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CUSD Shares Possible STEAM Projects by Grade

Twelve STEAM Innovation Leaders from the Campbell Unified School District (CUSD) came to RAFT earlier this month to create new motivational activities for the start of the school year!  They met in grade-level teams with our RAFT Education staff to generate new ideas using RAFT materials that will motivate, challenge, and inspire their students.
Each team was given a RAFT Makerspace-in-a-Box containing a wide variety of upcycled materials. They were asked to create a Design Challenge that directed students to solve the instructor’s challenge with the materials from the box. The Design Challenges addressed an engineering standard appropriate for each grade level and could include standards from other subjects. Here are some of their exciting back-to-school ideas:

Grades TK – 2
Engineering Standard:
K-2-ETS1-1:  Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.
  • Create something and share it with the class.
  • Make a gift:
    • For someone in your family to tell them about your day.
    • Learn about a classmate and make a gift for them based on something you learned about them.
  • Create something that tells us about yourself.
  • In a small group create something that:
    • Solves a problem you might have at school.
    • Is a team mascot or a team symbol.
Grades 3 – 5

Engineering Standard:
K-2-ETS1-1:  Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
  • Create something that tells us about yourself.
  • Design a gift for someone—use the Design Thinking model (empathy, define, ideate, prototype, test, reiterate and then create a final gift)
  • Make something that represents a character trait of yours.
  • Create a narrative with postcards. Pretend you were on a summer vacation, and design it.
  • Create your own nameplate to describe something about yourself.
  • Create a way to organize lots of materials for a group table activity, including math manipulatives.
  • Design your favorite classroom or learning space.
  • Create “fidgets” with a variety of physical challenges.
  • Create an improv speech using the materials for inspiration.
Grades 6 - 8

Engineering Standard:
MS-ETS1-1:  Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
  • A sentence frame task is taped to each Makerspace-in-a-Box. Each team of students uses the same number of items from the box to design one of the following school-wide challenges:
    • Choose a school project.  Award those who come up with the plan that most helps with a school or a real world problem.
    • Students gather feedback (take interviews) from the school population and prototype, test, and redesign their projects. Students could involve the entire school community in this challenge
  • Design fidget spinners or other devices.
  • Create a machine that has a function relating to a visual aid.
  • Build something from the materials that promote positive ideas/values/beliefs.
  • Create a work of art that generates active conversation and evokes compassion. Students must be able to defend and to explain their art.
  • Students use materials to tell stories, improve/redesign new uses for objects, etc.

Campbell Unified School District STEAM Leaders want you to “Make This School Year Awesome!!!” Check out their shared goals for the new school year:

Goal #1: Increase the availability of high quality, integrated STEAM education for all students, and bridge the world of the classroom with STEAM career opportunities and the local community.

Goal #2: Create a thoughtful, cohesive system that produces students who think logically, work both independently and collaboratively, and are able to apply their understanding of how the world works across integrated disciplines of STEAM.

Goal #3: Provide teachers ongoing professional development opportunities to extend their knowledge and application of STEAM integration.

Many thanks to all the excellent Campbell Unified School District’s STEAM Leaders for sharing their ideas and thought with our RAFT members!


  1. I would like to photos of sample products /designs made by second grade. Thank you for the ideas.


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