Want to start a Makerspace in your school? We can help you set up your school makerspace. What equipment, training, kits, and furniture will you need? How will the decision between library or classroom effect the layout? How do we choose a 3D Printer for the library? These are some of the questions you might be asking yourself. We’ve dealt with all of this before. We’ve helped others and we can help you too!
Updated August 2018
This article will be continually updated. As we find new information it will be added.
First – What is a Makerspace?
I’m glad you asked. Let’s look at a random definition I found – a place where people with similar interests can work on projects together, and share ideas and knowledge.
To me, makerspaces are mostly about a collaborative space with the necessary tools to take on your project.
Do Makerspaces tend to focus on tech? Yes. That said, you can set up a makerspace in your school that focuses on textiles. It isn’t purely about robots and 3D Printers.
However traditionally, makerspaces are largely about 3D Printers and robots. Makerspaces tend to focus on tech. That doesn’t mean you have to.
If you want to know more about what a makerspace is, check out this article: https://www.makerspaces.com/what-is-a-makerspace/
What Are Your Goals for this School Makerspace?
You will need to approach setting up your school makerspace differently depending on what your goals are. A school makerspace focused on STEM skills will be different than another that wants to get kids some fun hands on activities without rigorous STEM.
This will effect the layout, furniture, equipment, cost, etc.
A library makerspace focusing on electronics will be very different from a classroom makerspace focused on sculptures. In the library you’ll need to keep things more organized since the library is used for more than one function. In a classroom you need to have things set up in a way that students can get a good view of any lectures. With electronics you’ll need a bunch of electrical components and outlets. Sculptures will need an entirely different setup.
We mostly focus on STEM related makerspaces.
What is Your Budget for this School Makerspace?
Things cost money. How much can you spend? This is one of the biggest considerations when planning a makerspace in schools.
Expect to pay between $300 and $5,000 for each 3D Printer. A soldering station will likely cost over $100. An oscilloscope will be around $400. Let’s not forget about common tools. Depending on what you want out of your school makerspace the costs can vary widely. You need to know what your budget is in order to plan ahead and know what to expect.
Makerspace in School – Bigger Budget
Don’t have enough money for your school makerspace? There are ways to raise money, and save money.
For raising money, I’m sure you know about seeking grants, donations, and fundraisers. Those are some of the main ways to get more.
Another thing to point out is how this makerspace in school could help distinguish your district.
To save money, try contacting the companies that sell what you need and ask if there is a bulk or education discount. This can go a pretty long way to helping you better equip your makerspace.
Admittedly we are not the experts on this. So here is a link to an article I was told was helpful by a school we helped in the past.
How Much Classroom or Library Space Do You Have?
You’ve got to put this somewhere. How can you fit this makerspace in your school?
You’ll need to find out how much space is available. The two biggest constraints we see are either budget or space when it comes to setting up a school makerspace.
The amount of space you have will dictate how much storage and work area you have available. Depending on how many students you must fit at any given time, this will be a big driver in how much space and equipment each student gets. Generally for a school makerspace, the more space you have, the better. That said, even without a ton of dedicated space if you get creative you can still make something cool. For example, you can have a small corner in the library for 3D Printers, but you might have large desks with computers. Maybe you have a computer lab with extra space for shelves.
There are a ton of ways to make this work if you are dedicated. Though more space is better, a little space is better than none. Make use of it!
How Many Students Will Use Your Makerspace?
You need to figure out how much space and equipment you’ll need. Are these students all there at the same time or are they in a rotation?
Will younger and older students use the same library or classroom makerspace?
We talk about this a big in our article on Choosing the Best School 3D Printer for Your Library or Classroom.
Another thing to think about is group sizes. Are you assigning projects, or are the students more self directed choosing their own projects?
School Makerspace Layout / Furniture
You’re probably going to need a lot of shelves and work benches. Depending on your space you might have storage along the walls while workbenches and computers are in the middle.
It is probably a good idea to organize things so an electronics bench is near the electronics gear. Computers should be near the 3D Printer along with superglue, hot glue guns, masking tape, etc.
Soon we will be writing more in depth articles about setting up each of these different types of workstations.
Robots Robots Robots – So Many Choices!
Finding the robot decision daunting? This can be a very hard choice since there are so many options.
Kinvert is the best K-12 educational company I know of, period, when it comes to robotics (I may be biased…).
What robots should you use in your makerspace?
One article you may find useful here is our Best STEM Gifts for Kids – Educational Toys. In it we talk about robots, but mostly from a gift perspective.
We’ll write an article specifically about this soon since there are just so many options.
If you have younger students with very little experience, and you want them to learn coding, check out our Ultimate Guide to Block Coding. It’s a great stepping stone toward learning typed programming.
Which 3D Printer is Best for My School Makerspace?
There are many options, and we will be writing a better article on this later.
For now, keep in mind the general rule that you get what you pay for. You might save a lot of money by going with a 3D Printer that only costs around $300. When it breaks, can you fix it? Does it come with proprietary filament? There are a lot of questions to ask.
If your 3D Printer will be moving around in and out of the school makerspace you’ll want a stronger one than if it sits on the shelf. Our favorite portable 3D Printer is the Monoprice Mini Delta 3D Printer.
To learn more, read about the Best School 3D Printer for Library or Classroom Makerspace.
What Equipment and Tools Does a Makerspace Need?
First and foremost – get duct tape and WD-40. Next, a phillips screwdriver and pliers. The rest is optional 🙂
We will end up writing an eBook on this in the not too distant future. In the meantime, here is a small list of some of the things you’ll want for your makerspace in your school.
- 3D Printer
- Ratchet and Socket Set
- Driver Bits
- Security Bit Set
- Drill Bits
- Jigsaw + Blades
- Scroll Saw + Blades
- Soldering Iron + Solder + Paste + Flux
- Oscilloscope (expensive)
Write / Draw
- Paper Rolls
- Drafting Board
- French Curves
- Paint Pens
- 3D Pens
- Tape Measure
- Duct Tape
- Hot Glue Guns + Glue
- Masking Tape
- Electrical Tape
- Elmers Glue
- Scotch Tape
- Wood Clamps
- Zip Ties
- Tape Measure
- Infrared Thermometer
- Measuring Tape
- 22 Guage Wire
- Jumper Wires
- Wire Strippers
- Wire Clippers
- Precision Screwdriver Kit
- Desoldering Tool
- Raspberry Pi
- Parallax ActivityBoard
- Programming Environment – IDE Etc
Have a Question We Haven’t Answered?
If you have a question about your school makerspace and we haven’t answered it here, please let me know with a comment or on the Contact Page. We can almost certainly find the answer for you.
We Can Help Your School Makerspace!
Have a plan to create a makerspace in school? We can help! Head to our Contact Page and let us know any questions you have.