STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math
In the Cranberry Pines Elementary Fab Lab, students in grades K-5 will explore multiple topics associated with STEM, including engineering, makerspace, and computer science units. 
If you stop by the CP Fab Lab, you may see students:
  • Learning about different fields of engineering
  • Collaborating with peers to work through the Engineering Design Process
  • Constructing and testing their creations
  • Coding with different robotics
  • Using the Google G-Suite on Chromebooks
  • Practicing digital citizenship
See below for more specifics of our STEM program at Cranberry Pines!
1st Grade: To Get to the Other Side: Designing Bridges
This unit introduces the principles behind bridge design with the storybook Javier Builds a Bridge, about a boy who needs a safe footbridge to get to his island play fort. Students will reinforce their understanding of “push” and “pull” as they explore how forces act on different structures. They’ll use what they know about balance and force as they experiment with beam, arch, and suspension bridges—and learn how bridge designs counteract and redirect forces and motion. In the final design challenge, students plan, build, and test their own bridges.

2nd Grade: A Work in Process: Improving a Play Dough Process
If you’ve ever followed a recipe, you know that the amount of each ingredient and the order in which you mix them matters. Chemical engineers use these same principles when designing processes. When students read the storybook Michelle’s MVP Award, they learn about a girl who designs a better way to make play-dough. The activities in this unit reinforce the science concepts “solid” and “liquid” as students explore the properties of different materials—and the properties of mixtures of materials. The final engineering design challenge? Design a process for making high-quality play dough.

3rd Grade: The Attraction is Obvious: Designing Maglev Systems
Innovative “maglev” or magnetic levitation trains move by using magnets instead of wheels. The technological innovation behind these trains comes alive for students in this transportation engineering unit. Students will send magnets sailing, help magnets hover and poke around magnetic fields. With their new insights into the science of magnets, students will use the engineering design process to design, test, and improve their own tabletop maglev transportation systems—just like the character in the storybook Hikaru’s Toy Troubles.

4th Grade: A Stick in the Mud: Evaluating a Landscape
The storybook that anchors this unit, Suman Crosses the Karnali River, takes students to Nepal, where people rely on innovative cable bridges called TarPuls to cross flooded rivers during monsoon season. Digging into the role of geotechnical engineers, students must select a safe, flood-proof, and erosion-proof location for a new TarPul. Working with a model riverbank, they study soil properties, examine maps to assess the potential for erosion at different sites along the river, and factor in the villagers’ preferences for a TarPul location.

5th Grade: A Slick Solution: Cleaning an Oil Spill
An oil spill can be deadly for fish, plants, and other organisms in the river ecosystem. Through the storybook Tehya’s Pollution Solution, students learn about a spill on the Elwha River in the Pacific Northwest. Applying their knowledge of ecosystems and food webs, students will test water quality and also the oil-absorbing properties of different materials as they engineer a process for cleaning up an oil spill. This unit introduces students to the field of environmental engineering.
Makerspace provides hands-on, creative ways to encourage students to design, experiment, build, and invent as they deeply engage in science, engineering, and tinkering in grades K-5.


What is the engineering design process and why is it important to follow?

  • Understand the terms engineer, engineering and EDP
  • Work in teams to learn accountable talk, share, taking turns, and communicate effectively
  • Recognize the goals of Growth Mindset: imagination perseverance, failure/success
  • Explore and manipulate materials
  • Retrieve, use and clean-up materials appropriately 

1st Grade

Can you build a structure that meets the needs of a community?

  • Recognize key components of the design process 
  • Define teamwork
  • Create guidelines for working in a group together
  • Collaborate with other students to accomplish the project goals
  • Explore and manipulate materials
  • Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate ideas and building plans
  • Construct 2D shapes and 3D models

2nd grade

What problem in your life could you solve by building something with recycled materials?

  • Understand that materials can be transformed and manipulated to create something new
  • Communicate a plan for completing a project using a simple sketch or drawing and label the key components of the design
  • Collaborate, cooperate and communicate while creating
  • Objectively describe ways to improve the design

3rd Grade

How would you improve a design so the product performs better?

  • Understand that technology has changed transportation over time
  • Work through the engineering design process to plan, build, and test a car powered by a balloon
  • Improve a design using available resources
  • Understand the concept of prototype and create a model that is used for testing before it is manufactured
  • Understand technical drawing with labels and measurements

4th Grade

Can you design and build a creation tailored to fit certain needs while adhering to constraints?

  • Imagine creations based on a predetermined set of needs
  • Solve design challenge using available resources
  • Create a technical drawing with correct measurements and labels
  • Understand technical drawings from different perspectives and viewpoints 
  • Collaborate, combine and/or revise ideas based on group’s/partner’s plan
  • Understand and work according to constraints and budgets

5th Grade

How will you solve problems through the power of invention and innovation?

  • Identify a problem, conduct research, and brainstorm solutions
  • Develop, implement, and communicate new ideas to others effectively
  • Sketch, model or build a prototype and/or technical drawing with correct measurements, different perspectives, and labels
  • Review the invention for strengths and weaknesses
  • Demonstrate originality and inventiveness in work and understand the real-world limits to adopting new ideas
  • View failure as an opportunity to learn; understand that creativity and innovation are a long-term, cyclical process of small successes and frequent mistakes
  • Understand and work according to constraints and budgets
  • Understand protecting their intellectual property through a patent or trademark
Students will learn basic computer science concepts.  The program is designed for students to apply their algorithmic, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills through their involvement with various lessons.


  • sequencing
  • loops
  • problem-solving
  • persistence
  • creativity
  • collaboration
  • communication
Digital Citizenship
  • Keeping personal information private
  • Cyberbullying
  • Phishing
  • Being SMART online
  • Working together to solve problems
  • Writing code and adapting existing code to their own projects
  • Working with teachers and peers to troubleshoot code
  • Participating in unplugged activities (that do not use technology), to introduce them to computer science fundamentals
  • Ozobots
  • Dash
  • Makey Makey
  • Code-A-Pillars
  • Sphero Balls