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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 part 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 serving as tools to use for design and creation. 

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 students have clear direction and compatible devices.

Grades: K–12
Price:
Free, Free to try, Paid

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.

Grades: K–8
Price:
Free, Free to try

Hello Ruby

Crafty, mostly screen-free approach to computer science

Bottom Line: These creative, beautifully made craft- and interest-based projects have the potential to bring students -- particularly girls -- into the world of coding and computers.

Grades: 2–5
Price:
Free

Gizmos & Gadgets

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.

Grades: 2–8
Price:
Free, Paid

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.

Grades: 2–12
Price:
Free, Paid

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.

Grades: 2–12
Price:
Free, Paid

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.

Grades: 3–8
Price:
Free

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.

Grades: 3–8
Price:
Free to try

Kai's Clan

Innovative STEAM package takes robot coding to the next level

Bottom Line: A nearly perfect spin on STEAM coding that combines a bunch of technologies into one, and effectively fuses the real and virtual worlds.

Grades: 3–12
Price:
Paid

Teachable Machine

Creative intro to machine learning and AI doesn't require code

Bottom Line: For students with some creativity and tech skills, this can offer a new spin on more traditional computer science tools.

Grades: 3–12
Price:
Free

Tinkercad

Amazingly simple yet powerful online CAD tool turns kids into makers

Bottom Line: Full-featured site and app make iterative 3D design accessible, social, and relevant.

Grades: 3–12
Price:
Free

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.

Grades: 4–12
Price:
Free

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.

Grades: 4–12
Price:
Free

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.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free

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.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free

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.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free, Paid

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.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free to try, Paid

Make:Online

Fuel creative makers with project ideas, reviews, and community

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

Grades: 8–12
Price:
Free

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.

Grades: 9–12
Price:
Paid

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