I’ve been talking at a lot of conferences lately about STEM labs and Makerspaces, and as a result I often get questions about storage and organization. Obviously, your situation may vary based on your space, but here is what has worked for me so far.
Portable Lesson Boxes
I found this great idea on Pinterest a while back, and it has been a lifesaver. For lessons/activities that I use on a regular basis, I have taken empty Xerox boxes and covered them in colorful craft paper. Each box holds the supplies needed for a class to complete a specific lesson. I also include a folder with the lesson plan, instructions, and any student handouts that go with it. Now, when I need to prep for an activity I just grab the box and everything is right there ready to go. This is also useful when a teacher wants to do an activity on their own. Everything they need is in one spot, and they just need to let me know if they use consumable supplies so I can restock the box afterwards.
I have tons of small items that are used periodically. I find that clear plastic bins from the dollar store are perfect. They stack nicely on the shelves, and because they are clear I can easily see when a supply is getting low. I used index cards and packing tape to label them.
These are great for the multitude of random items that STEM labs and Makerspaces seem to accumulate. The ability to easily move them around the room as needed is also a nice plus.
Sometimes you just need to go big or go home. For bulkier or heavier items, I use an assortment of Rubbermaid bins and stash them wherever they fit. Again, labels make my life so much easier when I am trying to find a specific item.
I am lucky to have several large closets for storage. Because I am terribly absentminded some days, I have labeled the outer doors of each closet with a list of supplies inside. The items stored in the closets are also organized in bins and labeled.
This is something I wish I had more of. Our LittleBits kit came with wall mounted bins and I think it’s a great way to store small bits and bobs.
Donations of recyclables and other items are a big part of stocking my lab. I have several boxes along one wall labeled with common items I collect such as cardboard tubes and legos.
When our Chromebooks and carts arrived at the beginning of the year, I saved as much of the cardboard as possible. There are so many uses for it! I used some of the larger boxes that the carts came in to store the smaller pieces. Craft paper makes them a bit more attractive than just plain brown.
Mobile STEM Cart
Sometimes I need to go to a classroom for a lesson instead of using the lab. I snagged a large cart from storage, decorated it with duct tape, and now I can transport all my supplies easily from room to room.
While not technically storage, I have to say I love my lab bulletin boards. Instead of craft paper, I found some awesome geeky fabric and used it as my background with a fun border. It really makes the lab pop!
So, that’s how I set up my lab. What awesome ideas do you have to share?