Cling to the main vine, not the loose one.
Kei hopu tōu ringa ki te aka tāepa, engari kia mau ki te aka matua

123Thoughts on Teaching and Learning of Mathematics
STEM or STEAM or the one I prefer MAST

Lesson #14 Written 17/1/20
Developing STEAM - the junction of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

to understand what STEM is all about
to develop a plan of action for a year
Firstly I want to position the title STEM, as it was once called. This morphed to become STEAM when the Arts thought they were missing out. I think A should be there. I quite like the metaphor of "Building up a head of STEAM". Curiously I do not see a lot of engineering in STEM or STEAM so I remove the E. I am left with S, T, M and A and this has 24 possibilities of which MAST seems to make the most sense to me.

M = the involvement of mathematics and new learning as required to sort a problem or task that has been encountered.
A = Arts of literacy, media, English, reporting, presenting. This is the SRWLD or Speak, Read, Write Listen and Do of literacy.
S = the science of what is happening, the scientific method, building and using new understandings as required.
T = Technology and using the Design Model to understand a problem, do research, make a prototype, test and improve, publish outcomes.

The E for completeness is the Engineering which would be the actual manufacture of the prototype and improvements to the final production. E is more about the skills of measuring and cutting, connecting and fixing, molding and shaping, logical manufacture and construction, being environmentally aware and meeting regulation. So perhaps there is a place for E.

There are plenty of websites that describe, inform and resource this 21st Century approach to learning and teaching. Out world is very much a technological one and we all enjoy the benefits that have been developed so far such as cellphones and automatic gear boxes. Here are a few...
Make an Electric Motor

and there are many others.

Developing STEAM

Step 1.
Build teacher knowledge and skills of just what STEAM/STEM/MAST is all about.
Here is a good place to start so take a break and have a look.

I liked this section listing competencies of STEM
Benefits of STEAM learning
Students who participate in STEAM learning:
    think outside the box
    feel safe to express innovative and creative ideas
    feel comfortable doing hands-on learning
    take ownership over their learning
    work collaboratively with others
    understand the ways that science, maths, the arts, and technology work together
    become increasingly curious about the world around them and feel empowered to change it for the better.

I think the purpose of STEAM projects is to increase student interest in science and technology using real world problems. Included is increasing skills of making things and using tools.

TASK - Do some exploring, find out 10 things and share them with another teacher. Can you say yet what STEAM/STEM/MAST is all about? A Nice reading.

Step 2
Start small and base lessons on previous experience. Here I am thinking that Year 1/2 STEAM is a lot different form Year 8/9/10 STEAM.

Here are a few ideas.

I am going to be brave and suggest this is a possible context for all ages. The differentiation will be the outcomem or product!

Make a small i-MOVIE illustrating a story.

Here is some help. Rachel.

Step 3.
More Understanding

A STEAM project needs a problem. This problem ideally would be "a real world problem" and introduced by a "Stakeholder". In the school situation I think this step can be modeled and somewhat artificial. The Animation project above did not have a stakeholder other than a teacher asking for iMOVIE production. We could construct a "need" as an iMOVIE competition for students and have a theme of sustainability, road safety, cleanliness, healthy eating, keeping warm, being tidy or even being on time. This then involves the STEAM project with a purpose.

A revisit to this link and video might be useful. Open up the "STEAM LEARNING APPROACHES +"


I do not like these descriptors of process of STEAM so I am going to explain and rename them.,
    1. Understand the Problem. This is to EMPATHISE. Talk with the person who is presenting the problem and try to develop an understanding of what is involved. Draw pictures, get samples, see and experience the problem, get data, do some research on what is happening and what else you can know. For students this is pretty ho-hum and will require some simple guiding questions such as the following. You might well be able to think up better questions!
- Write a sentence explaining what the problem is as you see it.
- Draw a picture or take a photograph of the problem
- Why is this problem a problem?
- Are there any obvious solutions?
    2 Define the Problem. The word define is OK and might involve some more empathising or questioning and researching. Eventually a clear statement of just what the problem is will form. There are no solutions at this stage just a statement or Task Clarification. For the 'small' iMOVIE starter above we might now have a statement such as "The school would like an i-MOVIE to show to students explaining the need to reduce littering on and around the school grounds". This statement is co-constructed, pondered, confirmed and published as the purpose.  PROGRESS!
    3 Yellow HAT - CREATIVE TIME. Ideate! Ideate is a new word for me and I do not empathise with it at all. (My spelling checker does not even think it is a word.) Brainstorm does. What is needed here is a large piece of paper, a pen and all the people in the team who have decided to solve this problem. MIND-MAP. In the centre of the page is the problem and bubbling off are the reasons for the problem, the data, the stakeholder and the variables or factors involved. To "ideate" means to brainstorm possible solutions. NOTE... Anything is allowed. All suggestions welcome.

For the iMOVIE - RUBBISH Task we might have as bubbles...
    - there is more rubbish at lunch time (do we need data to confirm this?)
    - there are not enough rubbish tins (again, do we need data, is this something students say?)
    - the rubbish is more in the senior area!
    - rats are where there is food rubbish
    - dogs eat the rubbish sometimes
    - the rubbish tins are hard to find and hard to open.
    - the rubbish tins are sometimes too full
    - the boys drop all the rubbish and do not care
    - do we need rubbish monitors?
    - are the rubbish tins big enough?
    - does anyone know how to use i-MOVIE?
    - we need some actors or models.
    - we need a script.
    - what the key ideas we want to show
    - who is the audience here?
    - how long should it be?
and so on and so forth. Ponder, add, revisit and revisit again and be prepared to revisit again and even rewrite the TASK. George Polya said 80% of the allocated time should be spent understanding the problem and 20% solving it. In a classroom this is collaborating. recording, listening and sharing, researching, being creative and is a rich period of literacy and learning.

    4 Prototype is the First Solution. A prototype is the start of the fun and action. The boys will be happier here than recording out all the plans,

Example 1 Prototype
I made a hand sludge pump out of a piece of plastic tube and some shaped wood, a few screws, a rough rubber seal, some hose and a couple of connector. I wanted to hand pump the leaves out of the fish pond without catching all the fish, moving all the lily plants and draining it. The protoype worked for a few minutes and pumped leaves and sludgy water quite well. The handle needed strengthening and it was quite hard work as well because the pump was lifting 8kg or so of water on every cycle. The flipper valve I had made was working but jammed when a walnut got stuck. The idea was pretty good however and I was encourage with the result. The PUMP became PUMP 2 and was an improved smaller tube, more open valve, bigger hose and easier to use. The project contines but it could become a seller!

Example 2 Prototype
MY son wanted a diesel burner to fuel his hot water system and heat the house. The first burner earned the name Pheonix when it burst into flame and melted a few components in the first week. Pheonix 2 was a lot more insulated and a much less ambitious output was expected. Pheonix 2 burned the wooden floor out from under itself and settled in a most awkward position breaking a few components on the way. Pheonix 3 emerged form the ashes and was build in a new steel shed with plenty of insulation and a self starter. Pheonix 3 got very hot and melted the fuel in lines setting fire to the nearby trees and almost the fuel tank and house. The heating system was working however quite well. A commercial burner was found and installed and became Pheonix 4. Finally a reasonably reliable solution has been achieved. Such is the journey of these projects.

5 Prototype - TEST Progression.
The hardest part of a journey is to begin. Procrastinate at your peril. A prototype does not even have to work. It is a beginning which is then improved. The prototype and each improvement can be written about and tested, successful features noted and learning gained to inform the cyclical "test and redesign". This process is repeated until a satisfactory product has been created or time, interest, energy, interest and resources have vanished.

This step is not in the diagram above but is the key driver of why STEAM is so useful for school students. Recording could be a combination of a variety of methods including:=
    - journalling (daily, weekly, monthly)
    - drawing
    - photographs
    - blogging
    - power-points
    - movies
    - sound clips
    - displays
    - presentations
just to record a few options.

Reporting is important to normalise the use of SRWL (speak, Read, Write and Listen) or the competency generally summed up by the competency called communication. We all need to be very good at communicating and this also means a few other competencies like collaboration. It is called teamwork.

The key data here is the record of learning the team of individuals create. I think the overall assessment comprises two major sections. 
    ONE - Student Input
    TWO Teacher Input

STUDENT INPUT comes from journal and what has been said. See the LPF (Learning Progression Framework) for measures which could be used as progressions here. For younger students it might be about sentences and vocabulary, spelling and basic punctuation, use of capitals and emphasis or the more technical aspects of writing along with the content of what has been recorded.

A rubric, co-constructed with the students before the project begins is a very useful and engaging process early in the term when everyone does not know what is going to happen. Using any knowledge a teacher has about the group of students (or class)  a few items are chosen to develop. Added are a few competencies and skills. Quite quickly it is possible to make a fairly comprehensive but not to complex header for a rubric. Here is an example for a Year 7 team of 4 male students.

Use of sentences
Use of Tools

The reason for selecting these can be discussed with the students and now the task becomes co-constructing a rubric of progression. For example and here I am trying hard to be a Year 7 boy!

Recording Vocabulary Collaboration Listening Mathematics Science Use of Tools
No journal
No record produced
Limited and simple vocab
Refuses to work with others
Very inattentive
Little understanding or use of mathematics to support ideas.
Does not connect or engage with scientific ideas
Is not able to use tools safely or for the purpose

Complete detailed
record of all work
Has produced a well documented, logical and illustrated record of the project journey.
Extensive use of vocab and new
technical language.
Highly co-operative,
participates and contributes,
a team leader.

Engages in active listening
Has learned and applied new and existing mathematical ideas in ways to develop the project. Uses mathematics at or above NZC L4.
Has developed a well connected and logical approach to applied science.
Is a safe and adept user of tools appropriate to the project.

and ... everything in between. I have refrained form putting a scale of numbers of any description on the progression because it is not linear. Only 5 steps are probably need. Five because there is a middle and two steps either side. Five is also a manageable size. Seven could work. The students will provide the language for the team rubric.

The idea with a rubric is it helps students to see what they have learned, what they have achieved and what the next steps are. STEAM is about learning and blending all of these aspects is complex and highly rewarding. Other competencies could be "engagement", "perseverence", "open mind-set", "creativeness", "critical thinking or reflection", "researching" and "helping others". The list is much more extensive and different aspects of learning can be advanced in different projects all with a focus on students becoming that "graduate student" to which we aspire.

I suspect this is where we should begin the teacher journey of "Building up STEAM". See CH 2 of this book about "the Main Vine".

The key driver is "What do we wish our students will become?"

In a group of 2 or 3 take a pencil and an A3 sheet and Mind Map "Graduate Profile". From the center bubble radiate the features that you want your Year Group students to become.

Grad Profile Sample Y7
Year 7 Grad Profile Sample - Illustration of Process only.

The actual process, dialogue and sharing is a very focusing event and will help inform a Grad Profile for all Year groups. A school may well just need one called a Graduate Leavers Profile whihc is what we want to characterize a student when they move to the next step in their learning journey. I recommended this process to many schools a few years back and there was reluctance to engage. I was interested to notice that returning there seems to be a Grad Profile and it is well publicized in all the schools. Funny that.

This big picture thinking was drawn to my attention by a chance meeting and subsequent friendship with perhaps the best and most well known architect that Canada produced. Ron Keenberg. The link takes you to his firm that he once owned and a portfolio of his the work he guided. Google his name to find out more.

Ron and I talked for hours and one topic that fascinated me was the "Function informs Form". What is meant by this is the "function" of the product "informs" what it looks like or "the form".

MINITASK  - Take a few tools into the classroom and have students list firstly what each tool does and then list the form of each tool that makes it happen. My selection of tools here is a hammer, a #6 golf iron, a pair of scissors and a fizz bottle. A few simple tools of different function and material.
GOLF Iron #6
Function - to hit a golf ball.
Form - a long handle to allow a swing, weighted head to impart momentum, angled head to slew the ball up at an angle and make the ball go about 120m or so, a rubber handle for grip, a tappered shaft to help the grip, a bit opf flexibility in the shaft to assist the swing, about 500g so it is manageable, rust proof for long life, strong metal, head grip lines to grab the ball, shaped head to increase the size fop the sweet spot, hollow back for the same reason, reasonable cost so it can be made and sold. Can be made in left or right handed. The science here is physics where momentum which is mass x speed of the club head is transferred to the ball during the contact time. Follow through lengthens the contact time and increases the distance a ball can be hit. A lot of skill is needed to hit the ball, in the direction required, for the distance needed. This is an excellent skill to learn.

Function - to hit a nail, to knock items into line, to pull out nails, to use with a large variety of nails of different sizes.
Form - head of about 400grams, rounded at one side and an open claw on the other, curved claw for leverage, claw can grab nails of varying sizes, strong short handle about 30cm long, handle shaped for a good grip, works in left or right hand, strong metal, rust proof. The physics here is the momentum in the hammer is transferred to the nail upon impact. There is mathematics involved if some measures are made. The number of hits per nail is always and interesting graph. Using a hammer is also a wonderful skill to learn.

and so on. This TASK is to help make a reflective, thoughtful student who is connecting science and mathematics to make sense of all the objects humans have made. The skills of using the tools are the engineering. The technology of course is the actual tool.


Start small
    - Make of of card all the different 2d objects you can think of, name them all.
    - Make a stellated 3d math shape.
    - Make a 3d shape that opens up when the pages are opened.
    - Design and make a model cardboard truck, bus, car or house.

and move to bigger and bolder projevcts such as
    - design and build a mouse trap
    - design and build a rat trap
    - design and build a possum trap
    - design and build a wind motor that drives an action (flapping wings for example)
    - design and build a rain gauge

and then move to true STEAM projects where
    - A stakeholder presents a problem and your task is to come up with a solution.
The first problem in one of my project schools will be to "Raise $2000 to purchase and make technology equipment to support the development of STEAM within the school". Term 1 appears to have a food theme because most of the teachers have food prep skills and tools that support this development, the science and maths involved and will use it to INTRODUCE STEAM.