At RAFT we strongly believe that hands-on learning is crucial to a student’s development and learning. Students who are more physically engaged in the learning experience tend to have a deeper understanding with higher engagement and improved outcomes.
Hands-on activities require materials that can be transformed into learning tools and experiences. It is estimated that teachers spend an average of $2,000 annually of their own money on classroom supplies bought from commercial, for-profit, companies.
But RAFT has an alternate solution based on Found Engineering. Found Engineering is the process of discovering or inventing new ways to repurpose “found” items into hands-on learning activities. This concept was inspired by the variety of materials donated to RAFT which could be combined and repurposed to enhance student learning and engagement..
The Guiding Principles of Found Engineering:
- Keep costs low so more teachers and students can participate.
- Use items that would normally be discarded or recycled to reduce costs, reduce waste, and support upcycling.
- Use low-cost, mass-produced items, such as paper clips, binder clips, straws, rubber bands, wooden craft sticks, stir sticks, toothpicks and cup lids.
- Join items in a way that can be easily undone (no tape or glue). This allows for the easy modification of the design and allows the items to be reused.
The Process of Found Engineering Involves:
- Exploring the properties of an item such as flexibility, ability to be written on, size, shape, can be easily cut, is an electrical insulator or conductor, and more.
- Looking beyond an item’s common uses.
- Finding items that can be joined together with the required loose or tight fit.
- Testing to ensure that the joined items, when manipulated, will stay together.
- If things do come apart, finding solutions with a modified design or new materials.
- Iterating on a design to find ways to allow easier assembly and require fewer parts and/or lead to a better method to accomplish the same goal.
Found Engineering embraces all aspects of STEAM and makes the process of hands-on learning more accessible to teachers, educators, students and families.
RAFT proudly continues to develop new resources to inspire joy in learning in a hands-on way.