Making STEM Connections


“This project will introduce 3rd through 5th grade students to ‘making’, a hands on approach to STEM education that encourages creativity, problem-solving and collaboration through activities involving building, tinkering and creating.”

-- Dr. Corey Lunn, Superintendent, Johnston Community School District, Iowa

Program Type

Curriculum/Instructional Materials
Teacher Development/Training
Hands on/Project-Based
Informal /Out of School

Target Audience

Teachers/Educational Leaders




Pre-K - 5

 Accomplished link

Program Impact

The aim of Making STEM Connections is to provide training, resources and materials to educators that will translate into meaningful learning outcomes for their students. Making STEM Connections plans to equip over 120 teachers annually with the skills and necessary materials to enhance their existing curriculum thru Maker’s principals. These connections will lead over 15,000 elementary students over the course of five years to explore STEM principles in a highly-engaging, interactive and safe manner.


Program Overview

The Science Center of Iowa’s Making STEM Connections program provides elementary school teachers, as well as out-of-school, after school and camp program facilitators, conceptual materials and professional development for bringing the Maker’s movement into their learning space. The Making philosophy directs students to use their hands in conjunction with their minds to build enduring learning connections.

Making STEM Connections is designed to empower teachers to cultivate more engaging, purposeful and successful extensions of their already developed curriculum. The Making philosophy directs students to use their hands in conjunction with their minds to produce meaningful learning outcomes. Educating teachers on the process of Making as well as familiarizing them with the tools and materials to be used will be the cornerstone of the Making STEM Connections professional development. Teachers are provided with a curricular framework to develop STEM principles and enhance those already existing in their classroom using Maker’s materials and skills.

How To Get Involved

Making STEM Connections is a scholastic product for educators including books, building materials, tools and other resources. Sponsors can provide this resource for teachers in the following ways:

  • Supporting Professional Development for educators at a cost of $1500 per professional development session.
  • Investing in classroom Makers kits, including safety goggles, books, plyers, soldering iron, sewing machine, LEDs, alligator clips, felting needles, drill and screwdrivers at a cost of $4000/kit.


Design Principles

The programs in this database clear a high bar. STEMworks reviewed each program against the Design Principles for Effective STEM Philanthropy.

  • Accomplished
  • Developing
  • Undeveloped

Overarching Principles

  • Need

    Identify and target a compelling and well-defined need.

  • Evaluation

    Use rigorous evaluation to continuously measure and inform progress towards the compelling need identified.

  • Sustainability

    Ensure work is sustainable.

  • Replication and Scalability

    Demonstrate replicability and scalability.

  • Partnerships

    Create high impact partnerships

  • Capacity

    Ensure organizational capacity to achieve goals.

STEM Principles

  • Challenging and Relevant Content

    Offer challenging and relevant STEM content for the target audience

  • STEM Practices

    Incorporate and encourage STEM practices.

  • Inspiration

    Inspire interest and engagement in STEM.

  • Under-Represented Groups

    Identify and address the needs of under-represented groups.