StudentUnion connects college students pursuing STEAM degrees with K-12 students who are discovering early passions, skills, and confidence in STEAM. Our college-level Maker Fellow instructors apply their advanced university learning. And our budding engineers in elementary, middle, and high schools experience STEAM by building hands-on projects in in-school, afterschool, and summer camp settings (STEAM: science, tech, engineering, arts, math).

Minecraft Redstone Engineering, grades 2-6

Young engineers will level up their creative knowledge with our custom educational version of Minecraft. We’ll show them how to design and build with redstone, the information and electricity conducting material in Minecraft that can be used to teach students fundamental concepts of electrical and mechanical engineering, engineering design theory, and logic skills. We’ll use redstone circuitry to complete various projects that might involve moving devices, functional computing machines, or even audio visual sequences based on basic programing logic, all while the students are in a virtual world of their making. Minecraft becomes a powerful learning tool as we help guide our young makers into new discoveries about engineering, circuitry, computing, and design. Along the way these makers will also build skills in collaboration, communication, and digital citizenship. With MakerState’s help, Minecraft screen-time can be turned into STEM-mastery time.

Minecraft Coding, grades 3-6

Young programmers will have the opportunity to blur the lines of coding and virtualization with our custom educational version of Minecraft. By using the educational modification for Minecraft known as ComptuerCraftEDU, Makers will be able to create their own programs using the coding language LUA. While this programming language is not Java, it provides the same fundamental principles and experiences for programing while offering a distinct advantage, that whatever programs Makers create will be working in Minecraft immediately. These programs can range from a complex control program for a railway system, a wireless communication hub to operate all the functions of a farm, or even create a brand new game on a virtual computer within Minecraft itself. During this process students will have the opportunity build skills in collaboration, communication, and digital citizenship as they share their knowledge with others in their class and online. With MakerState’s help, students can turn an interest in how programs work into practical knowledge for today’s technology.

Minecraft Modding, grades 3-6, (with Javascript, grades 5-6)

Young designer and programmers will have the opportunity to modify both the aesthetics and operation of Minecraft with our custom educational version of Minecraft. Through the creation of these mods, younger students will have an opportunity to fully express their artistic abilities through their design choices, while also having an opportunity to gain a basic understanding of programming principles. Alternately, older students, while also enjoying the freedoms of artistic expression, will be able to hone their programing skills by creating Javascripts that directly alter the behavior of what they create in Minecraft. During this process students will have the opportunity build skills in collaboration, communication, and digital citizenship as they share their knowledge and creativity with others in their class and online. With MakerState’s help, students can turn modifying Minecraft into an interest in the arts and practical knowledge for today’s technology.

Minecraft Custom Mapping & Storytelling, grades 1-6

Young creators will have the opportunity to craft new worlds filled with history and adventure in our custom educational version of Minecraft. Students will draw upon their creative powers to develop a rich tapestry of settings, characters, and narratives to weave their tale. By using Minecraft as a Audio/Visual/Textual medium students are able to create interactive maps that allow their audience to experience this virtual world in a variety of ways. These maps can range anywhere from puzzles and skill based adventures that depend on direct interaction, to complex theatrical events guiding a participant through a story where they are merely an observer. During this process students will learn basic creative writing and artistic design principles as well as developing other skills in the arts. Additionally, students will have the opportunity build skills in collaboration, communication, and digital citizenship as they share their artistic creativity with others in their class and beyond. With MakerState’s help, students can turn storytelling through Minecraft into a lifelong passion for the arts.

Scratch Video Game Design Programming & 3D Design, grades 2-6

We’ll build programs, games, and animations using Scratch: the drag-and-drop, color-coded, event driven programming block editor, and create some epic 3D structures using the latest computer-aided design software (CAD). Young makers will learn the fundamentals of programming with this fun introduction from the MIT Media Lab including if/then statements, loop structures, data variables, mathematical and Boolean operators. These skills will be applied to create games as we explore design concepts such as objective, aesthetic, and difficulty curves. Makers will also design 3D objects and structures in TinkerCAD and learn the fundamental skills industrial designers, architects, and engineers use to design everything from toys and phones to robots and cars.

Role Playing Game Design with RPG Maker, grades 2-6

Have you played a game and thought, “I can make a better game than that?” Well, now you can learn how to make your own game in this course using RPG Maker! In this course Makers will be able to create their own characters and in addition build a unique story for that character. The theme for these stories will be based on the social and environmental problems that are important to them. Every week will be a new adventure; as the young Makers will add on different items and levels to progressively make the game they are creating come alive. Makers will be encouraged to collaborate with their peers in order to create the most imaginative world possible. To achieve this task, we will be using the video game creation software RPG Maker VX Ace Lite as the “game engine” for creating the video games. Makers will learn about various different game design concepts and strategies such as how to create a proper workflow for a project, what elements goes into creating a game, as well as computer flow logic for making game interactions. At the end of this program, Makers will have a fully functional game complete enemies, levels, puzzles, and at least one character of their own creation.

Mobile Game Design in Stencyl, grades 3-6

Introduces new mobile game designers to making games for phones and handheld devices with the powerful app development tool, Stencyl. Engineers will use a Scratch-like color-coded, drag and drop blocks system to create games and apps that they can actually play on their devices. We’ll create fun games like Space Invaders and the fundamentals of coding at the same time.

Space Engineers, grades 3-6

Join the Fiero Alliance with your fellow space engineers and work together to build and pilot physics-realistic space ships, repair massive space stations, and mine asteroids for real-world raw materials. MakerState uses Space Engineers, the state of the art sandbox game, to teach engineering, astrophysics-dependent construction, sustainability-centered exploration and creation in the far reaches of space. The game utilizes a realistic volumetric-based physics engine that reinforces the physics and astrophysics principles that are prerequisites to NASA astronaut training. If your child looks to the stars, this course is for them.

3D Design and Printing with TinkerCAD, grades 2-5

Budding 3D designers will create 3D objects and structures in TinkerCAD and learn the fundamental skills industrial designers, architects, and engineers use to design everything from toys, cars, and phones to robots, prosthetics, games, and animations. Computer Aided Design (CAD) is how modern engineers and artists design products in 3D for 3D printed prototyping and manufacturing modeling. TinkerCAD introduces kids to 3D CAD to design objects quickly and learn spatial awareness, geometry, math computation, and other fundamental skills needed in 3D design. Our designers will use the creative, collaborative, problem-solving method known as the Engineering Design Process (aka “Design Thinking”) to create in three dimensions with their fellow designers.

Rocket Scientists, grades 1-5

Budding rocket scientists will launch into the universe of aeronautical engineering and the physics and astrophysics behind our journey into space as we hand-build paper planes, sky cruisers, H2O shuttles, pop airplanes, and parachute rockets to discover fundamental STEM concepts that power and move our world. Our planes and rockets will apply lift, thrust and drag and help us discover such forces as gravity, energy, propulsion, acceleration, and velocity, forces involved in moving a car down the road, pedaling a bicycle, or shooting a rocket into space. A special emphasis will be on the scientific method and the Engineering Design Process as young scientists experiment, create, test, and prove their understanding of new concepts and skills in physics and engineering.

Paper Circuits, grades 2-6

Makers will create glowing faces, fire eyed tigers, graphite paper flashlights, lemon and penny batteries, motor coils, and maybe even a paper audio speaker or operation game in this hands-on, tech-crafts introduction to fundamentals of electricity and circuitry.

Inventor’s Club, grades 2-6

Young engineers will design smart electronics in this fun, project-centered introduction to creative DIY smart circuits. Our creations will light up, beep, spin, and inspire! We’ll explore circuit design with Snap Circuits and create sensors with littleBits. We’ll hand-write electrically conductive poems with CircuitScribe and build touch-sensitive devices with the MaKey MaKey controller, transforming everyday objects into buttons and switches. We’ll mold and shape our own circuit inputs with Squishy Circuits, a conductive Play-Doh material that emphasizes creativity. And we’ll make paper circuits and wearable electronics that allow us to interact with our world. This is a great introduction to “physical computing”, the Design Thinking Process, and computer hardware functionality and design…all without computers!

LEGO Mindstorms Robotics, grades 2-6

Makers will learn hardware and software programming and physics fundamentals such as projectile motion, gravity, force, acceleration, and friction by pairing in teams to build and program robots using the LEGO Mindstorms EV3 Robot system. Just like the engineers at MIT’s Media Lab, we’ll build Mindstorms robots that function in real environments and act as prototypes for innovation, from sustainable energy transportation systems, to store check outs to industrial manufacturing. Makers will program touch sensors, color sensors, gyroscopic sensors, ultrasonic sensors, and the motors that power them. Project activities culminate in challenges in which makers must combine and apply their new skills to solve intricate problems and play fun games.

Arduino Micro-Computing with the mBot Robot, grades 4-8

Young engineers will embark on a journey to create their own robot and understand the various fundamentals of robotics with the mBot Robot Kit. Engineers will first learn the various parts of the mBot kit and the proper way to assemble the pieces, relating back to basic mechanical engineering. Along with a strong mechanical understanding, engineers will be able to understand the various circuitry with basic physics with the use of the mCore, an Ardunio Board that controls the mBot. Engineers will understand the computing power of the mCore and how it is able to control the robot that they had built themselves. Once engineers master the mechanical and electrical aspect of the mBot, they will begin to program it with Scratch, a simple drag-and-drop, color-coded programming editor. Which at the conclusion they will be able to compete in a friendly robot competition. If the young makers are able to succeed in the Scratch programming, they will move forward to more advanced materials, such as coding in Arduino, a C derivative. Here they will be able to implement Bluetooth capabilities, the use of sensors and further customize their robot that they created themselves.

Junior Engineers, grades 1-3

Junior Engineers is a creative, hands-on introduction to concepts in design, physics, and engineering. We’ll build bridges, skyscrapers, derby cars, catapults, and many more DIY toys! Engineers explore concepts such as energy, gravity, elasticity, and pressure through cooperative problem-solving in these creative science-based projects.

Eco-Engineering, grades 1-3

Kids learn ecologically responsible design and efficient use, management and re-use of local and global resources in materials and energy in this hands-on eco-engineering Challenge series. We’ll focus on creating our own products, toys, and art that minimize environmentally destructive impacts by integrating what we create with living processes. We will build prototypes using green architecture techniques and terrariums that teach us organic life cycles, sustainable agriculture, and ecological engineering. And we’ll collaborate to create public art that fuses living matter with environmental advocacy, putting kids at the center of eco-education and awareness in their community.

Comic Book Storytelling, grades 1-6

Makers will create their own comics and in the process learn how to convey an idea in a logical sequence, tell a story, and collaborate with others. Makers will create stories with themselves as heroes solving real-world problems like bullying, sustainability, and littering with superpowers such as empathy, perseverance, courage, and self-discipline. Makers will be encouraged to initiate and create their own story themes and characters as well. We’ll use creative programs such as Pixton, which makers can continue to create with at home. Makers will have the option to see a take-home copy of their comic printed right before their eyes!

Digital Music Studio, grades 2-6

Transform the classroom into a recording studio with this Reason-based introduction to creating songs. Learn the fundamentals of digital music production, including recorded sound, MIDI instruments, synthesizers, and sampling. Next, make your recording sound pristine with mixing techniques like panning, equalization, compression, and reverb. Projects will range from hip-hop and electronic compositions to remixes of your favorite songs.

Stop Motion Moviemaking, grades 1-6

Lights, camera, action! Let’s discover our inner movie director by making animated movies! We’ll learn the science behind stop-motion animated films. We’ll start with mechanical forms of animation such as flipbooks, thaumatropes, and phenakistoscopes. Then, we will move on to stop-motion animation video production using whiteboard, cut paper, clay, and experimental materials. We will edit and add effects to our videos in post-production then share our finished products for the world to see. An emphasis will be placed on learning Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey” (the story framework found in most novels, legends, movies, and games) and storytelling mechanics such as plot arcs, character development, and conflict resolution.