Incorporating a makerspace into your classroom or library seems like an excellent idea, but where, exactly, should you start?
More of a movement than a trend, the makerspace has evolved from an idea that consumers should try making their products through DIY (do-it-yourself) methods, rather than buying mass-produced items. Within the last few years, makerspaces have moved into education. Through encouraging students to take seemingly simple materials to create products using STEM concepts, teachers are able to illustrate lessons and build confidence in students. Start making a makerspace in your classroom by stocking the following materials at all times.
1. Rubber bands
Many people simply discard rubber bands that are found on rolled newspapers, around food containers, or in the junk drawer at home. Rubber bands are extremely useful to a well-stocked makerspace. Whether securing pieces together, or using them as a launch method, rubber bands are a necessary material in every makerspace.
An asset to any makerspace, cardboard used in maker projects can serve as a foundation upon which to build, walls to surround, or even as connectors and pipelines when using empty toilet and paper-towel rolls. Cardboard is an extremely versatile material for students to work with and manipulate to suit their needs.
The building blocks of childhood creativity, LEGOs can be used to build many projects. They can be used with robotics, digital products, and with backplate pieces to construct a horizontal LEGO wall, which can serve as a space for kids to build ideas, or inspire each other, during brainstorming. The company is dedicated to helping teachers engage students in makerspace education through providing guidance for maximizing maker-style learning.
4. Duct and Electrical Tape
One of the most versatile tools in any toolbox, duct tape is a necessary product to include in a classroom makerspace. Yes, duct and electrical tape are useful for sealing seams, insulating electrical wires, and securing pieces together, but students are able to find other uses for this material. With duct and electrical tape, students can create framing, use it as an outer cover or fabric, and create durable, water-resistant products.
5. Wires and Wire Cutters
Using wires that have been cast aside and forgotten about in students’ family garages would be most efficient. Ask students to ask parents for wires that are no longer in use. Wires can be old, but must be in safe working condition. These wires can be used with electrical projects that teach students about conductors, insulators, and circuits. Some teachers may be wary of allowing student access to tools like wire cutters, but establishing clear expectations about their use (along with a demo or two) is all most students need to be responsible. Usually they are too focused on creating their masterpieces to goof around with the materials.
Speaking of working with electrical projects, there will be times when students need to work with batteries. Unfortunately, batteries can be expensive and maintaining an adequate supply would be too expensive for any teacher. Send an email to parents asking if they are able to send students to school with specific sizes of batteries as they are needed for each project.
Using a makerspace in the classroom will benefit students through strengthening their connections to STEM and STEAM. Whether implemented as a method to teach the entire class at the same time, or as a component to station-based learning, a classroom makerspace can be used in a manner that is tailored to the specific needs of your students. However you implement it, your students will be sure to amaze you with their creativity, innovation, and insight.