Bring STEM to your school with the Michael W. Neden Emerging Engineers Project 


Kid Spark Education has partnered with local philanthropists to provide funds for up to 20 elementary schools in San Diego County to implement Kid Spark's elementary STEM education program—valued at approximately $12,000 per school—in 2019/20. 

You can bring research-based, hands-on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education to your elementary school students...for free! Keep reading to learn more about how you can participate, or skip down to the application.

Applications for the Fall 2019 cohort are now closed. To be notified of the next application process, please fill out this form.


About the Kid Spark Elementary Program

Help your preK-5 students build critical 21st century skills in a fun and easy way.

Kid Spark empowers preK-5 teachers to implement hands-on, collaborative STEM lessons in their classroom without the need for a specialized STEM background. Through a research-based curriculum and innovative engineering materials, students establish STEM identity (seeing one’s self as capable of learning science, technology, engineering, and math) and experience technology fluency (confidence to creatively author with technology to solve problems). The Kid Spark program is designed to be self-sustaining after the initial implementation.

The Kid Spark Elementary Program impacts students and teachers in the following ways:

  • Elementary-school-aged children, especially girls, report a dramatic increase in how much they like or love engineering after they go through a Kid Spark program.
  • Teachers using Kid Spark programs report their students substantially increase their understanding of STEM concepts, and show increases in curiosity and creativity.
  • Teachers report significant increases in their own comfort with teaching STEM, including physics and engineering concepts.










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Kid Spark


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Mobile STEM

“I’m in my second year of teaching engineering concepts with Kid Spark to kindergartners. I am amazed at how easily the students learn and start applying math, science and engineering concepts with Kid Spark. Since the concepts are taught in the context of designing, building and improving various types of structures, students are motivated to apply these concepts immediately in order to improve their creations. Everyone is engaged and everyone improves his/her knowledge about designing strong and useful structures.”

-Lisa Schifrin
Teacher at Chollas Mead Elementary School, San Diego, CA

Kid Spark STEM Elementary Program Curriculum

The elementary program covers the first two phases of our preK-8th grade curriculum. As your students progress through the STEM lessons, they engage in key engineering practices that include gathering information, explaining how things work, problem-solving, and critical thinking.



Foundational Fluencies

Educators mentor students to develop foundational capacities prerequisite to all STEM learning, like spatial reasoning, problem-solving, and symbolization. While many students learn these fluencies at home, this phase helps fill in critical gaps that may exist, especially for underserved students.


Foundational Fluencies

Units of Instruction

  • It's All About the Blocks
  • I Am an Engineer
  • Is it Strong?
  • Does it Move?


STEM Fundamentals

Students begin exploring important STEM topics such as applied mathematics, mechanical engineering, and robotics. Students focus on intuitive STEM concepts like how to make things strong and how to make things move. As a result, kids gain confidence in their ability to use technology to design solutions to problems. 

STEM Fundamentals

Units of Instruction

  • Engineering Basics
  • Mechanisms & Movement
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Robotics - 101
  • Robotics - Exploring Sensors
View Elementary Curriculum

Kid Spark STEM programs teach the practices and cross-cutting concepts used for all scientific learning as prescribed in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).


Meet the Mobile STEM Labs

Goodbye, popsicle sticks! Kid Spark's robust and reusable labs are organized and unintimidating; the larger scale elements allow for collaborative learning. The entire curriculum can be taught using the same two labs year after year, across grade levels and topics. Labs can be stacked on top of one another and simply rolled to where you need it. One lab serves four students.


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Supports the preK-5th grade curriculum.

Early lessons focus on foundational fluencies that include reading step-by-step instructions, symbolization, measuring, patterns, and symmetry. Students then transition into more challenging concepts like how to make things move, how to make things strong, applied mathematics, the design and engineering cycle, and other foundational fluencies key to building their STEM identity.


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Supports the 3-8th grade curriculum.

Later lessons focus on mechanisms and movement, applied mathematics, programmable robotics and computational thinking, simple and compound machines, and rapid prototyping and 3D printing. Students drive their own learning through hands-on design and engineering challenges by defining problems, asking questions, and challenging their own thinking to learn through iteration.










Any caring educator can teach elementary STEM

We'll help you get there with training and support 

Many general education teachers have some anxiety about teaching STEM programs, especially if they don't have specialized training in STEM. But with Kid Spark, any teacher can master what it takes to become a STEM mentor.

When you participate in the Emerging Engineers Project, Kid Spark will help you develop your capacities as a STEM mentor in the following ways:

  • A one-day, eight hour hands-on training led by Kid Spark staff
  • 24/7 access to self-paced, online learning modules
  • Check-ins with Kid Spark staff throughout the year
  • Professional development resources sent to your email address for continued learning

We'll give you what you need to be successful

Participating schools receive:

  • 8 ROK Blocks and 8 Engineering Pathways Mobile STEM labs to serve up to 32 students at any one time
  • 8 hours of hands-on training by Kid Spark trainers
  • A sample lesson plan schedule
  • 24/7 access to Kid Spark’s online curriculum and professional learning library
  • Regular support from the Kid Spark staff
  • A stipend for teachers who help to evaluate the program (including completing occasional surveys and an end-of-project focus group)
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Thanks to generous philanthropic partners, these resources are available at no cost to participating schools (valued at $12,000 per school).

The Emerging Engineers Project Timeline

Fall 2019 Cohort

  • July 15 – Applications due  
  • August/September – Teacher trainings
  • September – Teachers begin using the program in their classrooms

Winter 2020 Cohort

  • November 1 – Applications due
  • January – Teacher trainings
  • February – Teachers begin using the program in their classrooms

Want to bring Kid Spark to your school?

Teacher buy-in is critical to the success of the project. We're happy to attend a school staff meeting to give a 20-minute hands-on demo and answer any questions teachers might have. Once your school decides you want to participate and you meet the qualifications listed below, your school can submit a brief application, located at the bottom of this page. 

To be eligible for the Emerging Engineers Project, your school will need to be able to do the following things:

  • Provide a space to store the Mobile STEM labs (6 lab sets, each with an 18”x18” footprint).
  • Cover the cost of substitute teachers during teacher training. We'll make every effort possible to schedule trainings at a time when substitutes aren’t necessary, though.
  • Identify at least one teacher in three consecutive grade levels who will commit to implementing the program in their classroom in Year One (e.g. preK through 1st, 1st through 3rd, or 3rd through 5th). The strongest applicants will be able to identify multiple teachers in multiple grade levels.
  • Ensure all participating teachers go through 8 hours of on-site training led by Kid Spark trainers. Depending on location and timing, this training would occur at the school or in conjunction with another local school.
  • Allow a small team of Kid Spark researchers to conduct occasional teacher surveys and interviews, as well as do at least one classroom observation during the year. Teachers who participate in the evaluation process will receive a small stipend.
  • Submit an application by July 15 to participate in the project.

Preference will be given to schools receiving Title 1 funds but all schools are encouraged to apply. Funding will be provided to up to 30 schools in 2019/2020.

Still have questions? Please contact Jena Olson at

Ready to apply?

Fill out the Emerging Engineers Application Form below and we'll be in touch shortly!