The National Science Foundation [NSF] has provided funding to develop and test a large number of informal science and engineering initiatives over the years as well as several wide ranging curriculum series designed for afterschool programs. Charlie Hutchison was a lead curriculum developer for the Design It! engineering and design series, and the Explore It! science series. Together, these consist of 27 extended projects that challenge students to build and test simple machines or devices and to explore common and interesting phenomena in the world around them. All the projects use mostly simple and inexpensive materials. These projects can dovetail with and supplement formal science learning by building interest and confidence and by increasing students' use and understanding of the science process skills (practices) that may boost engagement and success in formal science classes.


Design It!: Engineering and Design Challenges

Developed at EDC in Waltham Mass and published by Kelvin Inc, each Design It! project consists of a sequence of engineering challenges that lead towards a well defined product -- a roller coaster, go-cart, bridge, glider, string telephone, pinball machine, trebuchet or a yo-yo – made out of commonly available and inexpensive materials. The students' primary focus is usually on the fun and challenge of making the device work. The long-term educational objective, however, is that they become familiar with the nature and characteristics of the materials themselves AND that they understand and practice the disciplines of engineering design and problem solving. For more information on these curriculum click here


Explore It!: Afterschool Science Investigations.

Also developed at EDC in Waltham Mass and published by Kelvin Inc, Students investigate a familiar phenomenon or principle of physical science -- balance, sinking and floating, baking, electric circuits, heat transfer and more -- using only very simple and inexpensive materials. This focus is on observing and speculating and experimenting and to make scientific investigation enjoyable and accessible to students who did not previously identify themselves as successful science learners. For more information on these curriculum click here

Design It! Engineering Curriculum

"During a site visit, I met a parent who said her daughter had felt ill in the morning, but refused to stay home “because she had to be at [Design It!] science club today” after school. This speaks volumes about how engaging the content is for young people."


    Afterschool Science Specialist.

Columbus, Ohio