RAFT Makerspace Lessons

RAFT connects corporations to schools by collecting and up-cycling surplus materials into hands-on learning curriculum.

The units below are integrated STEAM lessons designed directly from NGSS performance expectations and Common Core Math standards. Each unit provides students with the opportunity to explore core concepts individually before applying these concepts to solve a design challenge.


Shapes All Around

77629A-R2-16AIn this unit, students engage in lessons that explore shapes in different capacities such as designing a living space with shapes or solving a shape puzzle without leaving white space between the shapes. These different lessons will provide students with the skills needed to master identifying, describing, and constructing different shapes in natural settings.

Designed to integrate DRDP outcomes:  COG 9: Shapes, COG 1: Spatial Relationships, VPA 1:Virtual Art, SED 4: Relationships and Social Interactions with Peers




Measuring the Classroom

DSC_5068Often people are faced with the task of arranging furniture to use the space in a room efficiently. For the design challenge at the end of this unit, students will be asked to do exactly that in their own classroom.  To prepare for the challenge, students will be learning how to compare the sizes of different objects against each other. Students will learn about measuring different attributes, including length, width, and different measuring units.


First Grade

Create a Morse Code Device

DSCN1843For the design challenge at the end of this unit, students will be asked to create devices that allow them to communicate using sounds rather than speech. To prepare for the challenge, students will be learning how different sounds can be created by various vibrating materials. They will learn that sound pitch and volume can change depending on the size of vibrating object.



Second Grade

Build a custom carrying case for your special creation

In this unit, students will be challenged to design their own specialized carrying case.  They will begin with some practice tinkering to make an object.  They will then work through lessons on measurement, and choosing materials to aid in their design of a carrying case for the object they make.

Performance expectations: NGSS 2-PS1-2, CCSS.MATH.CONTENT. K.MD.A.2


Third Grade

The Tech Challenge 2017

ttc2017_logoA design thinking unit for younger students interested in the Tech Challenge

Aligned with the theme of The Tech Challenge 2017, this design thinking unit invites individuals or teams to design a solution to cross an icy ravine.


Fourth Grade

A Glimpse into Cybersecurity

A design thinking unit that teaches fourth grade students about the nature and types of data requiring protection and strategies for cybersecurity both on a personal and global level

This unit invites students to work in teams to build and test a device that applies multiple layers of encryption to protect data and uses patterns to safely transmit the data. This unit is produced with in collaboration with




Fifth Grade

Freshwater Transport

77629A-R7-19Design a model of a freshwater transport system to solve a real world need.

In this learn-to-inquire unit, students learn to define a problem with specific constraints, collect and display data, and use a model to iterate on a solution.

Designed to integrate NGSS engineering performance expectation: 3-5-ETS1-1 and Common Core Math Content: 5.MD.2 and Common Core Writing Content: W.5.7


Sixth Grade

Have a Ball!

77629A-R5-30Design, build, test and share a better soccer ball.

In this unit students develop an understanding of calculating the area of complex polygons by deconstructing them. Students then apply this understanding to design a soccer ball through an iterative process. Students also learn up-cycling from innovative children around the world.

Designed to integrate Common Core Math Content 6.G.A.1 and NGSS Middle School Engineering Design Performance Expectation MS-ETS1-1


Seventh Grade

Early Warning Systems

Colors of Light is an easy-to-build spectroscope editedIn this unit, students develop and use a model to describe that waves are transmitted through various materials by designing an adjustable warning device that transmits reflected light across a distance.

Designed from NGSS Performance expectation: MS-PS4-2


Eighth Grade

Design a Noise Cancelling Device

Pop_9751Students explore the absorption and reflective properties of different materials be used to minimize the effects of excessive noise on noise-induced hearing loss. Students then use this understanding to build and use an assistive listening device.

Designed from NGSS performance expectation: MS-PS4-2


Building a Makerspace in Your School

RAFT can help your school design a space for deeper inquiry and problem based learning using low-cost up-cycled materials.



We partner with your school to ensure teachers have curriculum, training, and material resources throughout the school year.



We can eve help plan school community events to ensure success and sustainability.


Build a Maker Toolkit

Ready to get started with RAFT makerspace hands on learning? Try our new make-your-makerspace lesson for an intro to the design thinking process.




RAFT makes it easy to get started with a classroom makerspace. Our Makerspace-in-a-box kit provides a class set of RAFT hands-on learning materials useable with all of our lessons here.


What Is Design Thinking?

Many of RAFT’s Maker-Space lessons are built using Stanford’s Design Thinking process.Design Thinking is a methodology used to solve real world problems. This  process helps students to deeply understand a problem, learn and explore the concepts needed in finding solutions, and iterate on a solution while achieving proficiency with performance expectations.

ALL of our STEAM lessons are built directly from NGSS performance expectations and Common Core MATH standards. The design thinking process is useful in deconstructing each concept used in a performance expectation and giving students ample practice before applying their understanding to an end-of-unit challenge that mirrors the performance expectation.

The Design Thinking Process

Our design thinking units have five phases based on the d.school’s model. Each phase can be repeated to allow students to re-work and iterate while developing deeper understanding of the core concepts. These are the five phases of the design thinking model:

EMPATHIZE: Work to fully understand the experience of the user for whom you are designing.  Do this through observation, interaction, and immersing yourself in their experiences.

DEFINE: Process and synthesize the findings from your empathy work in order to form a user point of view that you will address with your design.

IDEATE: Explore a wide variety of possible solutions through generating a large quantity of diverse possible solutions, allowing you to step beyond the obvious and explore a range of ideas.

PROTOTYPE: Transform your ideas into a physical form so that you can experience and interact with them and, in the process, learn and develop more empathy.

TEST: Try out high-resolution products and use observations and feedback to refine prototypes, learn more about the user, and refine your original point of view.

The Design Thinking Process | ReDesigning Theater. (n.d.). Retrieved April 2, 2016, from http://dschool.stanford.edu/redesigningtheater/the-design-thinking-process/