With declining U.S. student math scores, our schools would be wise to adopt a new formula that is sure to paint a prettier picture for the country’s STEM rankings. Combining math and art classes may in fact draw better math performance for American youth, starting as early as elementary school.

Here are eight reasons why schools would benefit from merging math and art classes.

1. Improved comprehension. Both science and art are about converting the invisible to the visible, so they’re a natural fit. Taking numbers off of paper and onto something students can touch and feel makes math significantly more relatable and understandable. It’s about taking an integrative approach and mixing the tangible with the abstract to help students better grasp complex formulas.

8 reasons why we should combine art + math #k12

2. Concept visualization. When students have the opportunity to use their artistic skills and draw scenarios, they can more easily visualize and figure out math problems related to what they’re learning—from algebra to geometry to probability. Lessons in modeling and graphing can easily be translated into pieces of art, for example. Even painted flower petals can be used to learn about patterns. For those who find memorizing formulas and calculating volume of shapes to be difficult, visualizing concepts through art—whether drawing, models, or sculpting—can make them more relevant, accessible, and clear.

3. The fun factor. It’s no secret that math can use a boost in the “favorite subject” category. In fact, math is often associated with fear, boredom, and irrelevance. Adding art to math class makes math less intimidating and more fun, leading to increased interest and causing kids to naturally perform better.

About the Author:

John De Pillis is a math professor at University of California, Riverside; author of bestseller 777 Mathematical Conversation Starters, and a commercial artist and illustrator for math publications produced by the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), including its news journal, SIAM News.


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