Makerspace Storage Solutions

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I’ve had a lot of questions about storage for maker tools, so I wanted to compile a list of maker storage solutions I’ve tried over the years.

Microcontroller Storage Solutions

Arduinos, Micro:bit, and Makey Makey are awesome tools, but they don’t come in user or library friendly storage containers. Lately, I’ve been buying photo storage boxes to contain my microcontrollers in a compact and clear solution. What I love about these Iris photo keepers is that 6 of the the containers fit inside another clear unit. Plus, you can easily spot that you have your Makey Makey, alligator clips, and USB cable when students hand the kits back.

Soliz’s 5th grade Ss are starting #MakeyMakey marble mazes today! #makered #evilmakeybook

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If you have some old clear VHS cases, they are also perfect for storing Makey Makey and accessories! I saw Diana Rendina do this at FETC last year, and I almost looked for back stock so I could put all of my Makey Makeys in old VHS boxes!

However, you might want to store things like Play-doh inside your Makey Makey kits, if so a larger storage box works great too. Check out Bill Steinbach’s storage solution:

I’m use these photo boxes to store table supplies for workshops too. Below is a kit for creating paper circuits during a Makey Makey Invention Literacy workshop. These little boxes are great for storing rolls of copper tape, drawing pencils, foil, batteries, and coincell battery holders.

Table group resources in a handy photo storage box! #makered #hacks

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The Iris Photo Keeper sized 4X6 is also good for Micro:bit and accessories.  This size is perfect for the cable, controller, and battery holder. If you want to store more accessories, you’ll want to go a box size up.

Organizing my #Microbit sets this am. #makerlibrarian #makered #photostoragehack

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Consumable/Recyclables Maker Storage

At Ryan High School with the help of my ITS, Leslie Terronez, we organized all of our materials in these large tubs and labeled accordingly. (See more about the process in this previous post.)

These tubs helped students find things quickly.  I ended up moving all of this organized chaos to the “maker classroom” side of the library at Ryan, and then used these huge shelves behind the circulation desk for “in-progress” projects. During our Invention Literacy projects with 10th grade, I quickly realized that I need to move our consumables far away from our non-consumable items like knitting needles, Raspberry Pi components, etc. I needed all recyclable and prototyping material far away from things I didn’t want torn up. During that project, students sawed knitting wooden needles in half to make catapults!  I didn’t get upset with them for their creative reuse, but oh my! If only I’d remembered Krissy Venosdale’s Maker Confession we’d discussed at SXSWedu last year!

At my new library, I have mostly only recyclables and and consumables. So I keep my Micro:bit and Makey Makeys near our computers and I have a wall of recyclables clearly labeled for students to use in projects. I’ve also learned to cut my cardboard into square and rectangle sheets so it’s a little more accessible for my elemakers.

It’s handy to save round things in a bin labeled “round-wheel like things”, cardboard tubes, interesting plastic, soft things, pom poms, straws, popsicle sticks, etc in your consumable area. However, with younger students remember to tell them not to be wasteful. You may even have to limit how many materials they can use. During our Micro:bit pet project, Mrs. Honea and I saw the kids decimate all of my sorted reuse materials in 2 minutes! Plus, they only gathered them all and then had to put them back. It’s important for students to understand that they do not have HOARD materials because they will stay in your storage tubs for further use.

Storing Works In Progress

Last year I noticed that it was getting harder to keep “in progress” projects organized on the shelves. So I decided to buy tubs that students could label with their names and an expiration date. If they were working on a project of their own, they needed to write an expiration date. If they were working as a class, they just needed to label the tub with their names. At Ryan I kept these behind the circulation desk. At my new school, I keep in progress projects on empty shelves in my office so idle hands do not find them and destroy them. Read more about the in-progress shelves in this post I wrote last year.

During the “works in-progress” clean up, I also tried out making a re-purpose it bin. This seemed like a good idea for repurposing old projects, but not many of my high school students would go through it to look for parts. It might work better in elementary, since the kids really love scavenging items. Only time will tell!

The red tubs work great for in progress work when I have one whole class working on a project. For open maker time projects, these little containers with lids work a little better. An expiration date is necessary for free lance projects because sometimes kids abandon projects for a long time. I can’t tell you how many times a students would come back months after they started a project. It’s always difficult to tell them you’ve recycled their work, but it becomes a little easier when you have an expiration date on the bin!

Skinny containers with lids are great for storing sewing and sewing circuit projects!

Throwback to Lamar Middle School

I started the in-progress shelves when I was working at Lamar. At the time, it was just empty shelving for student projects. When I stored projects like this at Ryan, inevitably someone would mess with another student’s project. That’s why it’s important to use bins or storage tubs to keep work separated and safe.

Need More Ideas for Makerspace Storage?

Visit your local re-use stores to get more great storage ideas! Scrap Denton had great ideas for re-purposing old containers for consumables supplies. At Ryan, I used biscotti tubs that a teacher gave me to store consumables like popsicle sticks and wooden dowels. To keep your area looking neat, make sure your up-cycled containers are all matching! You can reuse tennis ball containers for ribbons, popsicle sticks, etc! While you are at your re-use store, be environmentally friendly by picking up more supplies for your makerspace instead of buying all brand new materials.

Pinterest always has great one trick ideas too! I found this great way to organize thread by hot gluing golf tees to the top tub of tool box drawer.

What are some of your favorite storage ideas? See my previous post about makerspace storage for ideas on storing littleBits, Sphero, and more!

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Holiday (or anytime) Gift Ideas for Cool Kids

 

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It’s the tech shopping time of year, so I thought I’d share some holiday gift ideas for the cool kids in your life. I’ve had personal experience with everything on this list except the last item! Let me know if you have any favorites you would add in the comments.

Chibitronics Love to Code Interactive Binder

chibi clip2

Picture from Amazon

This microcontroller from Chibitronics and Jie Qi is super accessible since it can be programmed with MakeCode AND uses the audiojack to send programs from your device to the controller. It’s a game changer! With the addition of this supercool interactive binder, your cool kids can learn to craft paper circuits, write code, and program those paper circuits alongside some wonderfully illustrated characters by K-Fai Steele. My full review on this starter kit is coming soon!

chibibook

Picture from Amazon

Scratch Coding Cards – Only $10 bucks on Amazon right now!

scratch

Yes, you can download and print these cards from Scratch.mit.edu, but this deck is durable and super fun for kids interested in Scratch. In fact, I bought these for my 8 YO last year! I’ve given these cards out as gifts for other cool kids too. Scratch is a hit with kids age 6 and up. (And don’t worry, your young ones can still start coding with Scratch Jr. It is a hit with kids under 8.)

Micro:bit

Organizing my #Microbit sets this am. #makerlibrarian #makered #photostoragehack

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Micro:bit is another entry level microcontroller that can be programmed with Makecode! It’s super easy to use, fun, and kids love the scrolling LEDs on the front and the ability to program music (but a separate speaker component will have to be bought a la cart!) It is programmed through a USB, so a computer is needed, but it can be used with a Chromebook. (In fact, I prefer having my students program Micro:bit on the Chromebook since they can then save their programs easily in Google Drive.)

microbit

Picture from Amazon

Kano Computing System (without monitor) Kano Complete System (with monitor)

I bought my 8 YO the Kano system in 2015  when she was 6 and she STILL loves it!  Plus, Kano has done some great upgrades in the last two years. It’s a great first computer that will focus your kid on creating fun stuff, rather than just surfing the web. (But as a warning: I never did let mine connect to Wifi full time because of the Youtube app.)

Makey Makey paired with our #evilmakeybook and the Inventor Booster Kit

makey-makey-giveaway

I know I’m biased on this one, but if your cool kid doesn’t already have a Makey Makey, this would be a great pairing for getting started! Throw in our #evilmakeybook, and the Inventor Booster kit and mischief is sure to be managed.

Lilypad Sewable Electronics Kit

2

If you know someone who wants to start sewing circuits, this is a great kit to get started. Since I recently reviewed this, see the full review and projects I made with it here.

Cozmo Robot by Anki

And last but not least! Something just for fun! I don’t have a Cosmo Robot by Anki (YET!), but this little AI driven robot looks pretty amazing. I’m not sure how educational it is, but it looks like a great robot toy for the 8-14 year old set.

This review talked me into getting one this holiday season!

If you are looking for some books for your cool kids, check out my post on coding books  and I hope to add a post just on my favorite books soon!