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26 Projects to Jump-start Your Makerspace

Inspire students of all ages to enjoy STEM when you let them loose in a creative makerspace! These hands-on engineering activities use simple materials and encourage students to brainstorm, problem solve, and innovate.

Makerspace STEM activities, including pantograph, mini catapult, balloon car, propeller car, Rube Goldberg Machine, cardboard automata, and more

Enabling Exploration

Community makerspaces are collaborative spaces where people of all ages can get hands-on with science and engineering. With an array of materials available, a visit to a local makerspace is an invitation to play with science and engineering and really see how things work.

You may have a makerspace in your school or at the library, or maybe you have an area of your classroom dedicated to maker activities students can explore or certain days of the week on which you turn the room into a makerspace. With a few materials and a surface to work on, garage or basement spaces can easily be recast as home makerspaces, too!

You don't have to have expensive materials to start up your own makerspace. With an assortment of craft supplies, electronics parts, and recycled materials, you can set up a makerspace full of inspiring STEM that kids can explore. Figuring out what will work with the materials available is part of the challenge and part of the fun!

Bookmark or pin these projects to add to your makerspace!

Update! This post has been updated for 2022!

Free Projects and Activities for Your Makerspace

Try one of these STEM projects for creative hands-on science and engineering with a DIY "maker" flair:

  1. Make Cardboard Automata: Plan and build an automaton from cardboard and craft materials.
  2. Build a Wind-Powered Car: Add a sail to a DIY toy car and experiment to see how changes to the sail make a difference in the car's stability and speed.
  3. Build a Differential from K'Nex®: Use the K'Nex® toy building system to build a model differential.
  4. Build A Wall Marble Run: Use cardboard tubes and other simple materials to build a wall marble run.
  5. Make an Awesome Paper Lantern: Design and make a paper lantern that holds a battery-operated tealight candle or uses a night light circuit.
  6. Flippy, the Dancing Robot: Build a simple dancing robot and use the engineering design process to improve it.
  7. Build a Paper Roller Coaster: Build a paper roller coaster and try to add a loop.
  8. 3D Print with Sand: No 3D Printer Required!: Use sand and glue to simulate one type of 3D printing.
  9. DIY Mini Propeller Car: Make a small toy car with a simple circuit and a propeller.
  10. Build a Robot Hand: Use craft materials to design and build a robotic hand.
  11. Build a Mini Trebuchet: Use craft sticks, rubber bands, and other craft materials to make and explore the physics behind a miniature trebuchet.
  12. DIY Light Up Unicorn Headband: Make a unicorn horn headband with a paper circuit that lights an LED at the tip.
  13. Build a Rubber Band-Powered Car: Build a car with an axle made from straws and rubber bands that store potential energy when wound.
  14. Build a Popsicle Stick Catapult: Make a small catapult from craft sticks and rubber bands.
  15. Duplicate Your Drawings with a Machine: Make and experiment with a pantograph, a device that can be used to make a larger or smaller copy of a drawing.
  16. Make a Paper Circuit: Learn how to make simple circuits from paper, copper tape (or aluminum foil), and a battery. (See Paper Circuits Science Projects for additional ways to explore.)
  17. Make a Cotton Ball Launcher: Use a recycled cardboard tube to make a launcher that can launch lightweight materials.
  18. The Impossible Arrow Illusion: 3D print and explore the "impossible arrow" illusion — the arrow's reflection in a mirror always points the other way!
  19. Make Your Own Harmonica!: Explore how a harmonica creates sound waves by making a small one from wooden sticks, rubber bands, and a straw.
  20. DIY Mini Drone: Make a basic mini drone. (Add additional parts to explore a series of questions related to drone flight.)
  21. Build a Balloon Car: Use a balloon to power a homemade toy car.
  22. Study Kinetic Energy with a Rube Goldberg Machine: Use assorted materials to create a set of chain reactions in a machine designed to perform a simple task.
  23. Build a Cardboard Scissor Lift: Use craft materials to make a scissor lift and explore simple machines.
  24. Junkbots: Robots from Recycled Materials: Design and build simple robots made from recycled and craft materials.
  25. Build a Paper Speaker: Make a working speaker from paper and neodymium magnets.
  26. Make a Night-Light: Build a working night-light with an intermediate circuit project and design the custom housing, too!

Makerspace Learning in Action

The following STEM videos demonstrate some of the highlighted activities:

Make Cardboard Automata
Build a Wind-Powered Car
Build a K'Nex® Differential
Build A Wall Marble Run!
Paper Roller Coasters - Fun STEM Activity!
3D Printing with Sand and Glue (no 3D printer required!)
DIY Mini Propeller Car
Build a Mini Trebuchet
Popsicle Stick Catapult
Draw with a Pantograph - STEM Activity
How to Make Paper Circuits
Cotton Ball Launcher - Fun STEM Activity
DIY Mini Drone Part 1: Build Your Drone
Make a Balloon Car
How To Build a Rube Goldberg Machine
Make an LED Night-Light
Make a Paper Lantern STEM Activity
DIY Light Up Unicorn Headband
The Impossible Arrow Illusion

Ready for More Makerspace Ideas?

See 16 Next-Level Makerspace STEM Projects for projects and activities to help scale your makerspace for students ready for additional challenge.

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