Susan Riley | December 2016

114 Tips to Create a STEAM Makerspace in Schools

Do you ever wonder what you should include in a STEAM Makerspace in schools?  Maybe you’ve received some grant funding, or maybe you have a great PTA who is willing to help you create a starter STEAM lab.  Or, you might just have some extra supplies and want to know what you need to get a STEAM-focused makerspace up and running. You’re not alone!  One of the most anticipated sessions at our upcoming Arts Integration and STEAM Online Conference is all about what you’ll need for a STEAM Makerspace in Schools.

To help you out, we’ve gone ahead and created a free downloadable for you that contains 114 tips, ideas, resources and even lesson ideas for creating your very own STEAM Makerspace in Schools.  No more overwhelm, no more panic.  This comprehensive guide will help you make the most out of your space, time and dollars.

114 Tips for a STEAM makerspace
Certainly, you could extend this list even further with more tools, technology, and resources.  But this list is a good starting point, and might even contain some new items for your makerspace-veterans out there.

Getting Started

These are the least expensive items you’ll need, and the ones that will get students creating the fastest.

  • Yarn
  • Embroidery String
  • Cardboard
  • Fabrics/Textile Swatches
  • Old Telephone wire
  • Balloons
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Wire cutters
  • Tennis balls
  • Nuts and Bolts
  • Paint
  • Model Magic
  • Markers
  • Wood Blocks
  • Mod Podge
  • Ink
  • Embroidery Hoops
  • Old Instruments
  • Rubber Bands
  • Toothpicks
  • Straws
  • Magnets
  • Duct Tape
  • Scotch Tape
  • Felt
  • Dental Floss
  • Foam Board
  • Poster Board
  • Paper: origami, construction, and plain

Digging Deeper

These are items you’ll need to purchase.  Some are relatively inexpensive, while others will require a budget.  Think of these as “nice to have” items.  If on a limited budget, start with just one or two of the bigger items and add in more over time.

  • Legos
  • Snap Circuits
  • Hole punches
  • Scissors
  • Copper tape with conductive adhesive
  • LEDs
  • Batteries (AAA, AA, CR2032, C, D)
  • Green screen paper
  • Zoomy handheld microscope
  • Microphone
  • Microphone stand
  • Chibitronics
  • Quibits
  • Keva Structures
  • Spirograph
  • 3Doodler
  • 3D Printer
  • iPads/Tablets
  • Sewing Machines
  • HUE Animation Studio
  • K’Nex
  • Makey Makeys
  • Sphero Ball

Web Resources

These are websites students can use to help them find ideas, create and share their work.

Apps for STEAM Makerspace in Schools

This mix of free and paid apps are some of our favorites for working in and through STEAM.

  • DoInk
  • Animation Creator
  • MyStop Action
  • Flipbook
  • StopMotion Recorder
  • Garageband
  • iMovie
  • Drawing Desk
  • EduCreations
  • Shot Designer
  • Store-house Visual Storytelling
  • Adobe Voice
  • Echograph
  • Vyclone Film Together
  • Amaziograph
  • Morphi
  • Cardboard

Be Sure to Consider

There are a number of things that we sometimes forget when creating a maker space.  Be sure you have thought about the following:

  • Carts and Storage: including bins, labels, cubbies, shelving, rolling carts and a checkout system.
  • Power/Charging: including charging stations, laptop/tablet bins, cord wrappers, power strips and a labeling system.
  • Workspaces: including collapsible tables, long workbenches, desk groupings, a creating area, lab tables and a presentation space.

STEAM Units of Study

Need a few ideas for using your new makerspace?  Here are some of our top units of study:

  • String art with linear equations
  • Designing musical instruments
  • Creating a new set design
  • Animating a story
  • Exploring robotic movement
  • Exploring sound and light waves
  • Microscopy study
  • Art forgery and chemistry
  • Architecture unit
  • Lego Pixelation Wall
  • Coded Grid Art
  • Sound Effect Lab
  • Energy and Space exploration through Movement
  • Models, structures, and sculptures
  • Costume design and wearable art

This is just the tip of the iceberg!  For more ideas like these, and the load up on helpful resources for your own STEAM lessons and units, be sure to register for our Arts Integration and STEAM online conference.  You’ll even receive 10 PD hours for participating.

Now, we’d love to hear from you.  What are some of your “Makerspace Must-Have” items?

About the Author

Susan Riley is the founder and CEO of The Institute for Arts Integration and STEAM. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, STEAM, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and STEAM education. Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter. Email Susan