STEAM Ideas: Things to make you go M

Teachers responding to calls to develop curriculum relevant to 21st century concerns, often end up settling for a nice cup of TEA – it is easy to find activities framed by Technology, Design and the Arts – but end up neglecting the opportunities in the M.

When a local Primary Principal contacted The Edge for help in developing an invigorated STEAM curriculum in their school, we put our minds to the challenge of making maths hands-on, interesting and engaging for students (and teachers). Here is what we came up with:



Scales, ratios, and even fractions can be drawn out of exploring how a pantograph is made and used.

A pantograph is a drawing instrument that enlarges or reduces a traced image, and can be made from four sticks, some paper clips, and a whole lot of maths. Ratios change when connections are changed in a measurable way, and even non-drawers can produce work that they can be proud of.

Pantograph in action.png

By Inigolv (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.



Measurement of mass, distance and time are all required to decide the best design for a rubber band powered car, a water wheel, or a simple crane. Use maths to settle a class competition, or justify improvements.



Citizen Science offers lots of real life opportunities for data collection, mapping, and data presentation. Websites like Zooniverse and the Atlas of Living Australia encourage students to count galaxies, record animal sightings on the seafloor or in the African jungle or map the ibises in the schoolyard. Online access makes these addictive pastimes homework-ready.


Maths is often the silent letter in STEAM, because maths is in everything – hopefully these suggestions will make it easier for you to make maths meaningful and enjoyable for your students.


Who wrote this blog post?

Dr Peter Musk, Science Catalyst at The Edge

Dr Peter Musk

Kombucha – Dr Peter Musk, SLQ, The Edge. Image: QUT Media


Dr Musk has many tales to tell, with degrees in Botany and Biochemistry, countless years in research and a PhD in Biochemistry he brings more than framed certificates to The Edge. From men in white lab coats to building houses, driving taxis, playing in a band, travelling and living all over the world, and educating the leaders of tomorrow in Queensland high schools, Peter has now (in his words) saved the best job for last!

Joining The Edge as a Science Catalyst, Peter ‘plays’ with science, bringing wild ideas (like growing a chair from mushroom fungi) to life. Most days you will catch the doctor in his lab – experimenting, testing and creating.


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