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Digital Resources for School Makerspaces

The maker movement and school makerspaces and labs might seem new, but hands-on creation has a long history. From the arts and crafts movement to technical education and shop class to the hacker culture that spawned Apple, Microsoft, and more, tinkering and making is pat of the fabric of learning and invention. Now we're seeing hands-on activities such as robotics, electronics, carpentry, and even software development become a bigger part of schools. There's no doubt that making something from scratch is a core component of learning, requiring confidence, imagination, and ingenuity while building conceptual understanding. Maker and DIY-focused apps and websites can be a huge help, providing students with scaffolding and schematics for their next project or as tools to use for design and creation. 

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3DBear AR

3D design and augmented reality merge in creative, interactive app

Bottom line: A great fit for classroom or makerspace settings as long as kids have compatible devices.

Makers Empire

Stellar 3D design hub promotes innovation, collaboration, and creation

Bottom line: This is a great design and creation tool that teachers and students can use to be innovative and share ideas with a vibrant community of makers.

Workbench

Find and assign STEAM tasks with dynamic project-based learning hub

Bottom line: Dynamic resource for finding, creating, and rating lessons that support STEAM and PBL.

littleBits Invent

Top-notch tool empowers kids to invent, build, and control wirelessly

Bottom line: Easy-to-use, versatile electronic invention set that works wirelessly with your hand-held device.

Wizard School

Curated videos and creative challenges ignite active learning

Bottom line: There's plenty of material to inspire kids to embark on learning adventures that get them to explore, create, and share safely on the screen and off.

3D Slash

Minecraft-like 3D modeling (and printing) made super easy for all ages

Bottom line: This may be the fastest, cheapest route from idea to 3D printing out there, if you don't mind low-res, pixelated designs.

3DC

3D modeling tool allows for simple or complex creations

Bottom line: This is a good 3D design and modeling platform, but it might take a bit of exploration to really see the true potential.

Curiosity Machine

Kids build, share, receive pro feedback with awesome engineering site

Bottom line: Though it may not be an instant fit for your classroom, the exceptional quality of the site’s projects and processes makes it worth any problem solving.

Design Squad Global

Fun engineering problems encourage classroom competition, innovation

Bottom line: Design Squad Global makes learning STEAM concepts fun through hands-on activities and easy-to-understand scientific explanations.

DIY

Design, build, and share new things offline and online

Bottom line: DIY motivates kids to tackle a wide range of problems with independent and scientific thinking.

Tinkercad

Amazingly simple yet powerful online CAD tool turns kids into makers

Bottom line: A big step forward in making iterative 3D design more accessible and social.

KidsThinkDesign

Projects inspire creativity; a place for kids' sharing would boost fun

Bottom line: A go-to site for teachers looking for well-presented project ideas; kids will need opportunities to share work locally.

Made with Code

Enticing projects and inspiring videos offer anyone an intro to coding

Bottom line: Solid intro to coding with diverse projects geared toward tween/teen girls; sets foundation to explore deeper level coding and logic activities.

Science Buddies

A magic wand for those seeking science project support and success

Bottom line: Take the jitters out of science or engineering projects and fairs; this remarkable site coaches and supports students, parents, and teachers.

Autodesk Design Academy

Outstanding project-based tutorials for popular engineering software

Bottom line: The projects found here are a great way to teach and learn digital design; all are truly fantastic (and free!), with everything you need ready to go.

Instructables

Endless collection of DIY projects; good for sharing and inspiration

Bottom line: User-generated projects inspire sharing and learning, though more refined navigation would make it easier to sift through all the great ideas.

SketchUp

Make learning meaningful through 3D design

Bottom line: SketchUp is a fantastic, subject-agnostic tool that does take time to learn but helps students gain truly useful, transferable skills.

WhiteBox Learning

Design, analyze, and then build STEM applications

Bottom line: Complete learning modules include simple CAD design simulation tools, a digital competition, and options for hands-on building.

Make:

Fuel creative makers with project ideas, reviews, and community

Bottom line: Excellent DIY resource that empowers kids to learn by making and experimenting.

Grafio 3 - Diagram Maker

Flexible app transforms sketches into pro-level designs and diagrams

Bottom line: A terrific choice for creating simple diagrams or presentations on iOS.

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