February Theme:  Math in Engineering

12 Months of Math

math in engineeringEngineers make things. They make things work and they make things work better. Engineers use creativity to design solutions to problems, big and small. Engineers help shape the future by applying their skills to almost everything you can think of, from medicine to renewable energy, food technologies to smart phones. If you like the idea of inventing something new to help solve a problem, one of the many fields of engineering could be for you!

Applying math and science concepts to solve problems in the real world is what engineering is all about. This month, the Parent’s Corner section focuses on how we all use problem solving techniques just like engineers. Get inspired by learning about different types of engineering and by meeting some professional engineers.

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Parents' Corner

Math Talk

Topic:  Problem Solving

Mechanical Engineers regularly identify problems, then work to develop strategies to solve those problems. Engineers use critical thinking, creativity, design, and construction to communicate their strategy ideas. When tackling a problem think of the IDEAL problem-solving process.

  1. Identify your problem.
  2. Define the important detail or information about your problem.
  3. Explore different strategies for solving your problem.
  4. Apply or implement the “best fit” strategy.
  5. Look back and learn from your work.

Explore problem solving with this fun challenge:

Leaning Tower of Pasta

Construct a tall tower with spaghetti and marshmallows that will hold a ball on top.

How can you build a tower or structure made of spaghetti and marshmallows?

How heavy is the ball?

On what surface will the tower be built?

Are there any other variables to consider?

What different shape tower can you try? Rectangular? Triangular? Spherical?

Will it be tall? Wide?

How many sticks of spaghetti and marshmallows should you use? What are their sizes?

Now that you’ve explored some strategies, decide what is the best one and build your best tower.

How well does your design work to hold a ball? Can it still be improved?

Which design ideas didn’t work as well? Why not?

Are there other materials you could use to improve your design?

Events and Activities

Math in Engineering Events

expanding your horizonsExpanding Your Horizons – Albuquerque

Saturday, February 3, 2018, 8am-1pm

Online registration is closed. Walk-in registration will be available the day of the event.

Dane Smith Hall University of New Mexico Campus Albuquerque, NM 87106

Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) in Albuquerque is a conference for girls in the 5th-9th grade. This event will include hands-on activities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). At the conference, girls will get a chance to meet STEM role models and learn more about careers in those fields. Our ultimate goal is to motivate girls to become innovative and creative thinkers ready to meet 21st Century challenges.


Discover STEM Day at
National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Saturday, February 2, 2019, 10am-3pm

General admission applies.

Visitors will experience the finest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) while enjoying ice cream made with liquid nitrogen, crafting video game controllers, making spin art with circuits, and discovering their human conductivity with a Van de Graaf generator, just to name a few! All activities are kid-friendly, completely interactive, and designed to spark interest in the scientific fields of science and engineering. Get more information about the museum.


February 24, 2018, 9am-noon

Event is free and open to the public.

LOBO Rain Forest – Innovate ABQ – 101 Broadway Blvd. NE, Albuquerque, NM

Do you like things that pop, sizzle, and boom? Join us for the first-ever Super STEM Saturday, a hands-on experiment and demonstration fair showcasing the fun you can have with science, technology, engineering, and math. Learn more at AFRLNewMexico

It’s FREE and open to the public!

Join Explora, 12 Months of Math, New Mexico Tech, and other partners for exciting, hands-on engineering activities and demonstrations.

Saturday, February 17, 10am-3pm – NM Tech student groups will bring hands-on activities and demos about math in mechanical engineering and other types of engineering.

Sunday, February 18 – Saturday, February 24 – Look for Engineering-themed activity in Explora’s Experiment Bar.

Math in Engineering Activities

Career Connections

Mechanical engineers research, design, develop, manufacture, and test tools, engines, machines, and other mechanical devices. Mechanical engineering is one of the broadest engineering disciplines. Engineers in this discipline work on power-producing machines such as electric generators, internal combustion engines, and steam and gas turbines. They also work on power-using machines such as refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment, machine tools, material handling systems, elevators and escalators, industrial production equipment, and robots used in manufacturing. – We Use Math

Career Spotlight

 Learn how these professionals use math in their careers:

Fun Online Resources

PDF Guide to Engineering challenge for High School Students

Thanks to our Title Sponsors:

Official Explora Hands Logo iHeart Media intel NSF logo

12 Months of Math, a project of STEM-NM, is a city-wide initiative designed to explore and celebrate math’s importance to our community and in our lives. 12 Months of Math will provide community-based, culturally-relevant, multilingual family math programs for the public. Each month of math will focus on a selected theme and will provide math activities in a real-world context, supported by local business and organizations whose work relates to the month’s theme. 12 Months of Math brings together the varied expertise of partner organizations and coordinates efforts to bring about significant improvement in children’s math outcomes.

STEM-NM is New Mexico’s nationally-designated STEM Learning Ecosystem, working to increase the prosperity of our community by engaging students and preparing them for jobs in our local science, technology, and health care sectors.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1744541. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

12 Months of Math is looking for math events and opportunities to engage New Mexico families. If you would like to share math information with us please fill in this contact form.

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