Makerspace alternatives: Maker-carts and ‘breakerspaces’

Not all districts can dedicate time, space or money to a makerspace, but educators can still incorporate innovative tinkering.

In some schools, teachers have created makerspace carts that include crafts, tools, small circuits and robots. Teachers can share these mobile carts with multiple colleagues at various grade levels.

Another trend, the “breakerspace,” encourages students to bring in old or broken toys and electronics to fix or dismantle for another project. Janet Sweat, a science teacher in Florida’s Columbia County School District, had middle school students deconstruct motors and wires from old toys to create electric cars.

Because the students provided the resources and Sweat provided screwdrivers and drills, the class saved on costs and worked in her classroom. “When I previously worked at the district level, I saw one school try to create a makerspace classroom with nice equipment, but the teachers didn’t take students there,” Sweat says. “Listen to the students, and let them give guidance in what they need.”

The New York-based Columbia University FabLearn Fellows program recommends thinking of an entire school or district as a makerspace. The group, which has more than 20 international partners across six continents, disseminates best practices on integrating makerspaces into K-12 education.

Main story: A school makerspace inspires STEM invention everywhere

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