Resources & Ideas
Free | Gr 4 Up
Offers a ton of STEM and crafty project and programming ideas. Many of the projects require access to equipment like 3-D printers, soldering tools, and electronics. The difficulty level of each project is noted, so users will know exactly what they are embarking on.
Exploratorium: After School Activities Instructor Resource
An educator’s dream, this website contains a wealth of projects to make, and each activity is clearly laid out with step-by-step reproducible PDF instructions, a concept map exploring needed materials, cultural connections, concepts/phenomenons, big ideals, and real-life examples. Also includes variations on the activity, and science websites complete with age recommendations.
Sylvia Show Rainy Day, Science Fair, Solo Exploration, Instructor Resource
Free | Gr 4 Up
Sylvia, a creative 12-year-old, hosts a Web show that takes viewers through science projects quickly yet thoroughly. Each show runs about seven minutes, gives directions for the project, and explains the science behind it. Sylvia’s sense of humor and understanding of the maker philosophy (that failure is inevitable on the way to success) will help bolster the confidence of unsure creators. Includes a blog, printables, and a shop.
Library Makers Rainy Day, Science Fair, Solo Exploration, Instructor Resource
Free | All ages
The City of Madison (WI) Public Library maker page features projects under four headings: CraftLab (crafts for teens), NeedleReads (sewing for teens and adults), Toddler Art Class, and WonderWorks (STEM for toddlers). Each program project is shared with a list of materials, directions, and insights. Wonderful inspiration for library programs.
Maker Camp Group Project, Rainy Day, Science Fair, Solo Exploration, Instructor Resource
Another offshoot from the Make franchise, Maker Camp is a unique online summer “camp” that offers projects for Makers of all ages to complete over an eight-week period of time. Makers are encouraged to share their work and interact with other “campers,” which includes people from all across the globe. Much like Instructables, the Make Project website, and the Exploratorium, Maker Camp offers practical ideas for STEM and Makerspace type programming.
Instructables Group Project, Science Fair, Solo Exploration, Instructor ResourceA browsable wealth of project ideas that could easily be adapted for use in a maker or science space. Categories include Play, Food, Workshop, Living, Outside, Technology, and Everything. Ideas range from ambitious endeavors that include woodworking and electronics, to simple projects like manipulating paperclips into jewelry. Users post their own projects with instructions, and some can be lacking in details and accompanying images. Regardless, this is a great place to explore, document, and share creations.
Apps for Makerspaces
Kodable (app; iOS) Free
A guided puzzle that teaches the basic tenet of coding: logic. Users drag and drop to help an endearing fuzz ball navigate through a gridlike path.
Hopscotch (app; iOS) Free
Children use preprogrammed choices to create and adjust short animations, while learning to build a narrative and troubleshoot to achieve desired results. Highly customizable, students can visualize how text code translates into results.
Codeacademy (app; iOS) Free
This program makes good use of time and imparts a wealth of knowledge, though not necessarily for beginners. Users should have a basic understanding of what coding is and what it looks like. The app has great potential as a learning tool to help students further understand how code translates into action.
Tynker Price varies
Self-guided lessons, puzzles, and quizzes teach basic programming using colorful blocks to help users code the commands necessary to create a project. The elimination of syntax takes away the fear factor that many new coders face. Fun and appealing, the app allows users to progress at their own pace. Educational pricing is available for schools and libraries.
Mozilla Thimble Free
Mozilla Thimble is a simple HTML editor which shows the end product and coding side-by-side in real time while users create a web page. Though it does not actually teach HTML or code writing, Mozilla Thimble can be used in tandem with a tool like Codeacademy to help middle and high schoolers to create webpages and projects with relative ease. Thimble provides the option of starting new projects as well as remixes. An email address is necessary to create the persona page needed to get started.
Light-Bot (app; iOS) $2.99
Similar to My Robot Friend but without the storyline and fancy graphics, this coding game allows users ages 8 and up to program a robot through a series of squares to light up boxes. As the user progresses, routes grow in difficulty and introduce the ideas of procedures and loops. The directions are basic in nature, and if your programming is incorrect the level remains incomplete, highlighting the error until users succeed. Users may take as many turns as needed to complete a level. Available in hour-of-code, lite, and programming versions.