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Makerspace: What? How? Where?  

Resources and project ideas to help librarians create the best Makerspaces in their libraries.
Last Updated: Sep 27, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts
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Mystery Bag Cards & Labels


STEM for Kids: Design a Paper Plate Pinball Game

Materials for Paper Plate Pinball Challenge

Paper plates (The ones with high edges work best.)

Directions for Paper Plate Pinball Challenge

Watch some pinball machine YouTube for those students who are not familiar with pinball machines. Notice the different ramps, bumpers, and other pinball machine parts.

1. Provide each child with one paper plate and access to various craft supplies. Demonstrated how to create some simple arches using strips of construction paper.

 2. Let the kids get busy creating and testing out their pinball machines with marbles.


Mystery Bag STEM Design Challenge

Materials for Mystery Bag Challenge

  • One bag per student (We used gift bags like these, but you could also use lunch bags, grocery bags, or even large baggies.)
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Various kinds of recyclables (cardboard tubes, cardboard, newspaper, aluminum foil etc.)
  • A variety of other materials (paper plates, plastic cups, string, yarn, pipe cleaners etc.)
  • Mystery Bag Challenge Cards (located in the box at bottom left of this page)
  • Optional: Mystery Bag Labels  (located in the box at bottom left of this page)


How to Set Up Your Mystery Bags

1. Each student will need one bag. (You can leave the bags blank or attach the free Mystery Bag Design Labels to the front of each bag.)

2. Place about 8-12 items into each bag. You’ll want to be sure the items are varied. Each bag should contain at least one larger item that can serve as a base for the design, and then an assortment of smaller items. We also made sure no two bags were filled with exactly the same items. That added a level of excitement to the activity. The kids loved seeing which “mystery” materials everyone got in their bags!

 3. You can use any materials you have on hand- be creative! Lucy and I saved up recyclables for a few weeks: egg cartons, cardboard boxes that we cut up, plastic containers, plastic lids, empty paper towel rolls etc. We also used small sheets of paper that students would be able to cut up and use, small paper plates, plastic cups, random craft materials like popsicle sticks, straws, buttons, rubber bands, pipe cleaners, string, yarn etc.

Taking Part in the Mystery Bag Challenge

1. Print out the free mystery bag challenge cards. Cut them apart.

2. Give each child a mystery bag (already filled with the mystery items).

 3. Give each child a challenge card.

4. Each child should also have access to scissors and tape- either scotch tape or masking tape.

 5. Children complete the challenge on the card using only the materials in their mystery bag.

6. When they are finished, ask them about their design or invite them to share their design with each other.

Tips and Other Ideas

  • The last page of the free challenge cards set is blank and editable. You can type in your own challenges for your students or print out the blank page and invite your students to come up with and write their own challenges for their peers.



Fun to do Makerspace Projects

  • Halloween STEM Challenge: Pumpkin Patch Paper Plate Marble Maze
    Design a paper plate marble maze that looks just like a pumpkin patch in this Halloween STEM challenge for kids! Children will explore various physics concepts (like balance and gravity) as they create and design mazes and obstacles for marbles to travel through in their pumpkin patch paper plate marble mazes in this fun fall science activity!
    Basically its Letters cut out of Cardboard (any size you like) and wrapping it with yarn. You can use a variety of colors, styles, and sizes of yarn. Just have fun!
    STEM Challenges: Straws are such a great material to use for your STEM projects. They are easy to use, come in many colors and sizes, and they are inexpensive!

    This is going to be a quick look at some of our challenges. If possible I have linked these back to blog posts of the past that would give you more details.
  • Stop Motion Animation
    For the uninitiated, stop motion animation is a film making technique that makes inanimate objects appear to move on their own. Think Gumby or Wallace and Gromit.

    To make it work, you place an object in front of a camera and snap a photo. You then move the object a tiny bit and snap another photo. Repeat this process twenty to ten thousand times, play back the sequence in rapid progression, and the object appears to move fluidly across the screen.
  • How to make a 3D book
    This article is in French, but has English translations.
  • Corner Page Bookmarks
    Page corner bookmarks are cute, practical and easy to make, easy to customize, and will set you apart from all those same-same flat rectangular bookmarks.
  • Science & Engineering for Kids: Paper Building Blocks
    Most paper crafts revolve around creating something fancy out of paper, but did you know that you could use paper as a structural material? These simple paper building blocks are a great way to demonstrate engineering for kids.
  • Spy Girls! Just for Girls.
    A program of Girls, Math & Science Partnership [GMSP]–Click! engages girls, ages 10–14, to solve mysteries and complete covert missions using important science concepts as agents-in-training. The program utilizes relatable narratives and cutting-edge technology, while encouraging tactile-based inquiry and real-world problem solving skills.
  • The Arts and Crafts Makerspace
  • Creating the Tallest Cup Tower: A STEM Challenge
    This simple challenge of stacking small cups to the tallest possible height is to get student groups to work together to create the tallest stack of cups possible.

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