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In Redux

By Elizabeth Wroten

Notes From the Makerspace: Getting Started

On 25, Sep 2014 | In Redux | By Elizabeth Wroten

Things are going really well so far in the MakerSpace. The kids have really surprised me with their ability to just walk in, pick something up and see its potential. This is especially true for the younger kids. In some ways I’m sure this kind of place attracts those types of kids, but I expected to need to do a little more prompting. I also just want to note that one of the middle school students wants to build a soapbox derby car! That is so awesome!

So today I wanted to talk a little bit about getting the space set up just to give anyone who might be thinking about doing this some thoughts on how I went about it. Of course your funding and space will be a big determining factor in what you can have, but we did this fairly inexpensively. I highly recommend hitting up school supply sales and the Dollar Store when you actually need to buy materials.

One of the first things I did when I was initially planning was to determine what kinds of general activities I wanted to have available (art station, recycled materials, etc.). I decided until we had our own space I wanted large plastic bins to corral everything and that the supplies really shouldn’t exceed what could fit in those bins. Then I made a list of the supplies I wanted in each of those bins (I will share those below).

Next I determined what I should buy and what we could ask the school community to donate. I bought mostly office supplies, a couple tool kits, the bins, and a couple sewing kits. The rest was donated (with the exception of the electronics, although we got a few of those for taking apart). I will warn you, you will probably get a fair amount of junk that people just want to get out of their house. I cleaned through it and tossed a number of things that were just not going to entice a child to use them (a rusty pick axe, for example). We got TONS of fabric and not a single kid has gone near any of it. We even got a couple sewing machines donated. I really highly recommend hitting up your community, be it the library community or the school community, for donations. People are often willing to give this stuff away and it will save you a boatload of money and time. They may also become a good resource for guest speakers and guest experts.

One last thought about supplies. Don’t go overboard initially. Get some of the stuff and then step back and see what the kids are drawn to. In our case it’s been the recycled materials. They haven’t touched the fabric or even the craft supplies much (except for the glitter, oh my, the glitter). You can always add more supplies as you go along and expect to not have something a kid is looking for. Those are teachable moments where you can help them find a sufficient substitute or tell them you will get it and have it the next time they come. I’m still filling requests for pie tins and wire and Q-tips. That’s pretty much how we supplied the MakerSpace. A combination of purchased materials and donated materials. It was relatively simple once we had a space so don’t let the idea of needing a 3-D printer or CNC machine daunt you, you don’t need a complicated set up.

In one of my upcoming posts I will talk about the structure of the hour the kids are there (there isn’t much of one) and how I’m working on getting the kid to explore some new materials.

  • Deconstruction Box


    • screwdrivers of various sizes
    • small hammers
    • pliers
    • trays
    • toys, electronics to deconstruct


  • Sewing Box


    • sewing machine
    • fabric remnants
    • thread
    • needles
    • pins
    • sewing scissors
    • ipad for tutorials


  • Art Box


    • blank paper
    • construction paper
    • graph paper
    • markers
    • pencils (drawing and colored)
    • crayons
    • Sharpies
    • stamp pads
    • doodle books (Ed Emberly)
    • scissors (several sizes)
    • tape (several types)
    • glues (various types)


  • Recycled Materials Box


    • paper towel and toilet paper tubes
    • boxes
    • pie tins
    • bottles
    • cans
    • bottle caps
    • milk jugs
    • berry baskets
    • cardboard
    • jars


  • Studio Box


    • digital camera
    • disposable camera?
    • video camera (Flip?)
    • microphone
    • digital voice recorder
    • headphones
    • iMovie

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