RAFT Overview and Makerspace Video

This new promotional video contains three sections to be used with RAFT’s various audiences:

Section 1: Overview of RAFT’s retail and member services
Audience: Members, school districts, donors
Department use: Marketing, development

Section 2: New school-based makerspace support
Audience: Members, school districts, donors, staff
Department use: Marketing, development, internal

Section 3: Need and Strategy
Audience: Staff, board
Department use: Board, internal

RAFT Makerspaces - Summary

California’s adoption of new national standards create a demand for teaching resources that increase expectations, go deeper into core concepts and provide for a more applied, performance based curriculum. However, nationally in 2015, only 38% of fourth grade students were able demonstrate proficiency in science and 34% of eighth graders were able to demonstrate proficiency in science. In California, the problem is even worse as only 24% of student in both 4th and 8th grade were able to demonstrate proficiency in science.¹ As expectations rise and performance expectations move to the forefront, dramatically new teaching and learning resources are needed.

Why Makerspaces?

In response to this growing gap between the demand for more in-depth learning and current performance, school makerspaces have risen in demand as research encourages more opportunity for constructivist or “problem solving” learning experiences. Constructionism is the theory of learning that undergirds the maker movement’s focus on problem solving and digital and physical fabrication. The theory of constructionism places embodied, production-based experiences at the core of how people learn².

Hackspace.org lists over two thousand community-operated physical places where people share their interest in tinkering with technology, meet and work on their projects, and learn from each other. The greatest concentration of these spaces is in Europe, North America’s East Coast and North America’s West Coast. Makerspaces are growing nationally and internationally as a method to ensure that students have the opportunity to apply knowledge to real-world problem solving, as outlined in performance expectations set by new national standards.

RAFT Makerspaces

RAFT is strategically positioned to meet this new demand through its geographic location, reputation as a leader in hands-on learning and by providing up-cycled material resources to teachers, classrooms, schools and districts. As RAFT has historically been the bay area’s go-to for affordable resources, so will the organization continue to be at the forefront of serving resource needs for teachers, including classroom materials and professional learning and coaching as new educational practices emerge.

Santa Clara County contains a few more than two hundred fifty public elementary schools and eighty middle schools, while San Mateo County includes over one hundred elementary schools and over thirty middle schools. In the first two quarters of 2016, RAFT received over two dozen requests for assistance in creating school makerspaces (about 5% of the public school market). As well, the CDE Region 5 STEAM steering committee has reached out to RAFT to better serve schools and afterschool programs with coaching, mentorship, resources and expertise in developing spaces for constructivist learning through makerspaces.

A key component of creating academic success for students as expectations rise is to build capacity in teachers to meet new requirements outlined by new national standards and in research-based teaching methods. In response to the need for new teaching methods, data shared by CDE, and evaluation of RAFT’s 2014-2016 PD programs, RAFT is shifting its current product and service model to become part of a wraparound package that includes coaching, material resource support and inquiry-based curriculum.

Data shared from CDE’s Region 5 STEAM steering committee January 2016

Region 5 STEAM baseline survey - "What kinds of support is needed to improve/ extend STEAM learning at your school or program?"

Training in Design Thinking or PBL 67%
Training on Math Content 46%
Training on Science Content 61%
Coaching on STEAM implementation 60%
Resources 47%

Region 5 STEAM baseline survey - "How does your school currently implement STEAM learning opportunities?"

Integration into existing learning activities 53%
Implement stand alone (not integrated STEAM) single subject learning activities 32%
Implement packaged STEAM curriculum 9%
Implement Tech Academies programs 5%
RAFT (write-in) 9%

9% of respondents chose the “Other” option and wrote “RAFT” as their choice for packaged STEAM activities.



The new school-based coaching model eliminates barriers to effective professional development by delivering training on-site with a new emphasis on building relationships between RAFT coaches and teachers. By serving teachers in their own schools, we can drastically improve attendance in PL cohorts and better serve unique needs that teachers face at their individual schools.

Teachers at participating schools will engage with RAFT coaches on site for a minimum of four coaching sessions. RAFT can serve a teacher cohort of up to twenty-four teachers per school. The coaching model builds on the successes of the current cohort model, while making key changes to improve the effectiveness of the program.

Year Round Support

Coaching sessions build capacity for teacher professional learning communities to understand the most powerful components of constructivist learning, project-based learning and design thinking, as well as developing teacher’s understanding of creating learning experiences and mentoring other teachers.


Session 1 Goals Session 2 Goals Session 3 Goals Session 4 Goals
 Overview of makerspace initiative & planning for first makerspace lessons/ projects

Discussion of classroom management, student independence and set-up/ clean-up of makerspace work.

Learn to use existing raft.education curriculum.

Introduce Google Classroom.


In class development of one lesson/ unit.

Begin discussing mentorship of other teachers.

In class development of workshop plan for training other teachers at participant’s site.

Reflection on growth for 2016-2017.


Between Sessions 1 & 2   Between Sessions 2 & 3   Between Sessions 3 & 4
Participants set goals for visiting the makerspace for the first time & using RAFT curriculum with their RAFT coach (online through Google classroom) Participants set goals for implementing the lessons they created with their RAFT coach (online through Google classroom) Participants set goals for implementing and sharing the lessons they created with their RAFT coach (online through Google classroom)


In response to the national call for deeper learning and assessment of performance expectations, RAFT has created a new offering of curricular materials based on Stanford’s Design Thinking model³. Using research-based practices⁴ to develop a new model of integrated standards-based lessons, RAFT expects to see greater results in student achievement.

Teachers have expressed a desire, both formally and informally, that they prefer a demonstration of quality lessons before embarking upon the creation of their own learning experiences. To meet this request, we have created a budget for the development of 10 curricular units (each containing multiple individual lessons around core concepts) by RAFT’s master teachers and an additional 10 units co-created with teachers who participate in our 2016-2017 coaching series.

RAFT’s makerspace lessons are built using Stanford’s Design Thinking process. Design Thinking is a methodology used to solve real world problems. This process helps students to deeply understand a problem, learn and explore the concepts needed in finding solutions, and iterate on a solution while achieving proficiency with performance expectations.

ALL of RAFT’s STEAM lessons are built directly from NGSS performance expectations and Common Core MATH standards. The Design Thinking process is useful in deconstructing each concept used in a performance expectation and giving students ample practice before applying their understanding to an end-of-unit challenge that mirrors the performance expectation. Each unit authentically integrates multiple national standards and performance expectations, mirroring the integration of skills needed for real-world problem solving.

Throughout the year, RAFT master teachers and RAFT fellows will collect and co-create new lessons, projects and units to be published on RAFT’s website. These new units include teacher feedback and communication tools that allow best practices to be shared across all participating schools and all RAFT members.

Up-cycled Materials

To address issues with quality and distribution, and to respond to the call for a refined product outlined in goal one of RAFT’s strategic plan, the school makerspace initiative creates an opportunity to sell bulk up-cycled materials directly to schools. Providing material directly to schools eliminates some of the expenses of real estate, labor, and state-to-state sales regulations.

Reigniting Values

By reducing its own demand for purchased materials, RAFT can refocus on its abundance of donated materials ensuring a greener product to teachers and a more attractive mission to funders. As RAFT seeks new material and financial partnerships in Silicon Valley, a greener prospectus will yield a more synchronous and sustainable relationship.

Resource Areas

Resource Areas in Redwood City and San Jose remain at the forefront of our emphasis on supporting teachers professionally and financially. Recently, districts have reached out to RAFT to collaborate on makerspaces at district offices, an indication that teachers are seeking spaces to develop their own resources for their classrooms or get ahead of the trend on their own time. We intend to reward these innovative educators with the best customer service, the best selection of up-cycled materials, the most affordable resources for their classrooms, and an environment that supports their desire to build their own capacity as educators. To help create new opportunities for teacher-leaders and creators, we have created a makerspace for teachers at our Simon Center location in San Jose.

Delivery of Up-cycled Materials

By focusing on a small cohort of schools and using metrics from the spring supply of material to our initial school makerspace prototype, material supply to schools is expected to be well under 10 pallets of material. These up-cycled materials will be delivered by RAFT master teachers when they visit their cohort schools for programmed sessions or school visits.


Production costs and quality issues caused problems for grant-funded kit projects in late 2015 and early 2016. To correct these issues, lower overhead costs and to increase the effectiveness of learning experiences, RAFT has moved costly kits to a digital-only format. As well, RAFT has developed several new kits in partnership with corporate funders that rely solely on up-cycled donated materials.

Cost of Goods

In RAFT’s recent pivot towards a greater use of up-cycled materials in kits and a reduction of unpopular kits that rely on purchased resources, RAFT has already reduced the cost of goods by 20% in 2016. By reducing the amount of purchased goods to create kits and focusing new kit development on products that contain only up-cycled materials that are less popular in retail locations, RAFT can create more affordable kits, reduce overhead, improve effectiveness, and generate new opportunities for its real estate holdings.


As assessed in the RAFT strategic plan, challenges have been faced as RAFT has explored opportunities for growth. The school makerspace initiative is designed with growth in mind, creating low cost opportunities to explore growth without increasing overhead.

RAFT Fellows

In recent years, RAFT has supported a small group of educators who demonstrate a passion for education and enthusiasm in spreading the mission of RAFT. RAFT supports these exceptional member teachers with a $1,000 stipend for their year of service. For the 2016-2017 school year, RAFT will include teacher leaders from each participating makerspace school in this group for a total of ten teachers. This not only extends the value of the school makerspace service, but also ensures that RAFT will create a network of teachers who share the learnings of each site directly with other sites.

Teachers Coaching Teachers

As teachers at participating RAFT makerspace schools progress through the 2016-2017 school year, they will move through a continuum of learning to implement RAFT, curriculum to creating curriculum, to sharing what they have learned with other educators. While we maintain reasonable expectations for teacher growth in these areas, we intend to cultivate a small group of teachers who have the capacity and passion to become trainers for their peers. This will provide a reliable group of educators to populate the RAFT fellows cohort for the 2017-2018 school year, and support the development of hubs in each district that RAFT supports in 2016-2017.

District Hubs

Through the careful selection of participating schools in the 2016-2017 school year, a platform can be explored for development into expansion of the initiative throughout school districts. RAFT has chosen both Title I and mainstream public schools to work with in its first year of the school-based makerspace initiative that are both enthusiastic about constructivist education, and participation in the program. Through these strategically located schools, RAFT can explore future growth within their surrounding districts by assisting year one schools in becoming training hubs in year two.

Ongoing Material Support

Beyond 2017, RAFT will maintain the opportunity to supply schools with up-cycled materials, professional development and curriculum. As well, this creates opportunities to serve schools inside and outside the bay area with up-cycled materials and curriculum.

Financial Projections


Costs involved include material supply, RAFT master teacher hours coaching and developing curriculum, memberships, design consultation and creation of implementation plans to be carried out by school communities. Using implementation plans that help the schools create their own makerspaces keeps costs low and avoids providing a drastically new service (construction). RAFT’s partner, Projects Ember (helmed by co-founders of Tinkering School and Brightworks SF, Joshua Rothhaas and Katie Richmond), has joined as a design consultant to increase bandwidth and lower costs in launching multiple school-based makerspaces in the fall of 2016 and spring of 2017.

2016-17 School-based Makerspace Services Costs (Per School)

Item Amount Description
Design Consultation $ 4,800 RAFT’s design consultation team to assess needs with school community team and create a plan to implement the space
Implementation $1,800 RAFT will conduct a community event to help the school community create and stock the school makerspace. (Any costs associated with building or building materials are not included.)
Materials $ 1,500 Flat fee for year round stocking and re-stocking (up to 10 pallets) of RAFT upcycled materials
Memberships $20/ per teacher RAFT memberships can be purchased at a discounted rate.
Coaching and Evaluation $ 5,900 A RAFT coach to deliver year round professional learning and individual goal setting. RAFT will deliver a minimum of four sessions on site at the school, helping teachers to implement makerspace projects, design their own projects and learn to coach other teachers.

Total Per School (w/est. 50 memberships) $15,000


Item Type Goal # of Schools for 2016-2017 Income
Title I School Makerspaces Raised 5 $75,000
Fee for Service Makerspaces Earned 2 $30,000
Curriculum Development Raised 20 units / 80-100 lessons $160,000

Total initial goal: $265,000

Earned Income

Synapse School, a private school in Menlo Park, with annual tuition for students around $30K was among the first to reach out to RAFT to request the creation of a makerspace. Since then RAFT has been approached and has developed contracts with Saratoga School District, South San Francisco District and Eaton Elementary in Cupertino for fee-for-service makerspaces.

Raised Income

The raised income strategy includes a model to raise funds for multiple affordable individual school makerspace initiatives, as well as a donor pool of curriculum development. In the program’s first year, RAFT  has targeted a minimum of five Title I schools and currently has signed MOUs with four schools/ districts: Orchard District, Belle Haven School in the Ravenswood District, Blackford School and Sherman Oaks School in Campbell, and has created MOUs for Summerdale School in Berryessa and Mathson Middle School in the Alum Rock District.

School Makerspaces

School makerspaces have been costed out at a rate of ~$15K per school. For this cost, RAFT can supply an approximate 10 pallets of donated material to schools, provide design and implementation consultation. RAFT also provides four sessions of two to three hours of coaching for a cohort of up to 24 teachers, and the coaching program includes 50 additional hours per school to be used at the coach’s discretion to visit the schools, help teachers plan their lessons or even co-tech lessons as teachers gradually work toward becoming more proficient with hands-on learning. In addition, RAFT offers its curriculum platform of lessons and projects to all schools participating in the initiative.

Curriculum Development

RAFT’s master teachers have begun rigorous training in Stanford’s Design Thinking concept as it applies to education, training in delivery of professional development of Google’s suite of Classroom products, and in the development of new standards-focused lessons. Our new focus on specific standards at specific grade levels calls for a reboot (rather than realignment) of existing products. Our intent is to ensure that performance-based assessment takes place year round, and our corporate donors as well as foundations will respond to this focus as educational change takes hold in social media and the press.


Curriculum Development Budget

Item Amount
Project Management $11,200.00
Curriculum Planning & Design $3,800.00
Curriculum Writing $37,600.00
Editing & Proofreading $2,800.00
Piloting $4,000.00
Materials $800.00
Initial Online Publication $15,600.00
Online Curriculum Revisions $5,500.00
Marketing $2,875.00
RAFT Fellows Stipend $10,000.00
Evaluation $46,000.00
Total w/o Indirect Costs $140,175.00
Indirect Costs (14%) $19,624.50
TOTAL $159,799.50


Assessment metrics for school-based makerspaces

In the first year of the school makerspace initiate, RAFT will focus on collecting and evaluating data around student engagement, teacher skill development in the delivery of hands-on learning experiences, and collecting baseline data on student achievement.

California school districts reported a 23.8% truancy rate in the 2014-2015 school year⁵ and many of the school leaders working with the initiative in year one have expressed a need for assistance with this issue. RAFT is working with participating schools to use makerspaces as an incentive for before and after school activities, as well as making the school day more engaging. All schools will track student engagement data, and some schools will use incentives to help students arrive early and stay for the full day by offering makerspace activities during those times.

In addition, each school has agreed to share student achievement data with RAFT around standards targeted by RAFT’s design thinking curriculum. RAFT will create a plan during the design and implementation phase and development to track student achievement using pre and post tests, assessment items custom created with SRI, and test item data from state standardized tests. As well, each school will develop it’s own metrics and will collect data according to its own individual goals.

RAFT SRI Partnership

Stanford Research Institute has offered a gift of $20K in development services to create custom assessment items within its research-based assessment platform. RAFT and SRI will collaborate to create rigorous assessment items for a selection of RAFT’s newly developed lessons and projects. This data will yield a more comprehensive look at the effectiveness of RAFT’s products and services in student achievement.

This offer to co-create a prototype for makerspace assessment allows for more effective use of the evaluation funds in the table above. These funds can either be used to expand our assessment of the program or to develop new online tools for teacher assessment of students, which will also allow RAFT to collect achievement data.

References and Supporting Documents

  1. NAEP Report Cards – Home. (n.d.). Retrieved December 05, 2016, from http://www.nationsreportcard.gov/
  2. Erica Rosenfeld Halverson and Kimberly Sheridan (2014) The Maker Movement in Education. Harvard Educational Review: December 2014, Vol. 84, No. 4, pp. 495-504.
  3. The Design Thinking Process | ReDesigning Theater. (n.d.). Retrieved April 2, 2016, from http://dschool.stanford.edu/redesigningtheater/the-design-thinking-process/
  4. Koh, Joyce Hwee Ling, Ching Sing Chai, Benjamin Wong, and Huang-Yao Hong (2015) Design Thinking and Education.
  5. Truancy 2015 – Executive Summary. (2016). Retrieved December 05, 2016, from https://oag.ca.gov/truancy/2015

RAFT Strategic Plan

Evaluation of RAFT’s Professional Development Series 2015-2016 Report

Makerspace Playbook

Education Week May 2015 “School Librarians Push for More ‘Maker Spaces’

School Makerspace MOU Template

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