Introducing the Design Summits Program

Beginning in the 2023-24 school year, second through sixth grade students will participate in Design Summits: design and STEAM projects which culminate in presenting their work to the community in grade-level exhibitions and the annual STEAM Festival in April.

These projects provide students with an opportunity to exercise new skills learned in Science and Innovation & Design classes, demonstrate individual creativity, and showcase their work to the community.

Common Skills and Goals Across Projects


Working with peers to come to creative solutions, make discoveries, and problem-solve together


Iterating ideas and making plans through drawing or writing to guide the building process

Transferable skills

Learning skills that can be applied to other projects such as circuitry, woodworking, coding, planning, designing, articulating knowledge

Sixth Grade (C6) 3D Design Project

As part of their Innovation & Design curriculum, sixth grade students continue to learn the basics of CAD (computer-aided design) using the TinkerCAD platform. They build on their skills from previous years to construct 3-dimensional structures that can be 3D-printed and displayed in virtual and augmented reality spaces. For their Design Summit they partner with peers to research cities around the world and then design their own by mapping their city, deciding on the placement of important buildings and public spaces, and then drafting models in TinkerCAD.

Fifth Grade (C5) Robot Petting Zoo

Fifth grade students complete a large robotics project every year that begins after Winter Break. Students learn to code Arduino microcontrollers (Hummingbird Robotics) that include sensors, motors, and lights. Then, building on these new skills, they plan and build cardboard robots that can sense, think, and act. The robots move and light up in response to sensors being triggered (e.g., by light or movement). The project culminates in the Robot Petting Zoo event, where the community can see and interact with the robots.

Fourth Grade (C4) Wooden Animals

Fourth grade is an ideal age to begin to expose students to the use of hand tools and woodworking. For this project, students will work together in groups to build wooden animals that are built using pre-cut shapes joined together by nuts and bolts. To achieve this, students will plan out a design that includes a drawing of their animal that uses the available shapes and the location of holes to be drilled to join the shapes with nuts and bolts. Once their plans are approved, they will receive the pieces they will drill and assemble. Time permitting, an extension of this project can include students creating virtual representations of their animals in Scratch that can be programmed to move or respond to user interaction.

Third Grade (C3) EV Derby

Third grade students learn about basic electrical circuits. To apply this knowledge, students will create “EV cars” that are powered by simple circuits that power a small fan. Students will begin by constructing a simple vehicle that rolls and investigate what makes one move easily (construction, lack of friction, wheel placement, weight). Then students will begin to plan how they will combine their simple circuits and vehicles. The project will culminate in students testing and timing their vehicles as they move across a certain distance. Students will investigate why some vehicles move further and faster than others.

Second Grade (C2) States of Matter

During their school year, second grade students learn about the different states of matter. They investigate how matter can be a solid, liquid, gas, or colloid. Students will share with the community a demonstration of the behavior of substances that fall within the major categories. For example, is toothpaste a solid or liquid? What about shaving cream? Rather than displaying a finished product, this activity will provide students with an opportunity to teach their peers and adults in the community through an interactive display.
The Center for Early Education, a socio-economically and culturally diverse independent school for children, toddlers through grade six, strives to graduate students who are joyful, resilient, lifelong learners. The Center embraces a philosophy of education that combines a nurturing, inclusive learning environment with an increasingly challenging academic program that addresses the developmental needs of each child.