Walk into a modern classroom and you might spot a half-constructed robot next to the pencils and books. Makerspaces are now an essential teaching tool as students explore science, technology, engineering, and math. However, Makerspaces can be expensive and many schools don’t have the resources to fund this sort of valuable learning space. That’s where DonorsChoose.org comes in.

DonorsChoose is a nonprofit website where teachers can create projects for the materials they need, and donors can fund the projects that inspire them. Once a project is fully funded, DonorsChoose.org purchases the requested materials and ships them directly to the school. To date, DonorsChoose.org has raised over $450 million for teachers, and funded over 750,000 projects.

Photo by Lucas Saugen.

Photo by Lucas Saugen.

Teachers across the country have already used DonorsChoose.org to create a classroom or library Makerspace, allowing their students to explore the infinite possibilities of engineering and technology. Here are a few examples of teachers who have used the site to foster their students ingenuity:

Mr. Hall and his curious Kindergarteners

In California, Mr. Hall created his makerspace project to not only support the cognitive development of his Kindergarten students, but also fine-tune their motor skills. Kindergarten is an inquisitive year, so Mr. Hall wanted to give his students the opportunity to answer their own questions.

“A makerspace is an area where children can take hold of their own learning. They can paint, build, deconstruct, and explore a myriad of self-selected topics using real world tools and supplies… Using actual tools such as screwdrivers, the children can develop fine motor and reasoning skills as they deconstruct small appliances or build their own creations.”

Thanks to support from Chevron’s Fuel Your School Program and 11 other donors, Mr. Hall’s project was fully funded. His students expressed their creativity through problem solving and grew to love engineering.

“Our Makerspace has become a popular choice in our classroom and I am thrilled with the flexibility it offers my students. In the photos, the children are taking apart a broken radio with a cassette tape player. This simple act led to discussions and research on electricity, gears, pulleys, levers, and a plethora of other topics. As a teacher, there is no greater joy than seeing your students take ownership of their own learning.”

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Ms. Hackney organizes a Makerspace club

Ms. Hackney used DonorsChoose.org to fund a makerspace club at her Pennsylvania middle school. By introducing tools into her classroom, Ms. Hackney afforded her students the opportunity to invent their own machines.

“Using the Legos, Littlebits, and K’nex I am requesting, students would be able to use the scientific method to invent, build, and test anything they want! They will even be able to add light, sound, and movement for an added dimension to their inventions! By having a safe creative environment, students will be able to foster their love for exploring and engineering.”

Ms. Hackney’s students created catapults and contraptions, which inspired the school to designate a whole classroom for STEM activities. “I can’t fully express my joy, excitement, and thanks for your donation to my project,” she said. “It is great to see that you share my vision for teaching and inspiring children with hands-on science! The tools that you have funded will enable my students to imagine, design, and create anything they can dream up!”

Mr. Degas creates 3D magic

When he requested a 3D printer, Mr. Degas wanted to strengthen his students’ English language skills while they solved tasks and completed hands-on projects in a biology after school program.

“Because all of my students are new to the country, many of them (those who are not working) are excited about after school activities which represent a chance to spend time practicing English with adults and other students.”

Using the 3D printer, Mr. Degas’s students created everything from combs to nuts and bolts. This not only inspired the students to start a Makerspace club, it also fortified their English speaking skills.

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Photo by Anthony Lam.

Photo by Anthony Lam.

These teachers are a just few of the thousands who have used DonorsChoose.org to fund their makerspaces and other STEM projects. We’ve put together a list of classroom materials you can request through DonorsChoose.org to create your own Makerspace for less than $1,000. Happy making!