Recommendations for Integrating Mathematics into Making and Tinkering Experiences

Monday, March 28, 2016
Resource Type:
Reference Materials
Environment Type: 
Public Programs, Making and Tinkering Programs, Professional Development, Conferences, and Networks, Conferences
General Public | Educators/Teachers | Museum/ISE Professionals | Evaluators | Learning Researchers
Institute for Learning Innovation, TERC Inc.

Making, tinkering, and other informal design and engineering experiences offer rich opportunities to engage
children and adults in mathematics and build mathematical skills, knowledge, and interests. But how can educators
successfully integrate mathematics into these experiences? One approach to answering this question is to better understand how children and adults engage with and think about mathematics outside of school, in every day and informal learning environments. As part of the NSF-funded Math in
the Making project, Pattison, Rubin, and Wright (2016) synthesized the research on everyday and informal mathematics
from the last several decades. The literature summary affirmed that children and adults regularly engage in mathematical
thinking and reasoning outside of school. The summary also highlighted how this thinking often looks very different from
classroom mathematics, is driven by different goals and motivations, and may go largely unrecognized as mathematical, by
both educators and learners. Building on these findings, below we outline a series of recommendations for educators interested in leveraging
the unique characteristics of everyday and informal math in order to successfully integrate mathematics into making and
tinkering experiences. These recommendations will hopefully serve as useful and practical guidance for educators, as well
as a foundation for much-needed research on mathematics in designed informal learning environments.

Funding Program: 
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Team Members

Andee RubinAuthor

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