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Abstract

Creativity is essential for solving problems in the workplace, natural environment, and everyday life, necessitating that creativity be nurtured in schools. Identification of factors that intrinsically motivate students to learn difficult or initially unappealing content is also important. This project, in which 24 racially diverse fifth grade girls created dioramas of the lives of diverse successful women mathematicians, explored the girls’ reactions to art integration into mathematics through a phenomenological qualitative analysis of their products, essays, and responses to questionnaires. The project supported the Next Generation Science Standard for engineering design, Standard 3-5-ETS1-1 and two National Core Arts Standards for visual arts for fifth grade students, VA:Cr2.1.5a and VA:Cr2.2.5a. The students evidenced positive studio habits, including task focus and longterm persistence, expression of strong personal meaning, and acquisition of new art techniques. The most frequent theme of students’ responses was their surprise and delight that art and mathematics can be connected. The diorama construction work was viewed as intrinsically motivating because the creative aspects of the project allowed students to stretch their skills, learn new art techniques of spatial construction, and to experience flow as they became absorbed in their work. The arts-integrated and studio nature of this project promoted creative production and accompanying intrinsic motivation, allowing students to become eager to learn both information about mathematics careers and three-dimensional art techniques.