STEM & Design Challenges
are the heart of our program.

Schools use FUSE to establish a new STEAM studio or STEM Lab, or to complement other STEM curricula. FUSE packages include between 10 and 30 custom Challenges, and include kits, technical support, and, at the Innovate and Create level, 3D printers and vinyl cutters. FUSE Challenges are developed around student interests in media, technology and design.

We train teachers to facilitate FUSE and support them as they build out the FUSE studio. As facilitators release Challenges over time, students develop a studio culture of support and experimentation with Challenges including architecture, jewelry design, coding, 3D modeling and printing. Implementation models range from Science, STEM or Technology electives, after-school clubs, summer camps.

Our Design Principles



Students in FUSE have access to a diverse suite of challenges. They choose who they work with and whether they work alone or collaboratively. This choice and interest-centered environment helps all students find challenges which inspire learning and engagement.


of youth report discovering a new interest in FUSE




FUSE challenges are designed around student interests in music, design, and pop culture and are embedded with STEAM practices. These interests serve as a hook, motivating students to progress through challenges and, in the process, discover new STEAM-related interests. 75% of students in FUSE report that they discovered a new interest that could be relevant to their future lives.




In FUSE, teachers act as facilitators, helping to guide the process of exploration and discovery by encouraging youth to problem solve, take risks, try and try again, be creative, and learn with and from their peers.




of surveyed participants described peer support as important to the development of new interests.

Because students work on challenges in a different order and at different paces, they develop unique expertise that they share with their peers. Students become leaders, peer mentors, and experts in a variety of STEAM-related tools and practices.



FUSE creates a collaborative, student-driven learning community. Students show willingness to persist in solving difficult problems in FUSE.


Student Experience in FUSE

A FUSE Studio is a place where many different activities, based in the challenges, are happening at once! How does that look for a student, and what do they work on during a FUSE studio? This section lays out the 'typical' sequence of a daily FUSE experience.

Sign in to FUSE

Students start by signing in to the FUSE website. Here they can easily resume work in progress or browse the challenges for something new.

Choose a Challenge

The challenges available in the studio are set by the facilitator. Opening a wide range of challenges encourages exploration and identification of new interests.

Start Level One

Level One of each challenge is designed to be enjoyable, accessible, and easy to complete within a 45 minute time frame.

Ask for Help

When students get stuck, they turn for help to videos on the FUSE website or their peers. Facilitators play a crucial role here supporting students as they find their own answers.

Upload to FUSE

Students upload their progress to the FUSE website. Students save and complete their work on the FUSE site, which allows them to move between computers and classrooms and to create a portfolio of FUSE projects.

Level Up

To complete a Level, students upload their work to the FUSE website. This unlocks the next Level of the Challenge.

Try Something New

Student choice is key. Students work through the challenges at their own pace and based on what they want to do in the studio. Students will join a group working on something interesting, or join a peer struggling to solve a problem. The flexibility of the FUSE model means students truly have voice and choice in the work they do in FUSE.


The Interest-driven FUSE Studio

While this is a typical path through a day in FUSE, every student approaches FUSE differently. Some students go deep on a particular area of interest, working on their own in an area like game design or 3D animation. Others work all the way through the levels of a challenge. Students explore multiple challenges in an area of interest, like programming. Others browse and explore the first level of many challenges. This diversity of activity creates a strong collaborative, supportive FUSE culture.

FUSE Outcomes

Research shows that FUSE enables youth to discover new interests in STEAM and supports the development of 21st-century skills such as persistence, adaptive problem solving, and collaboration.

Girls and boys persist through FUSE at consistently high rates and, as noted by students and teachers, learn important skills that transfer to their work in the classroom. Significant research has been conducted on FUSE, supported by multiple grants from the National Science Foundation.


FUSE Studio Models

The FUSE model is designed to be flexible and can be implemented in a variety of school-based and informal contexts. We work closely with partners to build successful implementations specific to their goals, needs, and the youth they serve. Most FUSE studios are located in schools and are offered as a class that meets multiple times a week.


A regular studio schedule builds a strong collaborative community in FUSE.

MIDDLE SCHOOL STEM Enrichment Course
SST Schools, TX

The most common model implemented by our school partners is a STEM Enrichment or Science elective course. The SST charter school network in Texas implements FUSE in nine of its middle schools across the state, reaching an average of 60 students per school. Students in these classes meet for 90 mins/week for the full academic year.

Dream Home, an architecture challenge, is one of the most popular challenges in FUSE.

District 54, Schaumburg, IL

All 4,000+ 5th and 6th graders in District 54’s 21 elementary schools experience FUSE as an engineering unit in their traditional science curriculum. This NGSS-aligned unit is taught by a dedicated FUSE teacher in each building as different classes rotate through the unit. District 54 has been partnering with FUSE since 2013, experimenting with implementation models and spreading FUSE across the district, from STEM academies to all D54 schools over a two-year period.


Students become experts in the studio in their areas of interest.

Chicago Public Schools, IL

Several high schools in Chicago have implemented FUSE as a full-year, credit-bearing science elective. This NGSS aligned class meets for 250+ minutes per week and is offered for multiple sections, reaching 50+ students every year. Room 216 at Al Raby High School shared their FUSE experience on Twitter. The FUSE team worked with Chicago Public Schools Science Department chairs to align FUSE to the district's STEM and NGSS objectives.

Peer support and collaboration are important features of the FUSE model.

Arlington Elementary School, Spokane, WA

All of the students in 3rd-6th grade at Arlington Elementary School experience FUSE as the curriculum for their STEAM specials class. Students go to the FUSE classroom two times a week for an hour.


FUSE is aligned with a variety of standards including NGSS, Common Core, and ISTE. We work closely with teachers and administrators during FUSE trainings to help match the FUSE implementation model to the standards they wish to target.