Creating a Makerspace for Educational Institutions
Top Tips to Creating a MakerspaceA Makerspace is a collaborative place where people gather to work on creating projects while sharing equipment, ideas, and knowledge. It can be difficult to know where to start and what to include. Multiple factors go into creating a Makerspace, so these tips will spark ideas about what could work well in the available space.
Plan Out the SpaceStart out with an open space: a classroom, library, warehouse, etc. Even with the furniture and materials, it is ideal to keep the area relatively open to avoid collisions/other accidents and to allow flexibility in the room design. Having easy accessibility increases the chances materials will be seen and used.
To maintain organization, include plenty of storage. Incorporate storage for people to place current projects and for tool/material expansion. If there are work benches along a wall, shelving could be placed above the workbench. Or rolling workbenches with built-in shelves under the tabletop. Or the makerspace can have rolling workbenches with built-in shelves under the tabletop.
Having many easily-accessible power outlets allows projects to be powered from nearly anywhere in the Makerspace. Power can be delivered from above on retractable power cord reels, from below with floor outlets, and/or from the side on wall outlets. Sufficient amounts of lighting is essential to a Makerspace, both task specific and overhead lighting. LED strips are good for task specific projects.
Be aware of how many people fit safely and comfortably into the area. It is not about how big or elaborate the space is, it is about using imagination to create something from the available supplies.
Choose the FurnitureMobile furniture gives the workspace the ability to fit a wider variety of projects. Having wheels on the tables and chairs allows easy mobility. Stationary tables for expensive equipment can help prevent damage to these tools. Smaller tables can be used for individual/smaller group work or combined into bigger tables for collaboration.
Storage options are carts, cabinets, and wall storage. Labeling the storage will help keep parts in their correct locations and decrease clutter. Whiteboards can encourage brainstorming, collaborations, and design planning. Shadow boards are useful ways to store tools, so they are visible and easy to put away.
Look into how much furniture will fit, while still having space to easily change the room layout based on the projects being created. An idea is stationary pieces along the walls and mobile furniture in the center.
Gather the MaterialsThere is no specific material or machine essential to a Makerspace. It is about creating an environment that inspires creativity. The materials can range from expensive, high-tech equipment to basic household supplies. Some examples of supplies are: Arduinos, LEDs, batteries, 3D printer/pens, soldering irons, tape, grab bags, tools, Raspberry Pi, component kits, Legos, cardboard, empty paper towel rolls, playdoh, etc.
To save money consider a donation bin for any types of supplies, even if it’s cardboard, spare wood, or yarn. The bin will bring in materials you may not have even considered using for a project beforehand. Donated toys or small electronics are great opportunities to take the item apart to learn how it works.
The materials should be influenced by who will be using the Makerspace. Start smaller with the collection of materials and build up based on what people are intrigued with. It will save time, money, and space to wait to buy a bunch of supplies, especially bigger and more expensive tools, until people show interest.
Don’t forget to have safety materials, such as safety glasses and a first aid kit!
Start CreatingKits are great ways to get people to learn how to use different parts and/or get inspired for future projects. Jameco offers a wide array of kits ranging from a Learn to Solder Practice Kit to a Metal Detector Kit to a Lithium Ion Battery Charger Kit.
For inspiration, take a look at some of the projects Jameco customers have built. Instructables has thousands of projects, ranging from easy to hard difficulty.
Offering courses on how to use various tools, how to code, or building a specific project can help people broaden their skills and be able create even more.
You may also be interested in the following links:
- Build your Own Arduino Circuit on a Breadboard
- How to Design an Electronics Project
- Understanding STEM Education
- Education Center
- Soldering Basics
- Tech Tips