For the last 20 years, Laura Fleming has been a classroom teacher and media specialist. She’s also an adjunct professor, the founder of Worlds of Making, LLC, and Hands-On Coding, LLC, and the best-selling author of Worlds of Learning: Best Practices for Establishing a Makerspace for Your School as well as The Kickstart Guide to Making Great Makerspaces.
Her library makerspace has received national attention and served as an inspiration for schools across the country and her blog, Worlds of Learning, has been recognized as one of the top K-12 IT blogs.
Each year, Worlds of Making releases an annual top 10 makerspace items list. Below, we’ve included some of the winners from the 2015, 2016, and 2017 lists (in alphabetical order).
You can nominate your makerspace favorites for this year here! The list will be released on December 31.
[Some of] Laura Fleming’s favorite makerspace items from 2015, 2016, and 2017
Design & Drill Brightworks
Light up creativity with the flip of a switch! Budding designers can follow one of 12 included patterns or create their own glow-in-the-dark creations. Just insert one of the translucent bolts, use the real working, kid-friendly power drill to drill it in, and watch as your dynamic creation glows from the inside! Just like a real drill, it can go in reverse and has multiple drill bits.
Sprout is a revolutionary all-in-one computer and 3D scanner that makes it easy to go from thought to expression in an instant. By blurring the line between physical and digital, Sprout lets you bring your creativity to life. Sprout’s all-touch user interface lets you control your content directly with your hands on either the 23″ full HD touchscreen or the projected display on the 20-point Touch Mat.
HUE Animation Studio
HUE Animation Studio fosters creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking, enabling students to plan and create their own learning experience. The complete stop motion animation kit includes the HUE HD camera, the HUE Book of Animation (written for students), and HUE Animation software. Contains everything students need to create their own stop motion animation videos. This wonderful kit encourages creativity and imagination.
“I Can Make” books by Kristina Holzweiss
My point of entry into the maker movement was through literacy, so I have long recognized the value of integrating related concepts and resources into a makerspace. Although I am not always a fan of makerspace project books, these books, written by Kristina Holzweiss and Amy Barth, are some of my favorites. What I love most about them is how they are written for students to be able to use to guide themselves through the process of making and creating, allowing for a much more empowering and authentic experience, rather than the project ideas coming from an adult.
“Kids Invent Stuff” YouTube channel
Not everything that is GREAT for a makerspace has to cost money! Here is one that is FREE! Be sure to check out the Kids Invent Stuff YouTube channel, where kids can get their own invention ideas built by real engineers.
The concept behind Piper is simple: build, learn, and create. With Piper, kids can build a working computer using a real engineering blueprint, rather than through step-by-step directions. Throughout the process they can learn engineering, programming, and design thinking. Piper also allows children to create anything with their computer that you can with a regular computer. Watch this video to see Piper in action.
POWERUP 3.0 – Smartphone Controlled Paper Airplane Kits
Flight has long been a theme in our makerspace, and that is what led me to the POWERUP 3.0 Smartphone Controlled Paper Airplane. POWERUP 3.0’s durable, crash-proof design transforms ordinary paper planes into app-controlled machines. Controllable directly from a free smartphone app. Just tilt your smartphone to steer your airplane left or right and increase or decrease throttle to ascend or descend.
Rigamajig is a large-scale building kit conceived for hands-on free play and learning. Play, even with our youngest learners today, is so often program- or teacher-driven. The free play that Rigamajig fosters is priceless and invaluable. KaBOOM!, the sole distributor of Rigamajig, is a non-profit organization. Money raised by Rigamajig purchases goes toward kaBOOM!’s mission of all ensuring all kids, especially those living in poverty in America, get the active play needed to thrive and grow into successful adults. Watch this video to see Rigamajig in action.
Skil Power Cutter
The Skil power cutter cuts hundreds of materials up to ¼-inch thick, including plastic packaging, carpet, corrugated cardboard, and much more yet weighs less than one pound. Cardboard is a favorite in so many makerspaces. This safe power cutter is the ideal tool to keep handy in a makerspace!
Strawbees is an award-winning prototyping toy for makers of all ages. It is a kit based on simple units called Strawbees that stimulate the imagination by letting you connect straws to each other to design and build. You can modify as you go, add straws, cut straws, or add new connections to get a sturdier, more flexible, or larger structure. Nothing is destroyed, only modified. Strawbees has a “Become an Inventor” app, which, along with the Strawbees kit, is a great tool to explore mechanics, engineering, and design through play and to stimulate the imagination and inspire storytelling.
TeacherGeek Maker Cart
Up until now, we have not supported makerspace in a box (or on a cart) types of kits. This one however, is special because it aligns perfectly to the MAKER Framework in that it not only allows for mobility, but also in that it fosters open-ended exploration and has a low barrier of entry. The cart comes with almost 15,000 different components that can support just about any maker project a child could dream up. With this cart, students will learn science and engineering concepts through experimentation, grow their understanding, and evolve projects through the design and engineering process. For those who are looking for a less-expensive option, the bulk components are available for individual purchase.
Thinkpak: A Brainstorming Card Deck
Looking for a unique invention, an untapped market for an existing product, or a new solution? Stretch and flex your mental muscles with Thinkpak, a creative-thinking tool designed by Michael Michalko, author of the groundbreaking book, Thinkertoys. This deck of illustrated idea-stimulating cards distills Michalko’s proven methods, allowing you to view challenges in a new light. Shuffle, mix, and match the cards to spark fresh insights, then use the critical evaluation techniques to test, shape, and refine your ideas into realistic creations. Filled with thought-provoking questions and examples of the techniques put to use, Thinkpak provides endless creative fuel to fire up the imagination.
Find the complete lists and other helpful tools & resources at Worlds of Learning.