The MakerEd 100 ‘Must Do’ List

Looking for MakerEd ideas for your makerspace? Below is an EPIC bucket list of 100 awesome activities, inspirational ideas and gigantic goals for making, along with links to instructions, tutorials and related MakerEd resources. This is my personal list that I’m currently working through. I use it for focus and inspiration. I hope that it will inspire you.

Enjoy!

PS. Did I miss one of your favorite MakerEd activities? Leave a comment below and let me know!

The MakerED 100 ‘Must Do’ List:

  1. Host a Popsicle stick bridge challenge – Popsicle sticks (or ‘craft’ sticks) are an awesome medium for young engineers and makers to work and design with. A huge box is dirt cheap and will last you all school year.
  2. Build a Rube Goldberg machine – Is a giant marble track is running the length of your library wall? A stuffed monkey in a basket zip lining through the middle of your lessons? If so then you’ve discovered the joy and wonder that making Rube Goldberg machines brings out in students AND teachers!
  3. Do some collaborative teaching – Making is a great way to foster collaboration with your peers. My adventures building Rube Goldberg machines came out of a desire to assist another colleague with a unit on simple machines. What better place than a makerspace?
  4. Buy a robot – Just… trust me on this one. Your kids will love this one almost as much as you will!
  5. Have a robot battle! You could have competing bristle bots wage war in the arena of annihilation, or you could challenge students to see which team can pop the other team’s balloon. A great ‘how to’ tutorial for bristle bots can be found in The Big Book of Makerspace Projects by Colleen Graves.
  6. Chase your cat with a Sphero – I haven’t laughed this hard in years. Does this make me a bad person? 
  7. Play Robot Soccer – This video from Jon Trede is pretty awesome.

  8. Challenge another Makerspace! – Few things are better in life at bringing out the best in people than a little friendly competition. I recently read about one school makerspace challenging another makerspace to build catapults. They in turn were challenged to build an operation game with Makey Makey. Both schools then shared and celebrated their creations.
  9. Read a book like Laura Fleming’s ‘World’s of Making – If you’re new to the whole makerspace movement, then this book is a fine place to start. It was one of the first books on the subject that I read when I was just starting to dip my toe into the making waters.
  10. You could also read ‘The Art of Tinkering’ by Karen Wilkinson and Mike Petrich. I’ve had a lot of colleagues recommend it to me and it’s the next read on my book pile.
  11. Robot tag? Yes, it’s completely silly and very, very fun.
  12. Enjoy a round of robot golf – Why wait till Sunday to hit the links? This week students will be transforming my library into a mini-golf course – complete with water hazards! The goal is to have students challenge their peers to program a Sphero Sprk+ to navigate the holes that each team has designed.
  13. Code your robot through a maze – Robots are a great way to teach coding, and tasks like this make the abstract challenge of coding much more tangible. Plus trying to get your Sphero SPRK+ through a maze is ridiculously fun…sphero sprk+ vhs maze
  14. Do some robot art – Building Littlebits doodle bots is a ton of fun, as is painting with your Shpero SPRK+ 
  15. Build your own ‘MakerED Learning Network’ – Jim Rohn once said: “You are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” This idea is true in most areas of life, including making. Which making voices are you listening to on a regular basis? Who is inspiring you each morning and fueling your imagination with great ideas? Some fabulous MakerEd voices I keep in my circle include:
  16. Host a Makerspace Pro-D event – You don’t have to a MakerEd ‘Jedi Master’ in order to facilitate a discussion group. But by starting a discussion in your school district you can inspire others and help build a community of making.
  17. Host a Maker Meetup with www.meetup.com. Connecting with other makers is a great way to share ideas, information and get inspiration. Makered.org has a great article about the benefits of doing this which you can read about here.
  18. Attend a Makerspace conference – Be prepared to make new friends, get new ideas, and have a blast.
  19. Visit a maker Faire
  20. Have a gear swap – lend and swap resources with other makers in your school district in order to create new making opportunities, test new resources and make your own budget go further.
  21. Have a school wide cardboard challenge – packing tape, glue and cardboard are all you need to create some epic builds and design awesomeness.
  22. Watch Cain’s Arcade. It’s inspiring.
  23. Have your kids build a retro game station – Remember those afternoon game-a-thons from your misspent youth? Even if years ago your gaming system made it’s way into a landfill (or recycling depot), recreating it is easy, using a Raspberry Pi and this tutorial.
  24. Become a Digital Maker – The worlds of computing and traditional crafts and hobbies needn’t be separate. Amazing things happen when you allow the traditional and the digital to overlap, like some of these examples of wearable tech from Make Magazine.
  25. Try some coding – If you’re nervous about coding then here’s some good news… coding has come a long way from when I was a kid. Visual languages like Scratch are designed expressly for teaching coding, are easy to learn, surprisingly powerful, and have a massive community of online users ready to offer ideas, inspiration and support. Scratch is free to use and has a wealth of well written tutorials that will get you and your kids coding in no time.
  26. Have your students code a video game – There are so many good scratch game tutorials out there One young man in particular with the YouTube name of McGuy is cranking out a number of first rate tutorials for games in Scratch.
  27. Build a Santa Catcher – Using Scratch and a Raspberry Pi you can prove that ‘jolly old Saint Nick’ really does exist!
  28. Build a high tech Raspberry Pi powered bird house
  29. Create your own pirate radio station – Makezine.com has a fabulous tutorial for this. With just a Raspberry Pi and a few extra bits your makerspace can be pumping out the hits over the airwaves!
  30. Turn your Raspberry Pi into a Weather Station
  31. Make the world’s cheapest green screen – Don’t break the bank purchasing a green screen setup for video. All you need is a little free wall space, some sheets of green paper, some masking tape, and one of dozens of  free apps and you are all set to have your kids do their video presentation against a background in France, or their report on outer space from OUTER SPACE!!
  32. Design some rockets – Using little more than a 2 liter pop bottle, a bike pump and this tutorial, you might just launch the next generation of aeronautic engineers and rocket scientists.
  33. Create some WOW! moments
  34. Launch a potatoe into OUTER SPACE! 
  35. Subscribe to MagPi Magazine. You can download the PDF for free or purchase the hard copy, which helps fund the publication. At the time I’m posting this, MagPi is offering a FREE Raspberry Pi Zero W with every subscription. Works for me 😉
  36. Host a science fair
  37. Hack some Lego !
  38. Have a paper airplane design challenge
  39. Make a Makey Makey banana keyboard – This is serious fun, and is the makerspace equivalent of coding ‘Hello world!’
  40. Why stop at 5 keys when you could build an 88 key piano!
  41. Try making a photo booth with Makey Makey or follow this tutorial from Colleen Graves to make your own candid camera.
  42. Hack some poetry
  43. Build a ‘Bookie Monster’ – An extra special thank you to Colleen Graves and the Makers over at Scotts Ridge Middle School Library Learning Commons for this wonderful idea. I have 4 young makers who are busy deconstructing this project and building a version in our own library.
  44. Have a laser maze challenge! Can’t you just hear the Mission Impossible theme…

  45. Build a musical staircase – It’s official. I’m not allowed to retire until I pull this off at my school.
  46. Take your Makey Makey to the next level – Check out Makey Makey Labz for project ideas, guides and a gallery full of MakerEd inspiring projects.
  47. Use Making to solve a real wold problem – My Vice Principal Jason came to me last week to talk about the challenge the school was having to get more students to use the outside recycling bins. We came up with the idea of modifying the ‘Bookie Monster’ concept to sneakily introduce recycling containers on the playground that ‘burp’ whenever a piece of recycling is deposited! More on this to follow…
  48. Have some fun with paper circuits!

  49. Explore conductive ink
  50. Get inspired by what’s possible – This project by Jie Qi  shows the beauty that can be created when we integrate art and technology.
  51. Go nuts with 45 Paper circuit projects from Makerspaces.com’s book ‘Paper Circuits for Makerspaces’ – The book is jam packed with great projects and easy to follow diagrams.
  52. Make your own squishy circuits
  53. Get in the habit of re tweeting and sharing great MakerEd content – If you see an awesome tutorial or an inspiring project then share it with the world!
  54. Host a guest maker – Within your school community you’ll have a number of parents and fellow teachers with some remarkable skill sets. Why not invite a carpenter, artist, engineer or coder to be a guest maker in your space?
  55. Let students take the lead – Many of your students also have some remarkable making skills. Why not encourage one to lead a making activity?
  56. Have an ‘I want to make…’ board – Beg borrow steal or buy a small bulletin board and let students post their ideas for making projects that interest them.
  57. Post project ideas in your makerspace and make building challenge cards – Often these can be a great way to get students started and spark some excitement.
  58. Build your own whiteboard tables – Take your old battered tables and turn them into inspiration generating machines. With just a little elbow grease, a product like IdeaPaint, and the willingness to bend a few school rules, my principal and I were able to turn several old tables into brainstorming design centers. The image from my previous article was actually drawn on one of these tables: 7 things I wish I'd known about starting a makerspace
  59. Film some white board animations
  60. Try making clay-mation films
  61. Give yourself permission to take some risks – We know that kids learn better when we eliminate the fear of failure. The same is true for teachers. The next time you have an opportunity to step outside of your comfort zone – go for it! What’s the worst that could happen?
  62. Remember you are allowed to fail – Not all of your projects are going to work out. That’s OK…
  63. Value process over product – Most ideas take multiple attempts to be successfully realized. Celebrate and highlight the ideas, attitudes and efforts, not the outcomes.
  64. Explicitly teach the skills of collaboration
  65. Build a language of making – decomposition, iteration, prototyping… get these and similar words into your student’s vocabulary.
  66. Have a catapult challenge
  67. Have a Lego build off
  68. Make a Lego table – Cut base plates to size and then glue them to an old desk to create a designated Lego building center.
  69. Build an EPIC Lego wall – The first time I saw this I was over at Diana’s website www.renovatedlearning.com. She has a great tutorial for putting together your own Lego wall, and her site is one of the best places that a new maker could go to get ideas, information and inspiration for how to get their MakerEd journey started. 
  70. Share a Pep Talk – One of the things about my makerspace that I love is that in here we don’t just help people make things, we help make people aware of their own potential. Sprinkle a little inspiration in between your making activities, with something like this:
  71. Celebrate effort and Promote Resiliency
  72. Get creative with K’nex – Students can spend hours designing incredible inventions with this design toy. I even found a tutorial for this incredible marble track over at www.instructables.com 
  73. Build the tallest tower – This challenge can be done with plastic cups, marshmallows and pasta sticks, playing cards, just about anything you can think of…
  74. Build a geodesic dome 
  75. Conduct a Pop Up Book workshop 
  76. Build a culture of creativity, curiosity and kindness
  77. Set up a public building station outside of your library or makerspace
  78. 3-D print something
  79. Build a paper roller coaster – There are great opportunities for learning principles of math and physics with this incredibly engaging engineering challenge. A wonderful set of templates can be purchased from www.paperrollercoasters.com.
  80. Build a paper home for the 3 little pigs that can’t be blown over by the big bad fan… 
  81. Introduce Origami 
  82. Run a cartooning workshop
  83. Prank your principal with a little help from Silly String, a Blynk Board, and this tutorial from SparkFun:
  84. Start an after school maker club
  85. Subscribe to Make Magazine. This publication is loaded with excellent tutorials and gets me inspired to ask ‘What can I be doing in my space?’
  86. Make some magic! – There are literally hundreds of magic tricks that require very simple props that can be constructed as part of a makerspace activity. There is a lot of science and engineering behind magic, and a makerspace is the perfect place to explore it!
  87. Start a ‘Spy School’ – Host a maker unit around spy craft topics like codes, disguises and other spy gear!
  88. Make and break some codes – Getting students to make and then learn to break various types of codes is incredibly engaging and develops a broad range of problem solving skills.
  89. Conduct a ‘Turing Test’
  90. Build a ‘motion detection squirt gun’ using your Arduino and this tutorial from www.lifehacker.com.
  91. Create a laser turret with your Ardiuno and this tutorial from instructables.com.
  92. Try one of these 10 great Arduino projects for beginners from www.makeuseof.com.
  93. Make a musical instrument out of light (and an Arduino) 
  94. Write and share your own making tutorial – You have some special skills and interests, so why not share one of your projects with your fellow makers?
  95. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable – All the magic in life happens just 6 inches outside of your comfort zone, so why not commit to stepping just outside of your comfort zone at least 1 time per week and doing something new? Try it and amazing things will happen… Trust me, I know from personal experience!
  96. One way you could make yourself step outside of your comfort zone is to grab your copy of ‘The Big book of Makerspace Projects’ and flip to a random page. Whatever project you turn to, make that your goal for next week!
  97. Pinch yourself and realize how lucky you are to be having this much fun doing something that you are wildly passionate about!
  98. Make your own list – There is something powerful about writing out your own goals. Think of 10 things you’d like to make with your students this year, write them out and then post your list where you’ll see it every morning. I keep my list by my coffee maker, so I’ll see it every morning and keep my goals front of mind.
  99. Add a ‘must do’ MakerEd project to this list – leave a comment in the comments section below with your awesome MakerEd idea and if it sounds good I’ll credit you and add it to this list!
  100. This last space is for YOU! What ‘must do’ MakerEd project or activity would YOU suggest?

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