RAFT and Citizen Schools partners on a pilot project to evaluate effectiveness of RAFT Activity Kits

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6th and 7th Graders having fun while learning with the RAFT Owl Pellet Activity Kit


San Jose, Calif. – Resource Area for Teaching (RAFT) and Citizen Schools are collaborating on a ten-week pilot project to evaluate the effectiveness of ’Hands-On’ activities in after school STEM education through December 13th, 2011. The students from Kennedy Middle School and Mc Kinley Institute of Technology in Redwood City  will use a variety of projects from dissecting ‘owl pellets’ to learning about water absorption in plants in the two STEM apprenticeships – ‘CSI: Kennedy,’ and ‘Don’t Pave My Bay, Bro!’. The two programs focus on forensic sciences and environmental awareness respectively.

The Citizen Schools program instructors, Benjamin Arnold and Daniel Chang use RAFT Activity Kits and RAFT’s repurposed materials to introduce middle-schoolers to exciting real world project simulations. During the past weeks, students used RAFT materials to understand concepts on DNA modeling, artificial blood and footprint casting, while Daniel Chang used RAFT’s Shake Table Activity Kit to model wet soil, among the many other activities. Benjamin Arnold says, “Students became investigators in their “CSI” apprenticeship, solving different hypothetical crimes by gathering evidence by using RAFT activities!”

Both the groups will present their results at a ‘WOW Event’ on December 13th. Attendees get to unravel a crime using RAFT Activity Kits to gather the clues while students in the ‘Don’t Pave my Bay, Bro!’ program will present their findings in a science-fair setting.

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Middle-schoolers explore heating and cooking with the RAFT Solar Cone Cooker Activity Kit


Daniel Chang describes the importance of RAFT’s ‘Hands-On’ Activity Kits, “The students will showcase their learning, demonstrate the power of RAFT Activity Kits, and highlight the resourcefulness of RAFT for teachers. The attendees will be impressed by our students’ creative use of RAFT Activity Kits using commonly found materials in their presentations.”

Adds Greg Brown, Education Director at RAFT, “RAFT and Citizen Schools are perfect partners because our goals are so closely aligned.  We both work to bring real-world experiences into the classroom.  RAFT ‘Hands-On’ Activity Kits, in the hands of Citizen School instructors, create powerful opportunities for real-world learning.”

RAFT makes it easy to “go green”– reusing everything from bottle caps and bubble wrap to discarded wood or foam packaging — and they become part of Science, math or Art activities.  RAFT also provides training and professional development for Bay Area educators, ensuring that they’re ready to connect and leverage the creative use of Activity Kits in the classroom while teaching to state standards.

Citizen Schools is an expanded learning time initiative that partners with middle schools to provide a longer school day. With Citizen Schools, students program their own video games, or redesign buildings with a local architect, or investigate a forensic mystery using basic chemistry – all the while bringing relevance to their education.

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