The Design & Pitch Challenges in STEM team built a set of project-based, innovation challenges aligned to grades 6-12 mathematics content. Each challenge places students in the role of STEM entrepreneurs competing in a start-up competition as they research, test, develop, and pitch innovative and entrepreneurial solutions to locally and globally relevant challenges. Our goal with these challenges is to improve students’ perceptions of themselves as mathematics learners, increase their interest in STEM careers, and support rich STEM learning, especially in mathematics. By aligning the challenges to the big ideas in middle grades mathematics, we hope to improve students’ conceptual understanding of math and highlight the connections between the math they learn in school and the math used by STEM professionals. We are working to further highlight these connections through videos of entrepreneurs discussing how they use STEM in new, innovative, and entrepreneurial ways.


Current Research Team Members

Dr. Michael Belcher

Margaret Borden

Ashley Loftis

Past Research Team Members

Dr. Jere Confrey

Josh Mannix


Feel free to reach out to us with questions about the materials or partnerships. You can reach the research team at

Design & Pitch Challenges in STEM is part of
the Scaling Up Digital Design Studies (SUDDS) research and development group.

Confrey, J., Krupa, E., & Belcher, M. (2019). Design & pitch challenges in STEM. Retrieved from: