Funding a makerspace is challenging. Figuring out how to fund a makerspace, in a sustainable way, even more so. I’m not gonna lie. There aren’t easy solutions for this. You can write grants, crowdsource, have book fairs, bake sales, maybe you are even lucky enough to have annual funding through your school or library.
But what if you could get the kids to do it?
At the heart of makerspace are the building blocks of engineering and industry. We call it STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) and it lends itself nicely to this model. What better way to utilize a makerspace than by giving students the actual real-world experience of taking their design from idea – to production?
One way that this could be done is by developing a makerspace entrepreneurial class, where the objective of the class is to create something that other students in the school, and people in your community, want to buy. Students in this class would design something, create prototypes, market and produce it. They could work in teams; each student could be primarily responsible for one or two (depending upon the size of the group) roles. The roles could be design, production, marketing, social media, finance, (or some other similar iteration). Students would then actually sell the product, as a fundraiser for the makerspace.
The objects that they make could be sold at a physical or online school store, a local Farmers Market or even an Etsy store. They could also follow up at the end to figure out what their profit margins are, and determine if they could streamline or change anything in order to lower production costs. This would be a great way to develop partnerships with local businesses, too. Students could consult with these businesses to learn about how production is done on a larger scale, and what they could adopt for their own projects. They could also make some great connections…and maybe that could lead to a career some day.
Self-funding your makerspace in this way is a powerful idea that would teach your students a whole lot of real-world skills. It’s certainly something to consider.