Document Type



This qualitative analysis is oriented around the experiences and discourse of high school students participating in LASER (Linking Art and Science through Education and Research), an initiative at Montclair State University in Montclair, NJ that seeks mathematics and physics education reform through an immersive and innovative approach to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) experiences. This work focuses on the concluding task of a one-day workshop wherein students are led on a campus walk to observe the local campus architecture, and then must recreate one of the observed structures within the Desmos graphing utility. Student approaches and narratives reveal a willingness to explore the complexity of the modeling task that might not otherwise be encouraged in their traditional learning environments. The analytical framework of the three worlds of mathematics proves to be a particularly useful tool in making sense of the complexity of student engagement. Implications for the future of STEAM education and interdisciplinary curricula are explored, with emphasis on the roles of creativity and a non-traditional learning environment.