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What should I purchase for my STEM classroom or makerspace?

Updated: Sep 10, 2022


Want to know the top 100 STEM equipment and materials for 2022? We have an updated blog post here.


I see this question raised quite a bit in educator circles as educators across the globe are being tasked to initiate or run a STEM program in their school or organization. The STEM program may take on different names- makerspace, fablab, innovation lab, etc., but ultimately it is a space where students are tinkering, solving problems, making messes, and using both their brains and hands to "think and do" as STEM professionals.


Taking on building a STEM program from scratch can be a very nerve wracking because there are so many resources available- yet those resources are incredibly decentralized. We hope to be able to assist educators in navigating that process!


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First off, I highly recommend a book that can be helpful in this regard titled Leadership in Integrative STEM Education that goes into a lot of depth in this area! The authors visited a number of schools with exemplary STEM programs and made note of the instructional and curricular strategies, tools/equipment, and cultural characteristics of those programs.



Anchoring from some of the suggesting from the book above, we will add the function of what students are doing in the STEM space and then provide some examples.


Coding- This ability to communicate with computers is quickly becoming a student favorite as students learn how to develop software, build websites and apps, and design video games. There are a number of curricula and programs available such as Scratch Jr, Scratch, and Code.org. However if you are looking to spend some funds for your STEM space, consider checking out Arduinos, Bloxels, Littlebits, Makey Makey, Raspberry Pi starter kits, Spheros, and Squishy Circuits.


Combining- Often times in a STEM space, students will be creating a new artifact. To have two components of an artifact come together, consider purchasing items like clamps, drills, hot glue guns, and wrenches.


Forming- Dremel tools, Files, Rasps, Soldering irons


Material Processing- Do you envision students creating items for the school bookstore or designing gifts for their families? A great way to introduce entrepreneurialism and manufacturing education- consider purchasing a hot press, laser cutter, sewing machines, screen printer, and/or 3D printer.


Materials for student use (consumables)- Aluminum foil, balloons, cardboard, cardstock, ceramics, composites, copper tape with conductive adhesive, cotton balls, metals, newspaper, paint, paperclips, plaster, polymers, rubber bands, sand and soil, scrap paper, straws, string, tape (e.g., duct tape, moving tape), toothpicks, wood


Materials for student use (nonconsumables)- K’Nex, LED Lights, Legos, marbles, modeling clay, Play-Doh, writing utensils (e.g., pencils, pens, markers)


Measuring, analyzing, and testing- Analog and digital platform scales, indicator strips, micrometers, pipettes, rulers, tape measures, thermometers, Vernier probes, weight sets


Observing- Audio and visual equipment, binoculars, microscopes, 3D models


Safety- Student safety should always be of the highest priority, especially if they are going to be doing action-based activities in the classroom and using equipment and tools that can cause harm if not handled properly. Aprons, ear plugs, first aid kits, gloves (chemical/liquid resistant/ insulating protection), headphones, and safety glasses are wise decisions to include in a STEM space.


Separating- Pliers, scissors, utility knives


This is certainly not an inclusive list, but can be helpful to think about what students will be doing in the space and what instruments or tools are helpful for students to go through some type of process. However, a mission of Ben + STEM is SUSTAINABLE STEM. Therefore, our other posts relate to STEM activities, supplies, and equipment that are eco-friendly. Check them out!


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