Outfitting your school with STEM supplies and programming can be a daunting task, especially if you’re new to the process or have budget constraints. Whether you’re looking to outfit elementary classrooms with basic STEM or STEAM (STEM plus the arts) project supplies or thinking bigger picture with toys, activities, and technology, check out our list of STEM supplies and products to get your school going.
Low-Cost and No-Cost STEM Supplies
If you don’t have much of a STEM supply budget, just think outside the box to fill your STEM boxes! One of the easiest areas to save money on STEM supplies is on construction materials. We love these “STEM bin ideas” where you really have to go no further than Staples Business Advantage to fill ‘er up. You can theme them out seasonally or per project. Parents are also great resources for sending in recyclables or extras they may have on hand. Before you know it, you have perfect STEM sets for student table groups, and the possibilities are endless! Some starter ideas:
- Cardboard boxes and tubes
- Plastic bottles and caps
- String, rubber bands
- Popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners
- Aluminum foil and bottle caps
- Masking tape or painter’s tape for marking testing areas on desks and the floor
- Marbles and ping-pong balls to teach elasticity. Also, students can create their own bouncy balls!
- Old CDs
- Battery-operated tea lights or glow sticks
- Composition notebooks for scientific journaling
- Don’t forget your STEM supply organizers! They’re key to keeping all of this STEM creativity contained and every student tidy!
Toys, Books, and STEM Activity Sets
It’s a no-brainer: There’s nothing quite like the magic of toys to bring a classroom to life. STEM-themed activity sets, cards, and toys are no exception; nor is a stacked STEM-focused library! Here are a few ideas that will get your STEM party started and enhance science, tech, engineering, and math skills at the same time. The kids won’t even know how much they’re learning!
- Basic coding games for beginners are a great introduction to coding and problem solving.
- Robot bundles with creative kits for fundamental coding skills are always a hit. Many come with leveled activities, perfect if your students might need different experiences with coding.
- Simple machine sets that include items like level boards, wedges, pulleys with ropes, hooks, wheels, and weights provide multiple experimenting opportunities. It’s especially awesome when they come with activiy cards to get students going!
- Some of the best STEM toys may already be within your stacked organizer reach (or again, through the magic of parent donation). Magnetic tiles, marble runs, and snap circuit toys are excellent tools for studying (and playing with!) the main principles of structure, creativity, and electricity.
- STEM book bundles (teacher created!) for your classroom library or makerspace, bringing focus to your unit of STEM study and encouraging more STEM growth mindset.
STEM and STEAM Programming
School leaders from our Principal Life Facebook group were super geeked to recommend what’s working for them for school STEM programming! Dedicate space for kids to spread out and try things. Flexible seating and tables help.
- ST Math, from the Mind Research Institute, is an online visual instruction K–6 program for math concepts, puzzles, and problem solving. School administrators are offered a 60-day free trial.
- Project Lead the Way offers computer science, engineering, and biomedical science curriculum, materials, and online resources aligned to specific K–12 grades. It’s a hit with principals in our group for its “teacher-friendly” qualities and abundant “training and resources.”
- Engineering is Elementary, from the Museum of Science, Boston, focuses on both in-school and after-school STEM curriculum products. Hands-on, project-based activities are modeled for different grade groupings, from kindergarten through 5th grade, with after-school curriculum product through 8th grade.
- Level Up Village (LUV) connects the world through the love of STEAM! LUV offers courses for students in K–9. Schools connect with students doing the same curriculum in other countries through video letters, so they can collaborate on projects. Talk about a global classroom!
Your STEM Road Map
You’re now ready to outfit your classroom. What’s next? Go the extra mile, and get STEM-certified from STEM.org! You’ll access over 1000 pages of K-12 STEM lessons, gain insight into the latest trends in STEM, learn how to reduce programming costs and so much more!
What would you add to your STEM supply list for your school? Follow School Leaders Now on Facebook and join our group Principal Life for more conversations about and insights into the challenges of school leadership.