Up-Cycling for Maker Spaces

What if firms who have excess material could get it to schools that could use it?

MIAD Pallet Party

During our first year of  Collab Labs, we heard that one barrier to more widespread use of makerspaces within schools is the cost of materials for student projects. In the spring of 2017, in partnership with the makers from the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, we sponsored an entrepreneurial challenge through The Commons to look for an up-cycling model that could work for Milwaukee area schools.

Our student team came up with the idea of a “maker box”, think CSA farm box for parts– on a regular basis, educators would receive a curated box of up-cycled material that could be used for student projects.  The content would vary month to month, so every box would offer a new challenge.

Over the summer and into the fall of 2017 we tested ideas for what could go in the box and how to source materials. At the beginning of September, MIAD hosted an event for us where we assembled a small group of teachers and students to sift through a palette full of material from Goodwill’s E-Cycling program. We took apart typewriters, printers, phones, DVD players and sewing machines in the hunt for useful parts. We’ve done subsequent tear down activities with middle and elementary school students with SHARP Literacy and COA Youth and Family Centers.

We continue our work to pull together a network of schools and community partners to expand the volume of material available to schools. We look to build on the relationships schools already have with area firms and at the same time create opportunities to introduce students to inventory and supply chain management concepts.

If you are interested in participating in our Up-Cycling network as a school or donor of materials, are interested in doing a tear-down activity at your school, or are just looking for materials for a project, let us know.