Tool Development

Bridging the Gap Between Research and Practice

The Center’s tool-development process uses research-based drafting, field testing with formative evaluation studies, revision leading to commercial publication, and summative evaluation of the final materials.

Our Iterative Design Process


Our tools are grounded in what research says about how children learn and committed to translating that research into practice. The tool development process builds in time for the review and summary of relevant research. This part of the process often includes consultation with outside experts and internal products such as white papers that guide the drafting or revision of tools.

Field Test

UChicago STEM Education understands that tools are not valuable unless they are practical. This is why field testing is built into the tool-development cycle. During the development process, drafts of tools are shared with the appropriate stakeholders, who field test them in their own real-life contexts. Feedback from field testers is collected, analyzed, and shared to inform the development of the tool.


The feedback from field testing - as well as from internal and external reviewers - informs revisions to the tools under development before they are finalized. The feedback is invaluable in the creation of tools that are relevant and practical to real-world educational contexts.


When tools have been distributed and are being used more widely, there is an opportunity for external evaluation of the tools themselves. Evaluation gives data about the efficacy of the tools, and offers additional ways in which the tools might be revised, or further research that needs to happen to continue to iterative improvement of the tools.


“We love figuring out how to use the latest findings from research in the learning sciences to build tools that help kids learn. And then— what’s even more fun—we get to study how teachers in schools all across the country use those tools so we can revise what we’ve created based on what really works.”

Andy Isaacs

Discover tools that translate theory into practice

Our iterative approach to tool development has led to a wide array of instructional tools that are available to administrators, teachers, parents, and students in areas such as science, mathematics, financial education, computer science, and cryptography. Not only do these tools improve the educational experiences of students around the world, they also contribute to a growing research base around designing high-quality PreK-12 STEM instructional materials. Learn more about our innovative tools here:

Everyday Mathematics book cover and worksheet sample

Math CurriculumEveryday Mathematics

Everyday Mathematics is a comprehensive Pre-K through Grade 6 mathematics program developed by the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project and published by McGraw-Hill Education. Every year in the US, about 220,000 classrooms are using Everyday Mathematics.

finEDge financial education lesson plan covers and tablet with financial well-being map

Financial Education CurriculumfinEDge

finEDge is a one-semester, research-based financial education program for high schoolers. Created by the University of Chicago, the program's content and pedagogical approach are based on learning science, behavioral change research, and the latest information on effective design of formal and informal financial education experiences.

Teacher passes students pebbles in science classroom rocks

Science Curriculum

Activate Learning PRIME™ is UChicago STEM Education’s K-5 investigation-centered science curriculum, published by Activate Learning. AL PRIME engages children in learning science by doing science; and to link hands-on explorations with accurate science content through thinking, reflection, and discussion.

Crypto Club cipher handbook and tablet with crypto club logo

Supplemental Math CurriculumCryptoClub

The CryptoClub materials teach cryptography as an application of mathematics topics from the middle-grade curriculum.

Image of computer monitor with the Everyday Math Virtual Learning Community website open on browser

Digital Tool for TeachersVirtual Learning Community

The Everyday Mathematics Virtual Learning Community is an online resource for elementary mathematics teachers to view lesson videos, share instructional tools, and discuss problems of practice. It is used by over 56,000 educators.

Tablet and phone showing father and son using building blocks for math activity

Digital Tool for FamiliesBecoming a Math Family

Becoming a Math Family is an online toolkit for families of young children to engage in mathematics learning. Available as a website or app, the toolkit provides high-quality activities for families to do together and short clips describing important research in mathematics education.

Picture of Everyday Computing sample lesson plan

Computational Thinking CurriculumEveryday Computing

Everyday Computing (LTEC-2) is a collaborative NSF STEM+C project that seeks to understand how to integrate computational thinking (CT) into elementary mathematics. This work involves the development and evaluation of integrated elementary mathematics activities focused on fractions in 3rd and 4th grades with CT and computer science concepts that align to learning trajectories for elementary CT.