Everyday Engineering: CU Teams

St. Vrain Valley School District has partnered with the University of Colorado at Boulder to incorporate authentic engineering into the classroom in a program called CU Teams. Engineering graduate students have the opportunity to pay for their school through teaching engineering lessons in K-12 public education.


The graduate student paired with our class this year was Abby Watson. She carefully viewed our state standards and found engaging engineering lessons to accompany them. Most of the lessons were pulled off the Teach Engineering website. The students were fortunate enough to have her once every two weeks which means that she dedicated one day a week to be in my class and she worked with several other teachers too.

Abby started off the year by introducing a mining activity to show the reality of natural resource depletion in Colorado. I will never forget the shock on the students faces when they understood the human impact on our earth. During our climate unit, Abby created a simulation in which students had to engineer a landscape that would withstand polar ice caps melting. Another lesson that the students really enjoyed was to simulate asteroid impacts on earth. They had to record the depth at which the asteroids hit and how their mass affected the strength of impact.

The following is a list of all the engineering activities she did throughout the year with our TRMS students.

-Ozone layer activity


-Climate change models with clay

-Climate change skepticism / truths activity

-Making moon craters

-Groundwater well models

-Landfill liners


-Mining for beads

-Oil on the ocean

-Air pressure activity stations (ping pong balls, paper tent)

-Water pressure activity

-Drawing orbits

-Water rockets

Abby was able to incorporate math into every single lesson! St. Vrain is very lucky to have this collaboration with CU because of the consistent engineering implementation.