ASK AN EDUCATOR – “Where can I find materials for my projects?”

Anonymous asks:

Hey am a 14 in Ms teenage boy am interested in make ing i love soldering/electronics i read make mag and assort ed blog my parents are not really completely understanding as far as material s needed or tools i don’t want to come off as a yerk or something is there any way to get materials for cheap maybe youth edu tools idk i live in Seattle WA do u know of youth club s in the nw similar to a hacker space but more teen friendly with less 40 year old men hang ing over there computer s and that my parents would feel ok letting me me there alone

Ps. I love Ur teaching method making Ur own classes i love science and math but it seems as if most science is the opposite from educational or interesting thankfully there is the internet

Interesting question! This happens to be a hot topic for us in the school system as we try to get the most for our money, especially when buying materials.

**UPDATE** Henning suggested the following video from Adam Savage discussing “Where to Find Stuff” Thanks, BTW!:

Here are some resources we use:

The “usual suspects”:

Mouser  / DigiKey – global catalog and online semiconductor and electronic component distributors.

  • These are our most popular electronic component distributors. Make sure you pay attention to qty. discounts as often it is cheaper to buy more of something rather then the qty. you need.

MSC – Has over 500,000 items ready to ship same day.

  • We use these guys for all of our hardware, acrylic, tools, consumables, etc. as they give the school system a pretty decent discount.

Michaels / ACMoore – Are a specialty retailers that offering a vast selection of arts, crafts and floral merchandise to a broad demographic of customers.

  • I use these guys to by 1/8″ sheets of birch veneer plywood for my projects as you can always find a 50% off coupon online of in the mail
The “not-so usual suspects”: – Has thousands of electronic and electro-mechanical parts and supplies at discounted prices.

  • These guys are great as they sell “pre-owned” and surplus stuff for cheap. – Provides a wide variety of activities at a good price. Every year, KELVIN® strives to provide new and innovative products for technology education, science, robotics, electronics and pre- engineering designed to assist educators in enriching curriculum and motivating students through quality hands-on activities.

  • I buy most of my balsa, kits and classroom supplies from these guys. – Is a premier art supply source for professional artists, students, and teachers, and continues to be a family-owned business.

  • I buy tissue paper from here as they sell a monster pack for pretty cheap.

This is just a smattering of our resources. Below I have attached the form I use with my students for soliciting donations/discounts. When you are ready to purchase materials for you projects and they are justifiably for a school project, follow the form and see what happens!

Industry Contact Form

I hope this has helped with your search and yes, thankfully there is the internet!

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  1. Check this video (Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project #8 – Where to Find Stuff):


  2. Those are some good online resources. I wanted to add some other options. Realizing this kid might have serious limitations on cash, there are often ways to scrounge up parts.
    Craigslist is a great resources for old electronics and toys. I often check the ‘Free’ listing and am surprised at what people give away. You can find lots of useful parts for robotics, electronics and craft projects from old stuff.
    Garage sales are another good source. Also check out and find a local group.
    Good luck!

  3. Someone made a comment on another board that made a lot of sense to me. He said to make up a plan. If you have defined goals, you will know what you need and what you don’t need. In this way, you will be more efficient because you will be less likely to get something you don’t need.

    They can also get cheap parts off of ebay. That is where some resellers get their parts.

    They should make friends with people in this hobby. There are people with extra microcontrollers floating around that they might not want or need. There are people with unfinished projects because the person lost interest.

    Another method is to sell your program or plan to others through a teaching method because I’m sure there is someone somewhere who wants to learn. Even college courses at the community college level are something like $500 a course so to find someone willing to teach something is a bargain.

    The company I work for has a warehouse full of products we can’t sell anymore even though they were still worth a lot of money. We just rented a dumpster to throw a lot of it out and we also gave some of the stuff away. It is possible there are other companies like us.

    Look for promotions. I bought several promotions. One was $10 and another was $4.30 with free shipping. There are some companies that give free samples and there are other companies that you can dialog with.

    I myself might donate if I knew it was going to the right place and that I wasn’t just being taken advantage of or that the products weren’t just going into someone’s pocket who could afford a microcontroller.

  4. The "Still Untitled" video/podcast rocks! Some solid common sense tips if you’re just getting started. Biggest take away – don’t be afraid to ask anybody for anything!

  5. Just go around the neighborhood and pick up electronic junk and whatever else gets put out, or ask your neighbors for their cast-offs. Post on Freecycle or CL for specific things. Go to the Goodwill (or similar) and ask for dead and useless stuff they will not sell. Printers, copiers, audio equipment, even mechanical things — most anything will have lots of great parts and components inside that can be hacked or repurposed. He will need some minimal tools and some other stuff to buy, but if he can demonstrate to his parents and teachers that he has things in mind, no one will turn him down!

    If this sounds like I know of which I speak….

  6. I’ve found that eBay is good for very common components (LEDs, resistors, caps). Can get them in large kits for very cheap. Veroboard 10 for 2 bucks also. But certainly for specific ICs and things like that, Mouser and Digi-key are great. (I have found the occasional case where Newark/Farnell is cheaper too.)

  7. my town occasionally has an electronics/metal waste pick up, you can go out and walk around the night before the pick up and usually find some stuff on the curb people don’t want

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