Top Ten Makerspace Favorites of 2017

Top Ten Makerspace Favorites of 2017

This year's New Media Consortium/COSN's 2017 K-12 Horizon Report deemed makerspaces the future of edtech and predicted full adoption in K-12 in one year or less! It is more important than ever that we plan and create GREAT makerspaces! Part of doing so is selecting the right materials, resources and supplies to support the experiences you want your students to have in your makerspace. In what has become an annual tradition, I am thrilled to highlight some of my favorite makerspace-related things for this year. As always, I am grateful to my friend and colleague, Travis Lape, for his input on this list! It is my hope that this year's favorites encourage you to think 'out of the box' as you choose products to support your makerspace themes.

POWERUP 3.0– Smartphone Controlled Paper Airplane

Flight has long been a theme in our makerspace, and that is what led me to the POWERUP 3.0 Smartphone Controlled Paper Airplane. POWERUP 3.0's durable, crash proof design transforms ordinary paper planes into app controlled machines. Controllable directly from a smartphone free app. Just tilt your smartphone to steer your airplane left or right, increase or decrease throttle to ascend or descend.


The foundation of my work lies in storytelling, therefore I was thrilled to discover PodPi, which does a brilliant job of using storytelling as a way to teach children about concepts that many makerspaces include. PodPi is a comic book series that will inspire your kids to learn more about electronics and JavaScript coding. They will start with building their first simple circuits and end with WiFi enabled devices powering the Internet of Things (IoT). The engaging and immersive lessons use their popular comic book format.

Buildr TAPE

You can now turn almost anything into a surface that allows you to build with legos! Buildr TAPE™ is flexible, cuttable, and wearable toy building block reusable adhesive tape. This peel and stick TAPE™ instantly transforms virtually any surface into a bendable base for building new amazing creations with your traditional toy building blocks. Compatible with Lego®.

Thinkpak: A Brainstorming Card Deck

Looking for a unique invention, an untapped market for an existing product, or a new solution? Stretch and flex your mental muscles with Thinkpak, a creative-thinking tool designed by Michael Michalko, author of the groundbreaking book Thinkertoys. This deck of illustrated idea-stimulating cards distills Michalko’s proven methods, allowing you to view challenges in a new light. Shuffle, mix, and match the cards to spark fresh insights, then use the critical evaluation techniques to test, shape, and refine your original ideas into realistic creations. Filled with thought-provoking questions and examples of the techniques put to use, Thinkpak provides endless creative fuel to fire up the imagination.


These cards are a great tool for getting your students, employees, and/or team thinking creatively. Pick 3 cards, one of each color. Arrange cards in order to establish the challenge. For example "Construction workers need a way to save water that works on the moon." Come up with a new product or service that fulfills the need. Show to your friends. Pick the winner. Play again! Great to warm up both ideation and prototyping, as well as a for rapid design cycles.

'I Can Make Books' by Kristina Holzweiss

My point of entry into the maker movement was through literacy, so I have long recognized the value of integrating related concepts and resources into a makerspace. Although I am not always a fan of makerspace project books, these 'I Can Make Books' written by Kristina Holzweiss and Amy Barth, are some of my current favorites. What I love most about them is how they are written for students to be able to use to guide themselves through the process of making and creating, allowing for a much more empowering and authentic experience, rather than the project ideas coming from an adult.

The Empathy Toy

Many school makerspaces integrate the Design Thinking Process into their spaces. Empathy is the first step in design thinking because it is a skill that allows us to understand and share the same feelings that others feel. Therefore, it is critical that we as educators find ways to nurture empathy in our spaces, and the Empathy Toy, created by Twenty One Toys, is one of my favorite ways to do so. The Empathy Toy is a blindfolded puzzle game that can only be solved when players learn to understand each other.

MackinMaker Lego® Compatible Wall

With many schools creating Lego® walls and tables in their makerspaces, why not offer a more customized experiences that is unique to your school community? Thanks to MackinMaker's Lego® Compatible Wall service, you can now create walls and tables that reflect specific themes (some of which can be seen below) such as space, transportation and landforms. Don't see a theme for you? They also offer a service that allows you to make custom-made designs that are unique to your space!

Edison Table

I have written before about how the future of makerspaces lies in mobility, which is one of the reasons why I love the Edison Table, created by Custom Educational Furniture, so much. The Edison Table, also known as the 'Ed' Table, offers many possiblities for school makerspaces, including Integrated Clean Up, Magnetic Stool Storage, Built-in Storage, and Integrated Power & USB. Maximizing creative time while minimizing the amount of logistical preparation work and clean-up was the driving factor behind the design concept. The table is also available in two heights.

'Kids Invent Stuff' YouTube channel

Not everything that is GREAT for a makerspace has to cost money! Here is one that is FREE! Be sure to check out the Kids Invent Stuff Youtube channel. where kids can get their own invention ideas built by real engineers!

Well, there you have it…the Worlds of Making Top Ten Makerspace Favorites of 2017!

I am already on the lookout for my Top 10 Favorites for 2018! Be on the lookout, for a chance to nominate your favorites!

Cross posted at

Laura Fleming has been a classroom teacher and media specialist in grades K-8 and currently is a Library Media Specialist for grades 9-12. She is a well known writer, speaker and consultant on next-generation teaching methods and tools, and the author of the best-selling Worlds of Learning: Best Practices for Establishing a Makerspace for Your School