

Bolstered by new standards and new initiatives to promote STEM education, engineering is making its way into the school curriculum. This comprehensive introduction will help elementary educators integrate engineering into their classroom, school, or district in age-appropriate, inclusive, and engaging ways. Building on the work of a Museum of Science team that has spent 15 years developing elementary engineering curricula, this book outlines how engineering can be integrated into a broader STEM curriculum, details its pedagogical benefits to students, and includes classroom examples to help educators tailor instruction to engage diverse students.

In the steamy days of late summer, think of STEAM … and Steampunk

Ivy Tech takes another interim break in August, just before kids return to school. When the weather is hot and stormy, is a great time to indulge in crafting and hobbies.

Research shows these activities are good for your brain:
“Having at least one persistent and intellectually stimulating hobby is a better predictor of career success in any discipline than IQ, standardized test scores, or grades.”1
“Nobel laureates were: twenty-five times as likely as an average scientist to sing, dance, or act; seventeen times as likely to be an artist; twelve times more likely to write poetry and literature; eight times more likely to do woodworking or some other craft; four times as likely to be a musician; and twice as likely to be a photographer.”2

Educators know that the arts are a crucial addition to math, science, engineering and technology training. The non-linear problem-solving techniques, and creative flow, exercised in artistic endeavors stimulate innovation.

Crochet and knitting are used by mathematicians to demonstrate hyperbolic surfaces. Dr. Daina Taimina, visiting professor at Cornell University, was one of the pioneers in demonstrating hyperbolic crochet. Dr. Sarah-Marie Belcastro at Smith College and Dr. Carolyn Yackel at Mercer University publish on mathematical knitting. Dr. Maryam Mirzakhani, the Fields Medal winner who died of cancer July 14th, also worked on complex surfaces by “doodling” on large sheets of paper, writing the mathematical formulas in the margins.3

Margaret Wertheim explains the math of coral reefs using crocheted models from Dr. Taimina in a TED talk.

To get your creativity flowing, we have books to check out and page through on our DIY shelf in the Creative Commons. These are for all ages, and there are more crafting books in our children’s section.

We have access to the Hobbies and Crafts Reference Center as part of our databases subscription. This is an excellent resource for techniques tutorials and designs, linking to how-to instructions and creative ideas with full text and illustrations from periodicals and books. It is organized into broad categories you can browse: Arts & Crafts, Collecting, Home & Garden, Indoor Recreation [games], Kids’ Crafts, Model Building, Needlecrafts & Textiles, Outdoor Recreation, Performing Arts, Science & Technology, Scrapbooking & Paper Crafts. A keyword search will pull up periodicals and books on “cake decoration” and other such specific activities within these. Or, you can do a keyword search across all categories for style topics, like Cosplay or Steampunk. Both are well covered here, from clothing to cakes to household furnishings.

1 Milgram, R., and Hong, E. (1997). “Out-of-school activities in gifted adolescents as a predictor of vocational choice and work.” Journal Of Secondary Gifted Education 8/3:111. Quoted in Colegrove, T. (2017). “Editorial Board Thoughts: Arts into Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics – STEAM, Creative Abrasion, and the Opportunity in Libraries Today,” Information Technology and Libraries, 36/1:7. https://doi.org/10.6017/ital.v36i1.9733

2 Root-Bernstein, et al. (2008). “Arts Foster Scientific Success: Avocations of Nobel, National Academy, Royal Society, and Sigma Xi Members.” Journal of Psychology of Science and Technology https://doi.org/10.1891/1939-7054.1.2.51; quoted in Colegrove 2017.

3 http://news.stanford.edu/2017/07/15/maryam-mirzakhani-stanford-mathematician-and-fields-medal-winner-dies/

Visualize Data

Data visualization is a hot topic in education and research as well as business. We are all swimming in data these days, but the information in that data simply won’t be evident without good visualization techniques, as David McCandless demonstrates in his full TED talk from our Films on Demand collection.

Visualization is a kind of answer, and thus derives from the quality of the questions asked of data, and the quality of the data itself. Columbia University professor Kaiser Fung provides clear explanations of data visualization principles on his blog, Junk Charts.

Explore these inspiring examples: Hans Rosling was a physician who developed brilliant data visualizations to campaign for world health initiatives. Rosling’s best TED Talks are now in a playlist. Edward Tufte is Professor Emeritus of political science, statistics, and computer science at Princeton and a pioneer in making data understandable. On his website are examples of his work and links to some of his essays on visualization, including his famous rants about bad use of PowerPoint.

There are well-known pitfalls to presenting data in graphic format. The website wtf-viz  (also wtf-viz on Tumblr) collects bad graphs of all kinds, crowd-sourced. These include network, flowchart, and block diagrams gone awry, along with poor quantitative representations. The archive is searchable by hashtag (#pie charts) or you can browse thumbnails in the archive by month. There are some great examples here for classroom discussion!

On her blog Storytelling with Data Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic, a former financial risk assessor, shares best practices for presenting and explaining business data. She not only reveals tips for manipulating Excel charts, but also how to lay out data in presentations (not on a single page or slide, usually). Knaflic’s collected blog posts are published in an eponymous book available in our Ebook Central Collection.

We also have manuals and cookbooks for popular programs used to visualize data, from small sets to Hadoop. In IvyCat, do a keyword search for “data visualization” as a phrase, or search the subject “information visualization – computer programs,” to bring up a list. Most of these are eBooks.

The programs discussed include Google Sheets and MicroSoft Excel, which are available to all IvyTech students, faculty, and staff. The program R is free ; and NodeXL is a free social network analysis add-in for Excel.  Many of these are just applications using HTML. D3.js is free and open source. Google Charts allows users to plug in their own data to generate and customize charts, plots, and maps of all kinds for websites.

(Please note, the author, the Library, and Ivy Tech are not responsible for user experiences, and Ivy Tech does not allow the installation of software on college computers without authorization.)

Go Fly a Kite!

four kites flying in blue sky with clouds

April is National Kite Month and is a great time of the year to fly them. The American Kitefliers Association has many resources from directories of clubs to instruction videos. Kites are not just toys – kite making and flying can get very scientific and is a fun way to explore math, applied physics, earth science, art, and different cultures.
Kites have been used in scientific experiments like Ben Franklin’s test for electricity in lightning. Kites were used in warfare for observation as late as the second world war; in ancient times they could be flown over fortifications to test how thick walls were, by using triangulation. The classic kite shape of two triangles that share a base has many interesting mathematical properties, and can be convex or nonconvex.
Kites to be flown are not always kite-shaped, however; there are tubular sock and drogue shapes. Constructing a kite also involves tying special knots in the strings, and flying one uses the same technologies and techniques as operating a sail boat. Kites are being tested as a source of energy, as used in kite surfing, snowkiting, and kite sledding. Fighting with kites is an ancient sport taken quite seriously in parts of Asia, described in the acclaimed novel The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (adapted as a movie).
Many kites are made to be beautiful above all. Ancient kites were made of silk, paper, and bamboo. Today, people make them out of Tyvek® and nylon fabric too.
In some places kites are part of religious ceremonies: in India, they are flown on the Hindu festival of Makar Sankranti; in Mexico, fire kites called “little witches” are set off at night around Hallowe’en; in Guatemala, kites are flown above graves to free ancestor spirits on the Day of the Dead; in Japan, kites are released to exorcise evil spirits.
To find more information on the many aspects of kites, search in our databases using – ironically – the subject heading Kites (toys) to filter out resources concerned with the bird species called kite. (Sources: Freeman, C. (2010). Hands on geometry. Waco, TX: Prufrock Press. Rowlands, J. (1989). One-hour kites. New York: St. Martin’s Press. Silvester, H.(2008).  Into the wind: the art of the kite. New York: Abrams.)

What do peanuts, alcohol, and sugar cane have in common?


Did you know…following the arrival of the automobile, scientists immediately turned to biofuels? The German inventor Rudolf Diesel fueled his engine with peanut oil, while Henry Ford predicted that the fuel of choice would be alcohol-based. Now, all these years later, this interest in biofuels has been reawakened among the scientific community. Learn more about the options and our progress toward making them a reality in Achieving Sustainability, available on GVRL.Check it out!

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