We have always believed in connecting the letters in STEM and have had two projects that explicitly explored student learning and teacher change using this philosophy. This is different than integrated STEM activities, where all the disciplines are connected, but where at least two of the disciplines are connected. The targeted MSP, Math Science Technology Project, was essentially a math infusion across the middle school STEM curriculum. We examined ways to explicitly infuse math in science and technology education curriculum, and to connections to real world applications in mathematics. The schools we worked with were under review by the NY State Regents because of very poor performance by students on a variety of tests. Happily, we were able to move the schools off review, student performance increased dramatically, and we were able to effect change in the school culture. Unhappily, this was pre-common core, so the math requirements changed, and often typical of challenged school districts, there was significant change in leadership at the building and district level, leading to shifting priorities and dismantling of the STEM teams in the buildings. In the second project, Math Infusion in Science Project, was a research follow-on project to MSTP and we explicitly infused math into 8th grade science, developing 26 units in living environment, earth science and physical science that used the concept of unit rate of change at various levels of complexity. We evolved a robust teacher professional development model, with summer instruction and year ‘round support and observation in the classroom. Again, we were able to show statistically significant improvement in mathematics from this intervention and modest improvement in science (no harm done). Some of the papers associated with the projects are:
- Hecht, D., Russo, M., Flugman, B. (2008). Infusing Mathematics into Science, Technology, and Engineering Classes: Lessons Learned from Middle School Teachers and Students.
- Russo, M. and Amendral, C. (2007). Infusing Mathematics into Science and Technology at the Middle School Level: A Professional Development Model.
- Burghardt, M. D., Lauckhardt, J., Kennedy, M., Hecht, D., and McHugh, L. (2015). The Effects of a Mathematics Infusion Curriculum on Middle School Student Mathematics Achievement. School Science and Mathematics. 115(5).
- Russo, M., Hecht, D., Burghardt, M.D., etal. (2011). Development of a Multidisciplinary Middle School Mathematics Infusion Model. Middle Grades Research Journal. 6(2).
- Burghardt, M. David, Hecht, Deborah, etal. (2010). A Study of Mathematics Infusion in Middle School Technology Education Classes. Journal of Technology Education. 22, 1.