ASA Design Cycle

The ASA Design Cycle was selected by the STEAM Team committee in November 2019 to serve as the unifying approach to making, engineering, and design at ASA. This model is by no means perfect, but it does represent a common language and framework that teachers of all disciplines can use to guide students in making projects, collaborate together, and build transdisciplinary making experiences for our students.

Maker experiences and the ASA Design Cycle are based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) engineering framework of Define, Develop and Optimize. Teachers utilize the Understanding by Design (UbD) lesson philosophy and planning approach to ensure that there is a clear emphasis on standards and a vision of the assessment. Maker experiences are typically integrated units that fuse standards from multiple disciplines and are developed in coordination with the established curriculum models that ASA has adopted, such as FOSS Science, Readers and Writers Workshop, Second Step, and Big Ideas Math.

NGSS Engineering Cycle

ASA Design Cycle

Design Cycle Stages


Students identify the problem, requirements that must be met, and constraints that must be considered.

What is the problem? How have others approached it? What are your constraints?


Students brainstorm solutions and research ideas. They also identify what others have done. What are some solutions? Brainstorm ideas. Choose one.


Students choose two to three of the best ideas from their brainstormed list and sketch possible designs, ultimately choosing a single design to prototype. Draw a diagram. Make lists of materials you will need.


Students build a working model, or prototype, that aligns with design requirements and that is within design constraints. Follow your plan and create something. Test it out!


Students evaluate the solution through testing; they collect and analyze data; they summarize strengths and weaknesses of their design that were revealed during testing. What works? What doesn’t? What could be better?


Based on the results of their tests, students make improvements on their design. They also identify changes they will make and justify their revisions. Modify your design to make it better. Test it out again!