There's no getting around the fact that organization in a makerspace is key for keeping your sanity in tact. Making involves a lot of tools and materials, and having a home for it all is a priority especially if you have a class of 25 who need to clean up fast before the bell rings. This is where a maker cart is essential. Not only will it organize your tools and materials, but makes clean up a breeze. With the simple addition of wheels, they can also go anywhere in the space or any classroom if they are shared by multiple teachers.
The reason why I love them so much is because you can customize them depending on your situation. They can also grow along side your makerspace. You can also have multiple carts; each fulfilling a specific need. The following are 4 different types of maker carts that can be helpful in any makerspace. They can be mixed together or adapted to fit your specific needs.
THE PROTOTYPING CART
Prototyping is key in designing. A cart that offers students materials that they can choose from is part of the problem solving process. These materials can include cardboard, card stock, paper, cardboard tubes, binder clips, tape, glue, and even some recyclable materials. Tools can also be added to make it a one stop shop prototyping cart. Cutting tools like scissors, utility knives, snips, and Xactos should be included as part of this cart. By giving students the opportunity to choose their materials, you are letting them begin the problem solving aspect of prototyping. They need to accurately make their design come to life, so the materials they choose will force them to think critically. Again, as with all carts, the materials and tools it holds is depended on your needs and the types of builds your students do.
THE MATERIALS CART
A materials cart holds the materials you often use depending on the kind of builds your students most often make. These can range from craft materials to electronics. Unlike a prototyping cart, this cart holds all necessary materials and tools for finished products. The kind of materials depends on you. This cart has a way of growing as you gain more materials and expand the types of builds. For example, a friend of mine does robotics with his class, so his cart consists of bins brimming with robotics parts. Lately though he has been making unique lamps from odds and ends, so now he has started a second cart for these parts.
THE TOOLS CART
A tools cart is exactly what it's name implies. These tools can range from crafting tools to wood working. The bin size for this cart depends on the size of tools and how many you have of each. These carts are especially good for small areas with limited wall space where a peg board is just not possible. You also have the ability to quickly put bins with dangerous tools away from students when needed. Many makers include bins for nails, nuts, and screws on these carts. These bins will be smaller but will still hold a lot in an organized and easily accessible way. You can also add hooks on the side of the cart to hold levels and oversized rulers.
THE RECYCLING CART
This is my very favorite! I love free materials and you can't get more free that recyclables. Recyclables can get messy and this is one way of keeping ahead of the madness. I'm fortunate to have shelf space for recyclables, but for someone who doesn't, it will definitely do the trick. Large bins will mostly be used here. They can hold water bottles, styrofoam, PVC pipe sections, and odds and ends. The types of materials in this cart is always changing depending on what is coming in or donated. Since nothing in this cart can be considered "precious" it is always free for the taking and therefore creativity is always open for everyone!
TYPES OF CARTS
There are many types of carts, ranging from $50 to several thousands. For my experience, the cheaper the better, but of course the types of materials and tools on them is as much your choice as the cart itself depending on your needs. There are a lot of them on the market. Height and size is a big consideration. For those looking to get one, I would first outline your needs and budget.
Here are some examples that be used for make carts:
This is my favorite from Home Depot. It's only $50 and the optional wheels are $20. I also bought the bins there as well.