This research project seeks avenues for transforming cultural perceptions of mathematics in ways that broaden learners’ access to the discipline. The project addresses an issue of central importance to the field of STEM education: widespread cultural images of mathematics as an inscrutable domain available only to a small number of people of exceptional intelligence or innate capacity. Widely circulating cultural notions of mathematics as difficult and esoteric inflect many learners’ experiences with this discipline and ultimately have the unfortunate potential to discourage participation in or identification with mathematics. To address this issue, this project explores two conjectures:
1. Educational interventions that (a) merge mathematics and the arts and (b) engage learners’ bodies, through movement, interaction, and multimodal perception, can productively broaden cultural views for what is regarded as mathematics.
2. The diverse array of in stitutions in the informal education sector has a unique potential to engage learners with specific mathematical content in novel ways. The proposed project investigates each of these conjectures in the context of the establishment of a new research center, the InforMath Collaborative, that brings together university educational researchers with art and science museum professionals. This collaborative, through design-based research on exhibits and programs, integrates existing content from participating art and science museums with mathematics.