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Exploratory Learning: Purchasing Tips

This guide features information on Library MakerSpaces designed to promote creativity, curiosity, discovery and innovation.

Introduction

This page is designed to assist librarians in purchasing items for their maker/exploratory spaces. Items will be organized under categories to assist in building a balanced collection of materials, although they may often be used to meet a variety of learning outcomes. Links will be provided to an approved vendor, but does not imply a sole source for this item. All materials listed below have been utilized with students, or vetted before being added to the list. 

Questions to Consider:

  • Where will you store supplies? Will students have free access, or will you bring out selected supplies for them?
  • How will you structure the time/space?
  • How many students will be working at one time?
  • Will you have multiple activities simultaneously? Or all students working on similar tasks?
  • What consumable items could you ask for donations from your staff/students/families?

Tips:

  • When ordering through a vendor, such as Demco, it's advisable to call for a quote. Prices will usually be cheaper than what is quoted in magazines or online. Let companies know that you are with NEISD and ask for the quote to be emailed to you.
  • Open boxes and test items immediately. Check that items are correct, complete and working (charging). It's much more difficult to get assistance if an item has been sitting in a box for months. 
  • Retain copies of invoices and packing slips in case you need proof of purchase for damaged or non-working items.  
  • For issues with items, work with the vendor first, but also contact the original seller of the item.  
    • ​For example: A Dash robot bought on Amazon. You would initially work with Amazon, but you may want to go back to Wonder Workshop if you can not get satisfaction from Amazon.

Robots/Technology

Product (hyperlinked to vendor) Recom. Age

Price (vary)

Wonder Workshop Dash Robot - multiple level apps - finger trace, control pad, and programming with blockly ES $150
Ozobot - Program with colors/markers, or app (Blockly) ES/MS/HS $80
Sphero SPRK  - multiple apps for programming  ES/MS/HS $130
Sphero - multiple apps for programming  ES/MS/HS $130
Ollie - app controlled ES/MS $100
Cubelets - design your own robots, best with more cubes (20 for $500) ES/MS/HS $160 for 6 cubes
Lego Mindstorm Ev3 Core Set (used in ES robotics clubs) ES/MS/HS $500
meeperBOT 2.0 - remote control vehicles built with Lego-type bricks and controlled by ipad (not tested in NEISD yet) ES/MS $50

 

Circuits & Electricity/Science

Product Recom. Age Price (vary)
Snap Circuits - huge variety of kits ES/MS/HS $15-100
Little Bits - variety of kits upper ES/MS/HS $75-250+
Makey Makey - must connect to a computer upper ES/MS/HS $50-60
Squishy Circuits - requires you make special conductive dough (or buy deluxe kit) - can get messy ES/MS $25-60
Chibi Lights LED Circuit Stickers - cell batteries needed MS/HS $30
Tesla LIght Up kits -  MS/HS $85

Building Supplies/Engineering

Product Recom. Age Price (vary)
Lego - multiple sets available from Amazon, SAPB (local vendor puts together custom sets) ES/MS/HS vary
Kid K'Nex -soft pieces, easy to connect, multiple sets available Also available through Demco Primary ES $20-75
K'Nex kits - multiple kits available from various vendors ES/MS $20-500
Keva Planks - teach balance, leverage, geometry, & physics ES/MS/HS $40-150
Magnatiles - patterning, 2D/3D shapes, building, creativity ES/MS $25-130
Makedo - Cardboard construction also available from Demco ES/MS/HS $12.50 per kit
Goobi magnetic building kit - multiple kits available ES/MS $40 on up
Straws & Connectors - multiple sets available ES/MS $15 on up
Motorized spinning gears ES $10 on up
IO Blocks - Innovative, augmented-reality IO Blocks® App acts as a virtual build guide ES/MS $15 on up
Strawbees - connectors that work with both straws and cardboard ES/MS kits vary

 

Art

Duck tape projects

Origami

Spirograph

Embossing - MS/HS

Knitting looms (one example linked, others available)- ES/MS

 

Coding, Programming & Computer Design/Technology

Mathematics

Product Recom. Age Price (vary)
Magnatiles - 2D/3D shapes, patterns ES/MS $25-130
Bloxels - design your own video game, play on free app ES/MS/HS $30
Osmo - various kits (coding, tangrams, numbers, words, creativity), must pair with iPad. Tangible Play is now an approved vendor, so you may purchase extra bases/reflectors. ES $30-100

 

Mazes

Product Recom. Age Price (vary)
Laser Maze logic game MS/HS $20-25
Circuit Maze ES/MS $20-25
Marble Runs ES/MS $15-50
Q-BA Maze - scaffolding, ramps, paths, basic physics ES/MS/HS $30-180
Gravity Maze - falling marble logic, comes with challenge cards ES/MS $25

Quadrilla Wooden Marble Run

ES/MS $40-135

Lego-style marble run

Hubelino brand

ES $30-100
Create-a-Maze ES $15

Misc

VR glasses - $15-80

Merge VR goggles - $50

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