After assembling a stethoscope, a student listens for a heartbeat

For more than 20 years, RAFT, Resource Area For Teaching has been developing creative tools and techniques for educators to make STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education engaging and effective in building real-world connections and confidence in these essential subjects. With the global economy changing at a rapid pace, students not only need to be versed in STEM, but must also develop complementary 21st-century skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, and communication.

RAFT’s mission is to get affordable, creative, engaging hands-on learning tools into the hands of our nation’s educators and students to nurture lifelong learners. Creating unique tools that are flexible and adaptable makes them ideal for all levels and abilities of learners. RAFT believes that the best way to spark the love of learning for the next generation of thinkers, innovators, problem solvers, and creators is through hands-on learning. 93% of educators who use RAFT hands-on activities report that their students are more engaged in learning and retain knowledge longer as a result of these activities.

“Over the years, RAFT has become my lifeline for supplies and standards-linked teaching materials: everything from paper to science equipment, project supplies, and math manipulatives,” says Julie DiMaio, a primary school teacher and Cub Scout leader. “RAFT’s Activity Kits are just what the kids need to bring a concept to life. They allow me to engage an entire classroom at a fraction of the cost of creating projects myself. I’m able to use limited budgets and personal money to quickly obtain extremely helpful teaching tools.”

RAFT operates educator resource centers in California and Colorado and also offers a wealth of online resources available to anyone for free. More than 700 Idea Sheets – guides for hands-on activities that use commonly found materials – are searchable by subject, grade level, or academic standards (Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards) and many are also aligned to Scouting badges. The organization continually creates new Idea Sheets to meet the curriculum needs of educators. RAFT’s newest activity Brace Yourself uses craft sticks and binder clips to help students learn about earthquakes, structures and vibration. Brace Yourself will soon join dozens of other Idea Sheets as an Activity Kit complete with all necessary materials to make it more convenient for educators to use hands-on learning techniques with their students.

The popular and effective hands-on Activity Kits – ready-to-go projects to enhance learning for students on a variety of subjects – are now available online. Activities such as a build-it-yourself stethoscope and the puff rocket allow students to explore science and math concepts in a memorable way. These effective tools are affordable enough for a parent to use at home, or for a teacher to use for an entire classroom. Savings passed on to educators are made possible by volunteers who assemble the Activity Kits with a mix of donated and purchased materials.

The newly launched RAFT Online account provides qualified educators around the country with the option to sign up for an annual membership with further-reduced prices on the Activity Kits. Now access to affordable and inspirational hands-on learning resources is available to all educators, fulfilling the organization’s mission. To learn more about RAFT’s resources for educators, visit http://www.raft.729solutions.com.

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