Students often tell us that their favorite part of STEAM education is the tinkering aspect. They enjoy experimenting with new materials and using things in new ways. In the beginning this meant that we took out a giant box of random materials and soon the classroom descended into chaos. The kids loved it but the clean up required was stifling our enthusiasm for such activities. Here are some great ideas for tinker spaces, but remember, a box full of random materials is still a child’s greatest treasure.
1. Materials Wall
A place for everything and everything in its place. Peg boards are a great way to organize supplies. Students can easily see what is available. Labels help to keep things neat.
2. Supply Storage
Some of our favorite supplies are popsicle sticks, rubber bands, and tin foil. Kids can get creative with pretty much about anything. If you have absolutely no use for an item, you can be sure students will find a way to create something amazing with it.
3. Display Space
A shelf to display tinker creations and curiosities is a great way to set the mood. We like to rotate the artifacts frequently and the kids love the recognition. A big part of STEAM education is the art aspect of it. Artistic touches and displays are a teaching tool in itself.
4. Lego Mindstorms
To have a robotics center takes a tinker space to a whole new level. LEGO Mindstorm is one of the easiest to use systems available on the educational market. Students can work in groups, so a few sets can go a long way. This is definitely a “in a perfect world” kind of addition to a tinker space.
6. Research Area
Tinker enthusiasts love to read! We like to have a collection of science and engineering books available. The key is not to clutter the area but to present a select collection of books and rotate them throughout the year.
We would love to hear from you. How does your tinker space look like? What are your experiences with STEAM education?