S.T.E.M. Learning Resources – Math

by blackspanielgallery

The study of S.T.E.M. subjects is important, and at the root of all S.T.E.M. subjects is math. Learn how to approach math is a meaningful way and have results.

S.T.E.M. learning resources can help a child learn the S.T.E.M. courses, but more importantly such resources can instill an interest. Once a child develops an interest in a subject the difficulty of tutoring the child will be greatly reduced, whether the child is being homeschooled or just struggling in a traditional school. If enough interest is instilled the child might just seek out skills beyond school.

To get started we should know exactly what S.T.E.M. stands for. The letters stand for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Of these, mathematics is the key. Without a sound mathematics background, the other S.T.E.M. disciplines cannot be mastered. It is also the subject that is the most abstract.

Why Do Students Have Problems with Math?

Math from the early grades is learned by rote.  Students must memorize certain things.  This is often done with practice, followed by more practice of the same thing.  It can become quite a drudgery.  Once this happens interest is difficult to maintain.


This can be avoided with fun items that allow the student to practice without realizing it.  If the study becomes a fun activity it will accomplish the same thing as a boring approach.  The student will be learning willingly.  The good news is such resources do exist.


The key is to make things interesting, and the students will become engaged in the learning process.  Also, once success is obtained it begets a positive attitude, which in turn begets success.  It is critical that not only must the S.T.E.M. subjects be interesting, the presentation must be in a way that allows the student to believe success is possible.

Stimulate the Student

Select activities not just matched to a grade level, but to the student’s ability and interest.  Selecting too low of a level will be boring.  If the student must hone rudimentary skills do not make an issue of this.  Never say to a fourth-grade student that the material is second grade level, but it is needed.  This undermines confidence.  Just introduce the activity.


Some students will want to advance.  Make the advancement gradual.  Frustration could be the result if a second grader were to be handed a calculus activity.  On the other hand, if the student has a penchant for geometry providing such an activity is worthwhile provided it is basic enough for where the student feels comfortable. 


Try different activities and adjust the chosen activities until the right level is found.

Different Kinds of Activities

Study aids come in a variety of forms.  Some are drill and practice.  This might be appropriate for a new topic, or to fine tune a developing skill.  It can be overdone, so watch for the boredom look or action. 


Study aids can stimulate thought.  Math games and puzzles are good for stimulation.  They allow the student to use cognitive skills in solving problems.  This also can serve to give a purpose to the skills being drilled in a school setting.  Allow the student to think, making use of the skills beyond those used in just solving another similar practice problem.


Math games and puzzles can be video games, books, or involve boards and pieces. 


Some students need to see, or even handle physical, pieces of the problem.  There are items one can use to demonstrate such things as fractions, and then allow the student to practice.  For some learners this is the needed approach.


Select the approach that is appropriate for the student.  This might take some trial and effort.

Multiple Use of Materials

Study aids can be used to teach a topic.  The same materials can often be used by the student after the demonstration is finished.  In a classroom with many students this could be costly, but in the case of an individual being taught it is more plausible.


Another thing one can do to get multiple use out of an activity is select activities with reading comprehension skills needed.  This can help with a skill in an unrelated subject area.

Rote Learning Drill and Practice

Rote learning works best for the early skills.  One problem one can have in learning math is developing from rote learning into an active thinker.  It is easy to fall into the trap that rote learning is the only form of learning, and memorization is the only form of study.  As a college professor I have seen people want to memorize a technique for college problems.  Rote learning should be ending as a student moves from the early grades into the middle school grades, and the transition should be complete by the high school grades.  The problem is that if a school system is weak, as the one feeding the students into the college at which I teach are, the students may not have transitioned. 


For the first few grades drill and practice can be useful, but remember math games are more fun, and will help the student more.

Developing Thinking Skills

In middle school there should be a move in the direction of developing cognitive skills.  This is a time for some success with memorizing methods, while adding thought provocative problems.  It is a time to get into a thought process for the future. 


In the last grades, high school, the transition should be nearing completion. 

It All Starts with Confidence

Without confidence, the study of any S.T.E.M. subject if difficult.  Confidence is the way to success.  But, how is that confidence achieved?  Well, it is best achieved by success.  While the items use can help greatly with achieving that result, it is wise to also include a book or two on success with math in your approach.


One thing that is important to remember, the same approach that works well for one might be wrong for another.  People are different, they and learn differently.


Overcoming Math Anxiety

Sheila Tobias
Overcoming Math Anxiety

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This is a review of a book that will help instill confidence, and assist with studying techniques for mathematics.
There is a way to help your child, or yourself, learn math. It is possible to build confidence in your child by properly studying math. We learn math differently. Learn how.

Is the School Always Right?

Unless you use a school, or homeschool, that can work at the right pace and approach for the student, it may be a problem.  Schools must educate all of the students in the class.  The slower students at grasping a topic might need more drill and practice.  The question of whether that is best for all is important.  Will too much drill and practice sour a good student who perceives this as a waste of time?  So, simply relying on a school even for a good student is not the best approach.  Instead, find ways of keeping the interest at a high level. 

More Articles

Learning math is possible, but there are a few things that you should know before beginning. These are simple, but very important.
Mathematics, at any level, is different. Success can be achieved, but only by understanding how to approach the study of mathematics. Yes, learning mathematics is possible.
Helping with math is something often needed, whether it is helping with homework, helping with tutoring, or helping teach a homeschool student. There are ways to do this well.

Find Interesting Topics with Little Prior Math Needed

One way of instilling interest in math is with a branch of math that is more conceptual that calculation.  Tessellations, or tiling, is a good place to look.  This is where math merges with art. 

Calculator Use Issues

Finally, the issue of calculator usage always comes up.  How much is too much?  How much is too little?  We must find the right approach.  This is covered in the video below.

Calculator Usage

The question of if, and to what extent, calculators should be used in school is complex, and both sides have legitimate points.

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The introduction image is our own.

Updated: 02/18/2019, blackspanielgallery
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blackspanielgallery on 03/11/2019

We had the abacus in the first grade, and cardboard pies for fractions in the second. Back in the 50s there was not much else available. Now, more is coming out every year.

Mira on 03/11/2019

We never had any math study aids here except for the abacus in first grade. I think working with objects is really important, as is associating math with important problems in the real world.

blackspanielgallery on 02/20/2019

I believe the reason it is less interesting to many is the manner it is forced on them. A student who can multiply still has to work countless problems because they are assigned. Moving on and being allowed a feeling of accomplishment is far better.

DerdriuMarriner on 02/20/2019

blackspanielgallery, Thank you for the practicalities and products. Even though it is so true that "Rote learning should be ending as a student moves from the early grades into the middle school grades, and the transition should be complete by the high school grades," is it possible that those early years of seeming drudgery can mark a student who also is sorting out social skills? Is it possible that one of the reasons maths may seem less interesting and relevant is that it isn't an easy, friend-making, ice-breaking conversation topic outside of class and homework? (I pose this as I ponder why I never disliked maths.)

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