What’s Consumable? What’s Not?

As we ordered supplies we were mindful of lots of things: appealing to boys & girls, creating a space that works for a variety of learning styles, and having enough supplies for our students to explore with.

One thing we are thinking about is what will be consumable and what won’t? Some supplies are easy to decide, but others aren’t. Projects created with LittleBits and Arduino will have to be documented, disassembled and then returned to our maker space. These are expensive and not consumable. On the other side LED lights, craft materials, wire and conductive tape are clearly consumable and will need to be replaced each year (or sooner?). But what about the items that aren’t as easily categorized as clearly consumable or clearly not?Items like hobby motors, sensors & switches, and Lilypad Twinkle are not as easy to decide.  If we do one jitterbug project, that could wipe out most of the motors in our maker space.

Thinking about this we had an idea.  We are going to keep extras of some of these items and offer families the opportunity to purchase them and therefore, not have to disassemble their project.  Then we will reorder material with the money we collect.  This will replenish our supplies and prevent popular inexpensive (but not cheap) items available for students in our maker space.

We are also going to provide parents with resources to purchase maker materials for their child to use at home or in class.  We want to ignite students creativity and imagination and parents can help support this.

Ordering on a Shoestring

Ahhhh ordering…..Finally it was time to order materials for our maker space.  We had some idea of what we wanted and needed, but it quickly became clear we would be better at ordering next year once we used the materials and figured out what worked for our students. For example, we were not sure which coin cell battery holders to get; they are expensive and as novices we are not sure how they all work. We got some of each, so we can learn how to use them and be educated on what works best with certain projects.

We began ordering supplies for our new space by thinking about what we explored in Lucie’s course. We came to this course as a group of three, two women and one man. Gregg was not interested at all in the e-textiles while we loved them.  We were not interested in creating paper bridges that would hold the most reams of paper, but Gregg was completely engaged. So when we were ordering we tried to consider all learners: both boys and girls. We learned from our week at the Generator, boys and girls are different and approach learning differently.  We purchased materials with this in mind.

At school Gregg and Aimee both had LINX Kits, stored in boxes in a closet deep in the school. With this course and project, we realized they were perfect for the makerspace. We suspect that boys will be more drawn to these building materials, while the e-textiles will appeal more to girls. The challenge will be to break these stereotypes, so we have some playing to do!

Lucie’s course offered the best variety of materials to create with, and we know its important to have a wide variety supplies. Here is what we ordered:

  • LED Lights . . . we ordered a variety of sizes and types of LED lights.
  • Motors . . . we decided on basic hobby motors to start
  • Sensors . . . we ordered light, motion and sound sensors
  • Switches . . . we ordered Lilypad on/off switches and a variety pack of button switches
  • Batteries . . . we ordered coin cell batteries for eTextile projects
  • Battery Holders . . . we ordered a few types to see which we prefered
  • Wire . . . Jump wires, rolls of wire and alligator clips
  • Conductive material . . . we ordered conductive thread and tape

We still have more to get, but plan on taking trips to arts and craft stores, the dollar store and hardware stores for items like wire strippers, needle-nosed pliers, felt, feathers, and other maker materials. Our teammate, Gregg, got a huge bin of craft supplies for three dollars at a yard sale! We wish we would have found it before him.


Maker Space Essentials

We took an amazing Maker course this summer with a colleague, Gregg Galati. Lucie deLaBruere’s Create, Make, Learn introduced us to the emerging MakerSpace (aka FabLab & Hackerspace) phenomenon. We explored 3D printing, eTextiles, soldering, coding, laser cutting, toy hacking, building circuits and much, much more!  

As part of the class we were able to create a kit to get our MakerSpace started.  We decided to get the more expensive electronics in our kit and purchase eTextiles, LED lights, motors and other #hackerspace essentials through our classroom budgets.

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 11.31.33 PM

We started with what we considered the most important item:  a 3D printer.  We chose the Makerbot Replicator Mini. This more affordable 3D printer seemed like a good place to start fabricating material during our Genius Hour.  We are excited to learn with our students the potential of this new tool.  We will do our best not to caught up in the “Keychain Syndrome” (Invent to Learn ch7).

Both 5th grade classes will have an Arduino Explorer kit to explore more complex electronic circuitry.  We all will have a MakeyMakey and LittleBits kits, too.   

We also have LINX kits for our makerspaces.  Our students will be able to create robots, vehicles, and structures with wood.  LINX kits include safety saws and drills designed specifically for upper elementary students.  Students use 1cm x 1cm balsa wood sticks (40cm),  3/16″ dowels and wheels for their constructions.


Maker Space: Getting Started

We are creating a Maker Space in each of our classrooms!  In addition to making the space and providing materials, we are creating lessons to introduce the idea of making in the context of a Genius Hour. We will be doing a series of posts about our process:

  • Classroom set up decision making
  • Ordering supplies
  • Organizing our Maker Space
  • Lessons
  • Reflections

We will also be sharing our successes, and yes, our failures with our new maker space.


Every now and then, a blog needs a makeover. “Look Inside” is being reinvented. The purpose of the new blog is to document our transformation to more student-centered learning in our new classroom #makerspace! Create, Make, Learn, a maker course at The Generator, inspired us to make fundamental changes to our  instruction  and the physical layout of our classrooms.

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 8.41.03 AM