By Kristina Davis, Educational Program Designer
With experience as a former elementary teacher, it's my opinion that having a good storage solution is vital not only for a teacher but also for students. Students feel empowered when they're in charge of materials, which in turn gives them a sense of ownership of the classroom. The materials are now theirs as they get them out and put them away each time.
With all of this in mind, I embarked on a journey of finding a storage solution for our Pitsco Maker Space Packages.
Each package has numerous Maker Projects that, if not stored, would be a huge undertaking for teachers to sort through and organize on their own. Pitsco CEO Harvey Dean's first question at the start of my adventure was, “How can we make this easier on the teacher?” That question drove my process and brought the projects to where they are today.
Each Maker Project comes with the appropriate bins, labels, top card, and installation guide for how the projects should be stored. I spent several weeks in an office filled with products in boxes stacked to the ceiling and our storage bins that we use for our various curriculum solutions. During this time I unpacked each project, collected any extra materials or products included with the finished project, and placed them into bins.
After a few days, I became very good at eyeballing the products and knowing what bins they would fit in. It kind of became a game for me. I would write down my bin prediction and then give myself a star if I could fit all the products for that project in that bin. You can tell I was an elementary teacher now, right? Giving out star stickers was my go-to motivation!
During this process we had a few of our TAG (Teacher Advisory Group) members on campus. I was lucky enough to chat with them over lunch one day and found that they each had their own makerspace at their school. After picking their brains for a bit and showing them what I was working on, I knew I was on the right track for making our projects easy for the teacher to use and implement.
After I determined what storage bins would be used for each product, labeling became my focus. Because we have some projects that are shared between packages, the labels had to be descriptive enough to be used in one or several solutions. The final labels included with the projects state the project title, what level of package(s), and what grades we suggest it serve. We include two labels per bin, box, or item that is too large for either so that no matter how students put them away on the shelf, a label will still show.
In addition to the labels, each project comes with a top card. This card should be placed at the top of the shorter bins or on the side of the taller bins and can be seen through our clear lids or clear-sided bins. On the back of the card is a list of the items that are assigned to the bin.
This includes associated items that go with the project but aren't stored in the bin (such as a Straw Rocket Launcher) or items that are required but aren't part of the package (such as a sander). Also provided are the number of students the project can accommodate, an example activity, STEM connections, and relevant careers the project can be connected to as well as pictures of the items and a finished product image.
The final, and maybe most important, piece that we include with our packages is our installation guide.
This guide gives directions on how we suggest you store the materials with the storage bins we have provided. We also include information such as the product number (this makes it easy to reorder materials), the number of students served by the project, and any special instructions for items that might not fit in the provided bin(s).
While it’s been a long process that took a lot of teamwork to make it all happen, the Maker Project storage provides everything needed to make organizing and implementing them a breeze.
So, if you're out there trying to join the maker movement or struggling with organizing materials for your makerspace, here is a list of Pitsco Maker Space Packages with links to where they can be found on our website to make your life easier.