I had so much fun yesterday I wish I could go back and do it again today! For the past two years, I have been running a mini makerspace at Edcamp STEAM with @Davezirk and it has been very popular. This year, the folks organizing EdcampNJ asked if I’d be willing to run a similar makerspace at their event. Silly question! My answer was a resounding YES. Thanks to a generous donation from Caldwell University, I was able to set up a large makerspace in the gym with Dave. This was accomplished thanks to the newly named Meri’s Mobile Makerspace (TM according to @iSuperEit) – with the help of a large rolling bin, several dollar stores, Radio Shack, and Lowes, I was able to host a ton of fun, simple, educational activities for the Edcampers to try out. From the feedback I heard, it was a big hit. I had many wonderful conversations with fellow educators and administrators on how to begin and implement a makerspace/STEM lab in their districts.
As always happens at an Edcamp, in addition to sharing my ideas and experiences, I heard a ton of great ideas from other folks, too. One awesome idea for schools short on space was to make up activity boxes – xerox boxes filled with supplies needed for a single activity – and set up a rotation for use in the cafeteria during inclement weather days. I love it! It fits in so well with my idea that makerspaces/STEM labs don’t need to be large, expensive, or in a fixed location, but can scale up or down to fit your needs.
People were amazed at how inexpensive it was to acquire the materials needed for the activities. Trust me, folks, the dollar store is a makerspace’s best friend. 95% of the supplies I brought were from the dollar stores around me, with just a few items purchased at Radio Shack and Lowes. I’ve had requests for a breakdown of the items I had in the makerspace, so here we go:
Radio Shack (many of these items can be found a lot cheaper and in bulk on Amazon!)
- 3 volt coin cell batteries (if you can, buy in bulk on Amazon for much cheaper)
- Some simple hand tools – wire stripper, pliers, etc.
- duct tape
- glue gun
- plastic straws, both bendy and non
- marshmallows (regular and small)
- rubber bands
- craft sticks (popsicle sticks)
- plastic spoons
- gummy worms
- gummy lifesavers
- toothbrushes – regular
- toothbrushes – electric (these rock – you can crack them open to get the vibration motor from them!)
- holiday lights (like you string on a Christmas tree)
- paper cups
- index cards
- scotch tape
- BBQ skewers
- 9 volt batteries
- binder clips (assorted)
- pipe cleaners
- glue dots
- tin foil
- ziplock bags
- paper towels
I also have a general supply/donation sheet that I plan to share with parents at our STEM Lab Open House that has even more inexpensive items that can be used in a makerspace.
And, of course, here are the links to the activities I had set up!
PBS Design Squad Nation – the motherload of simple maker/STEM projects!
- BristleBots (and indirectly CupBot!)
- Glow Stick
- 2 Wheel Balloon Car
- Balloon Joust
- Launch It
- Can You Save Fred
- Hoop Glider
- Gumdrop Geodesic Dome
- Musical Straws
- Marshmallow Tower
- Marshmallow Catapult
- This was just a table with all my extra random supplies so people could make something new, or modify existing activities.
If I forgot any, let me know and I’ll add them.
Last but not least, my STEM/STEAM/Makerspace resources on Pinterest.