Tag Archives: Classroom Visuals

Making the Makerspace: How to Get Started Today


“In a makerspace, students get to make their own meaning.”

– Karen Cheser, Maker Movement

Educators love the Makerspace concept, because it allows students to dig in and explore concepts they may have learned from lectures, books and written assignments in a whole new way. Whether you already have a space in your school, or are exploring the Makerspace as a new project, the benefits to students for STEM and STEAM learning are a great motivation to think about the newest technologies and supplies that can help students win!

Creating a Makerspace at Your School is Closer Than You Think

If you’re looking into ways to encourage hands-on learning at your school this year, it’s not too late to start planning your Makerspace. Our brand new eBook walks you through the main issues to consider, and offers advice on equipment, curriculum and funding.

Have Fun With Your Makerspace!

  • Include equipment like a poster maker, or a cutout maker so students can design and print visual learning tools.
  • Encourage students to build things like duct tape wallets, night lights or bird houses to get them off of devices and into the real world manipulation of objects.
  • Expand horizons with coding stations, graphic design programs and other computer-based learning that helps students move toward the careers of the future.

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Funding Your Makerspace


As you may know, schools throughout the United States are getting excited about the Makerspace as a place of creativity and expansion for students of all ages, but how do you fund your Makerspace? When it comes to improving education in STEM subjects, Makerspaces have been touted as a fantastic way to get students involved in hands on learning from physics to computer programming and much more. While it can seem daunting to get a new Makerspace up and running, there are actually many resources out there for funding your new space. From government grants to private sponsorship, this blog post takes you through some of the best ways to fund your Makerspace.

Funding Your Makerspace with Government Grants

The government is ready to help all students prepare for the STEM jobs that will help build our nation into a stronger, more competitive market in the fields of science and technology.

For example, Title I Funding gives financial assistance to elementary and secondary schools with low-achieving students to boost their ability to meet academic standards. For students with special needs, IDEA is a great resource to help fund projects that will go towards helping these students.

While it will take time and effort, government-sponsored grants can go a long way into helping provide resources for your Makerspace that will keep students engaged. Here are more great grant resources to explore:

Corporate Sponsorship and Competitions for Your Makerspace

Corporate sponsorship is a great way to get funding for your Makerspace. Searching online for local STEM competitions is a great way to showcase the potential of any Makerspace and a way to possibly win a monetary prize to boost student pride. National competitions include the Google Science Fair, and the STEM Video Game Challenge for middle and high schoolers.

Other corporate sponsorships come in the form of grants, such as the Lowe’s Toolbox for Education. A great place to start is to research local businesses, and larger corporations who have offices near you, to find out what types of programs may fit your needs. The next step is outreach. It can be an involved process, but corporate support is one of the best ways to get your Makerspace up and running.

Check out this great Blog Post on how to prepare applications and outreach materials for private funding.

Crowdfunding Your Makerspace

Students can be encouraged to take initiative and create a crowdfunding campaign with the help of their Makerspace leader. Usually this entails a creative video, which can be done on any smartphone, information about how the money will be used, and incentives for donations.

  • Kickstarter is the original crowd-funding website. Projects have 30 days to get a set amount of money or everyone gets their donation back. This gives the project a sense of urgency, which makes people want to invest sooner rather than later. Two tricks: be as specific as possible about what the money will be used for, and try to raise a lot of money upfront – the more money a project has within the first week, the better chances it will succeed.
  • GoFundMe does not have an all-or-nothing outlook nor does it have deadlines. However, this does mean that people may not be in a hurry to donate, and whatever you promise to them you must deliver, whether you are fully funded or not. There are also fees involved for using the service, so many programs ask that larger donations are made directly, rather than through a platform like GoFundMe.
  • On Indiegogo, you can choose to have a deadline or not. They have a more diverse base of donors, but statistically, people donate less than to other sites.

Go Out and Make!

Makerspaces are about being creative and getting into the DIY spirit. Not every Makerspace has to involve expensive tools and 3D printers. These types of spaces can provide a place to draw, sew, hammer, build or program. There are so many configurations and ideas to explore, and the ways in which funding comes together can depend on the specific plan for your Makerspace. We hope these resources help you to get started.

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Building the Makerspace Curriculum


Makerspaces provide students the opportunity to create visuals for school assignments, perform science experiments, and even build robots. Projects are only limited by the space’s leader and students’ imaginations and ingenuity. Through Makerspace projects, students of all ages can learn problem solving, collaboration with others to work as a team, and job skills like computer programming, user interface design, and even social media networking. These skills can be applied to future STEM jobs, or at least prepare students for HOW to approach learning marketable skills. This blog shares some project ideas and curriculum examples to get you started with your Makerspace.

K-6 Makerspace Curriculum Ideas

Because they are still learning about how life works, elementary school students tend to be more curious and the most willing to try something, even if it fails. Getting them to try something isn’t going to be the hard part, but they may need some guidance. Setting up a project can be as simple as asking a question: What kind of building can you make out of cardboard? What is a tool that you need at home right now? What can you design using popsicle sticks, bottle caps, and/or water bottles? What problem would it solve?

One example of a ready made curriculum to try is a free program for elementary schoolers to learn about computer programming called Alice, a project developed by students at Carnegie Mellon. With plenty of people discussing Elementary Makerspaces and resources, these areas can create a fun and educational environment for any child.

Looking for More Ideas? Here are some great examples of Elementary School Makerspace Projects:

Middle School Makerspace Curriculum Ideas

Giving middle schoolers the ability to take charge of their own learning encourages engagement and active participation. At this level, competitions and scholarships can come more into focus, and higher stakes can often provide motivation for students.

One example of a way to get students excited in the Makerspace is to encourage participation in a science fair or competition. Science fairs have become more and more competitive, and the days of exploding model volcanos are long gone. Students can now program games, design smart phone apps, and make software with the right tools. With more access to resources, students can now win more scholarships and take their projects farther along than ever before possible.

Prestigious national science competitions include:

High School Makerspace Curriculum Ideas

With more schooling comes more elaborate projects. With more elaborate projects, having access to good equipment will ensure that the next generation will have the skills necessary to enter the job market, especially in STEM. Think of what these two self-taught brothers from Haiti could do with an equipped Makerspace.

Here are some of the most innovative science fair winners of 2015 in some of the most prestigious science competitions:

Imagine what these students can contribute to our world as they get older. With a good Makerspace, these and other students can go even farther and do more than before.

Whatever you decide to do with a Makerspace, the students will be sure to enjoy the opportunity for hands on learning. The Makerspace puts abstract applications into real-life situations, making it the best way to show, not tell.

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Owning the Makerspace: Take charge of student success


Makerspaces allow students to experiment with hands-on learning in an environment that encourages creativity and expands horizons beyond the classroom. This blog is all about owning the Makerspace – cultivating the leadership that will need to be at the helm to help you take charge of student success. As in any space with schedules to manage, equipment to maintain, and people to motivate, there’s got to be a competent, inspired leader to take the reigns. In a school environment, a motivated teacher or librarian usually leads the way for the Makerspace. Read on to find out more about owning the Makerspace.

Preparing to Lead a Makerspace

For any teacher, librarian, or community member who is interested in helping build or maintain a Makerspace at his or her school, there are webinars, seminars and workshops that give new Makerspace leaders guidance and support.

Here are some great resources:

  • Maker Ed, a non-profit organization, is dedicated to helping schools develop their own Makerspaces. They have received a $1 million grant from Google to help them do just that.
  • MakerSpace website is a site started by the founders of Make Magazine, who started the Maker movement. Makers from all over the world can share their ideas, insights, and innovations.
  • Edutopia has many articles on how to design, create and fund a Makerspace.
  • For K-6th grade teachers, the NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) has several articles about Makerspaces for young children.

Funding Your Makerspace

Spinitar understands how daunting it can be to implement a Makerspace, especially from a funding perspective. In fact, we wrote a blog post all about funding your makerspace, but here are a few good resources to get you started:

  • Competitions are a great way to get students involved and engaged with a Makerspace. Student Science and Science OC have lists of good local and national competitions.
  • There are government grants, such as Carl D. Perkins Act, who give money to schools looking to invest in students who would prefer technical programs to a 4-year college or Title I program that helps fund equipment that could help a school with low performing students.
  • Corporate sponsorship is a great avenue as well. Lowe’s Toolbox for Education, for example, will grant up to $5000 to a school for projects just like Makerspaces.
  • Students can participate actively with crowdfunding, using websites such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or GoFundMe. Students, especially with entrepreneurial spirits, can create videos using smartphones and write out guidelines to their specific needs.


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Planning Your Makerspace


Are you ready to start planning your Makerspace? From advances in STEM learning to enhancing classroom theories with hands-on experience, the benefits of having a Makerspace in your school are clear. As our education system works to better the way we teach our children with Common Core and STEM advocacy, the elements of free play can be used to engage the curiosity of our students and to broaden their scope of what is possible with new technology. Students need the right equipment to do so. However, creating an effective Makerspace requires careful planning, financial commitment, and teacher and community commitment. This blog provides a guide to planning your Makerspace.

Students need to be able to use the Makerspace to further their ideas, solve problems, and collaborate with each other, while learning concepts they need for standardized testing in a different, more hands-on methodology. It follows that location, equipment, and teacher-guides are all important elements of making a lasting impact. This blog shares tips on how to get through the planning process so your students can benefit from learning with cutting edge technology.

Finding the Space for Your Makerspace

The first step toward planning your Makerspace is finding the space. What rooms are being underutilized at your school right now? How big is your woodshop? Can a space be re-appropriated depending on the time of day and on which classes are being taught at certain times? Is there a large storage closet that holds junk the school isn’t using? One teacher from California asked to use an old storage facility and uncovered the school’s old woodshop, which still had many tools that were usable. Other options include portable classrooms or sectioned-off areas of larger rooms.

One of the best spaces that many schools can use as a Makerspace is the library. Libraries are moving to be helpful beyond books with internet resources, and these spaces are primed to increase student interaction and learning by adding technology. With the addition of equipment and design software for the computers, the students can find new comfort in their school library, as long as the librarians are okay with the noise.

Designing the Makerspace

Part of planning your Makerspace is deciding how to lay it out. How will your equipment and supplies fit into the space? The best guide is the room itself. Are there enough tables for the students to sit and spread out? Some schools use tables that have been treated so that you can write directly on the table with dry-erase markers, allowing the students to go beyond the norms of 8.5”x11.” Boxes and shelving units can organize the crafts simply and with labels. Certain grade levels can be responsible for keeping assigned parts of the room organized and clean. Involving students in the organization can prevent poor treatment of the equipment and promote greater responsibility for the space.

Of course, organization can only happen if there is something to organize. Tapping into the right funding [link] can make or break the room. There are plenty of ways to get the community involved in helping create this Makerspace.

Planning the Right Equipment for Your Makerspace

Makerspaces should fill students with awe and encourage exploration. Useful equipment for a Makerspace can include:

  • iPads or Tablets: can be used to schedule Makerspace hours, has countless apps to help students learn math, English, and everything else we use tablets for
  • 3D Printer: The holy grail for any school Makerspace; opens up whole new worlds of scientific research, design projects, and even robotic competitions. Not only would students learn how to code and program with the software, but they would also be able to test the physics in real space and problem-solve in unique ways and designs.
  • Professional Poster Printer: comes with design software to create beautiful, professional-looking posters related to school projects and personal interests
  • 2D Cutout Maker: can be used to create shapes that can help visualize all kinds of cycles, numbers, awards, and even puzzles
  • Sewing Machine: not just to make clothes, but can also be used to upholster furniture, patch holes, and make fabric dolls and other toys
  • Workshop equipment: jigsaws, soldering iron, hammers and nails, and don’t forget the aprons and goggles for safety
  • Craft materials: glue gun, markers, scrapbooking paper, stickers, felt, even bottle caps and popsicle sticks


Makerspace Leadership: Getting Teachers to Commit

While it is important for students to initiate their own projects, a Makerspace still needs an effective leader who can create a schedule that provides equal access to students, make sure students are using the equipment correctly, and act as a resource for questions and general information. Most importantly, the teacher will need to lead the charge in funding and finding resources for the Makerspace. A teacher or group of teachers trusted by students and parents alike who are enthusiastic about programming, experience-based learning, and technology can serve as a guide to design and maintain control of the space.

Librarians could be great advisors in this manner. As the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) works to change the image of librarians to teachers in their own right, these particular educators are in the unique position of being able to lead a Makerspace better than anyone else.

Regardless of position, the best teacher will be able to get students, parents, and administrators on board and on the same page. A great leader will be able to hold meetings, keep parents and administrators updated, and delegate tasks to the right people, even students themselves. If the school and the parents work together to pool their resources, there will be no limit to what anyone can do.

Funding Your Makerspace

The difficulty, as always, is funding. The good news is that there are a number of governmental and private-sector opportunities for scholarships and grants to fund a space as innovative as these.

Here are some resources to get you started:

  • Carl D. Perkins Act is a governmental funding source that caters to students who would prefer to enter “career and technical education programs” versus a 4-year college or university. These Makerspaces are perfect areas to give students their first taste of these kinds of programs.
  • Maker Ed is a non-profit organization that is helping schools all over the U.S. start their own Makerspaces who can advise on funding and tips for making a unique Makerspace for your students
  • Corporate sponsorship is a great avenue as well. Lowe’s Toolbox for Education, for example, will grant up to $5000 to a school for projects just like Makerspaces.
  • Students can participate actively with crowdfunding, using websites such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or GoFundMe. Students, especially with entrepreneurial spirits, can create videos using smartphones and write out guidelines to their specific needs. Competitions can be organized between classrooms and/or grades to develop the best campaign in order to engage their creativity.

Hands-on learning and enhancing creativity for middle and high school students ensures the next generation will be prepared to enter a digitally advanced, innovative job market, which includes work in robotics research, computer analysis, and even game design. Makerspaces can help make that happen.

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Advantages of the Makerspace: Using Visual Technology to Encourage STEM Learning


Schools all over the country are seeing the advantages of a Makerspace – a place filled with educational equipment and supplies to help students implement skills they’ve learned in the classroom. The goal of such spaces is to encourage whole-brain learning at an optimal level. Rather than force a child to follow a set curriculum, a Makerspace allows the student to come up with his/her own way to learn. The Makerspace becomes a place for students to have access to equipment, such as a 3D printer, that they can use to turn their ideas into something real.

Makerspaces are most effective when they expand the possibilities in the students’ minds and help them achieve their goals. While Makerspaces work best with a free-for-all feel, students can also benefit from having guides that can leave breadcrumbs in certain directions without pushing the students in any particular way. A well-executed Makerspace drives students to imagine, design, and create anything that their minds desire, while they learn the skills they need to do well on regulated tests and subjects.

Makerspaces Provide Benefits in STEM

Because there is still a great need for more people to enter careers in STEM, especially in the computer and programming fields, Makerspaces are the perfect places to ignite those latent passions. With the Common Core standards wanting to focus on more practical applications, students will need to do hands-on work to explore the connections between the subjects of math and science with technology that will prepare them for these jobs. A forward-thinking school can provide students with such experiential resources inside a Makerspace that can be used during class time as well as within student-initiated organizations and clubs after school. These students can move on to earn more than double their non-STEM-employed colleagues.

Unfortunately, for many students the very idea of a STEM career may seem out of reach because of a lack of understanding or motivation in the subject areas. For example, computer programming can feel quite daunting for those who have trouble understanding mathematical and logical concepts. Makerspaces are a great way to help students “put a face” to math in a way that makes more sense to them, on their own time. After-school guided projects or experiments can help students learn skills and encourage trying, even if it means failing, without the fear of bad grades or embarrassment in front of classroom peers. When students are engaged and encouraged to help each other out in a space that doesn’t limit them, everyone wins.

Visual Learning & Technology for the Makerspace

The key, then, is to provide students with the right tools. While construction paper, scissors, and glue might do the trick for small projects, the real possibilities lie in allowing creativity to have free reign of technology that will actually be used in the jobs of the 21st century.

With technology advancing so quickly, no doubt our students will help design the way we live in the future. Preparing middle and high school students for those challenges will provide a significant advantage. 3D printers can help with grasping physics or scientific concepts by giving the students a chance to design something that they can execute and look for strengths and flaws.

A 2D cutout printer can create numbers, letters, or shapes that can help with conceptual math, or biological stages of cells. There are so many ideas out there for using visual technology to aid understanding of abstract concepts. All these devices come with software that the students can learn and program to fit their needs, creating multiple levels of learning in a timely and engaging fashion. Early introduction to software and programming raises students’ aptitude and desire to work in a computerized field. In a Makerspace, students can learn how to design very specific objects with the 3D printer and can learn computer design using the Poster Maker.

The most important thing we can do for our students is to create a Makerspace that is friendly, user-oriented and broadens their scope of post-school opportunities. With equipped Makerspaces, students can learn these skills early on and find out about STEM jobs that go beyond the doctor-or-lawyer mentality. From biochemist to software developer to web designer, these jobs will ensure a bright future, not just for our students, but for everyone they can influence.

Ready to Read More?
Check out our next blog on Planning Your Makerspace.

Classroom Visuals

How to Use Visual Learning Tools Outside the Classroom


Visual learning tools are traditionally used in classrooms to enhance student learning through charts, manipulatives, and other interactive materials. However, the power of a well-designed visual can extend beyond the teaching context to contribute to student success outside the classroom as well. Spinitar partner VariQuest® offers technologies that also help to empower coaches, counselors, administrators, and support staff to promote student engagement and even fundraise.

Here are some ideas that can help you Educate, Communicate, Motivate and Fundraise ™:


Classroom Rules & Communications

  • Promote good citizenship through banners and posters throughout the school.
  • List standards of conduct by adding the school logo or mascot to a poster with a clever acronym for expectations (ex. Mustang P.R.I.D.E.).
  • List safety tips and game rules for physical play and activities (ex. Stay Hydrated, Keep Your Hands to Yourself, Stop and Listen if You Hear a Whistle).
  • List school rules and ask students to place in order of importance using the VariQuest® Poster Maker 3600 and the VariQuest® Cutout Maker 1800.
  • Parent Reminders! Parent Posters! Parent Banners! …need we say more?


Character Education

  • Use the Poster Maker 3600 or the Perfect Plus 2400 to create student birthday posters to place on classroom doors and/or hallways.
  • Create a Student of the Week template using the Perfect Plus Design System and display in the hallway to encourage self-esteem and in celebration of peer success.


  • Use the Poster Maker 3600 to list all the names of graduating students on one continuous banner that can be rolled down the side of a building or a large wall in the gymnasium.


  • The School Library can offer visuals for use in classrooms for a small fee. Money donations can go to library programs, or be put back into the grade or program requesting the visuals.
  • Teachers can place rolls of Poster Maker and the Perfecta paper on classroom materials lists for parents. Parents and community members can also pitch in to provide each teacher with his/her own roll of paper to use.
  • Create posters of main characters in a book or historical story, and have students interact with it by writing words that describe that character. Students could even buy the poster for a small donation (25 cents) if they are a fan. Literary and historical characters are sometimes among the first people we label as heroes. The Perfecta Plus 2400 prints a 17” medium size poster perfect for this idea.
  • Allow parents to request a banner or poster. Families have lots of celebrations and happenings that could warrant the need of a banner or poster. See how this high school took the idea to the next level by creating a student-run enterprise.

Classroom Visuals

Building a School Culture Through Positive Visual Content

Students and parents need to be assured by the school’s atmosphere and overall presentation while walking around and engaging with the hallways, classrooms and common areas. What better way to engage them than with quality classroom visuals? Customized layouts of learning materials, poster-sized photographs of the school’s own smiling children & faculty, and awards that recognize exceptional students are wonderful ways to build a genuine community within the school and encourage everyone’s success.

Changing Classroom Visuals Often and Easily

If the collateral the students see around school and classrooms never change, they will eventually tune it all out. In order to create a fresh and exciting atmosphere, a school has to occasionally freshen itself up, and the only way this happens is if a school makes it easy for their staff to create new visuals.

When teachers have to provide their own visuals for their classrooms, it can either be expensive to buy or time-consuming to create. The teacher must come up with designs, find photographs and often will pay for the final product out-of-pocket. When a teacher is busy and paying for their own teaching materials and other school supplies, changing their classroom visuals can be daunting and unfeasible, economically. Finding a way to help teachers create these relevant visuals easily and affordably can provide the support and acknowledgement that what they are doing is important and worth their time.

Better Behavior and a Sense of Pride

Looking at any entity that’s trying to build a positive culture, be it a military group, a sports team or a business, you’ll see they all display their pride. They hang up quotes, mission statements and taglines for motivation, they tout the rules that they follow and the great achievements they’ve had. Schools can do the same. To promote good behavior, a school can hang it’s code of conduct in the hallways and teachers can have their own specific to their classrooms. Pictures of alumnus and mascots can promote school spirit. A mural from a street artist can provide a hip, artistic culture or maybe something black and white for a classic culture. If you want your school to have a culture, the school itself, from staff to teacher has to display it proudly.

Helping the Teacher Show, not Tell, the Students

Everyone can remember being stumped by a math problem. And why not? Math feels abstract until students can visualize it; it’s a bunch of rules and the reasoning behind them can be difficult to understand at first. When dividing two fractions, multiply the divisor by the reciprocal? Why? Shrug.

This “indifference” is how many students feel. It makes them feel less than confident . When they have visual learning tools to help show why a rule needs to be followed, however, it’s easier to remember. Instead of verbally explaining a problem to the class, a teacher can show the student with meaningful classroom visuals. If the rule is displayed on a poster in the classroom, students will continue to engage with the material until it makes sense. By creating an environment conducive to learning, a school creates a positive learning culture.

Engaging the Daydreamers With Their Eyes

80% of what we perceive is through sight. Remember when your attention wandered and you started looking around the room? Savvy, enabled teachers can use this daydreaming to their advantage with posters and cut outs about the battles being taught in History or by setting images behind poems being studied in Literature. Classroom visuals like large photographs of real situations showing us abstract concepts can help engage students.

Making People Feel Special

Between losing recess privileges, getting detention and being sent to the principal’s office, students are getting plenty of discipline, but what about positive recognition? When shiny star stickers lose their allure, professional looking plaques and awards can really make a difference. A teacher equipped with the proper tools can also create games to hang on the wall to incentivize good behavior. Imagine a poster that allows the class to move the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria closer to the U.S.A., if they did their homework and can answer the teacher’s questions that day.

The Right Tools for the Job

Teachers can’t afford to purchase their own classroom visuals, let alone turn them over as the curriculum changes throughout the year. Schools looking to improve their culture need to provide basic tools like a poster and cutout makers for their staff. Many of these tools come with their own design center and design templates that make it easy to generate professional looking visuals for the classroom, hallways, and campus in minutes.

With easy-to-construct classroom visuals, the entire school’s culture benefits. By creating interactive and engaging learning experiences using visuals, students will learn cognitively, teachers can contribute their expertise demonstratively and everyone will actually enjoy and benefit!

Visual Learning Tools

Samsung Commercial Displays

Commercial Displays Take AV Out of the Living Room and Into the Boardroom


Confused about whether to invest in commercial grade displays for your office or business? There are important differences to consider when choosing between consumer and commercial AV technologies for your business.

Commercial Displays offer:

  • Sleeker chassis than consumer displays
  • More rugged construction for high traffic areas
  • Higher brightness for commercial applications
  • More control over content displayed
  • Expanded connector options
  • And more!

Spinitar’s technology partner, Samsung, offers display solutions on both the consumer side and commercial side. We took some time to create a detailed comparison of features and capabilities to help you choose the best solution for your office, facility, or store.