How can design be integrated in K-12 education?

STEM Education is an emerging educational initiative in K-12 education. Design combines knowledge with creativity and problem-solving and can be a valuable addition to STEM.

My Research in a 5th Grade Classroom

Partnering with the University of Houston’s Science Mentoring for a Richer Tomorrow “SMART” program, I worked with fifth grade students at a Houston elementary school to teach them a lesson about science and participate in a mini design project.

“Using the balloon’s energy, try to make the water bottle move on its own!”

Prototyping Supplies

My research helped me understand how 5th graders learn design. However, the prototyping supplies planned for the activity was expensive, single use, and discarded after the activity.

Create a reusable design kit.

Design + is a reusable design toolkit that helps students ages 8-12 learn new concepts in STEM through design thinking.

Kit for Creativity

Access to a variety of pieces helped the students be more creative.
I created a reusable toolkit that can be used for many design challenges.


The students quickly made associations of how the different pieces worked together.
Design+ allows exploration in both volume and structure.

Design + STEM

The right or wrong responses to the science principles helped students evaluate their work.
Design+ is a tool to teach applied concepts in STEM through a process of design thinking.


Design a bench for two people.
Build a house with a window.
Bridge the gap between two desks.
Create a container that moves.
Build a tower 4 inches tall.
Make a flower and its vase.
+ more

Visitors to the final presentation were able to create unique responses to the prompts!