Bringing Out the Math in Making (2021)


The last decade has seen a proliferation of out-of-school environments that offer making and tinkering experiences. Enthusiastic participants in these contexts are often engaging in mathematical reasoning without realizing it—and thus may not consider themselves competent mathematical thinkers. The central thesis of the Math in the Making initiative is that this situation represents a missed opportunity to significantly expand the range of people who find math enjoyable, consider themselves competent at mathematical reasoning, and are interested in pursuing hobbies and careers that might involve math.

In this project, which built on the Math in the Making workshop help in 2016, TERC partnered with the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) and the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh (CMP) to prototype approaches to highlighting the mathematics in making, develop a set of design principles for enhancing the salience of the math while preserving the integrity of the making experience, and consider how best to raise visitors’ awareness of their own mathematical competence.  When the pandemic curtailed visitorship to NYSCI and CMP, staff at both institutions pivoted to different models of engagement with families, both of which provided unexpected opportunities to expand our research agenda and forge new connections with the community.

NSF Awards: 1811395