Room to Create

June 17, 2022





If you were asked to imagine the perfect environment for a STEM classroom, would you picture gleaming, large tables, rows of shelves for storage and neatly labeled materials?

While these things ARE very important, and we actually address them in another blog, we at Get Caught Engineering® feel that a STEM classroom is much more than organization and layout. The ideal STEM environment is more about surrounding the students with inspiration. This can be in the form of posters to validate the need for perseverance as well as inspire, as well as objects and decor used in new and different ways that may spark an idea, and pictures and books about inventions and how they work.

Hardware Store Décor

A favorite place for us to shop for organizational and decorative items for the new school year is our local hardware store. Some of our favorite ideas for using these items in your classroom are:

  • Secure peg board to your walls and attach small bins and baskets to hold materials of all types. Tape, scissors, and other tools can be suspended using hooks. Not only is everything organized but your students can see many supplies at a glance and possibly find that perfect item they need for their prototype.
  • Rain gutters make great places to display books and hold clipboards, file folders and charts.
  • Don’t overlook the many sized buckets that hardware stores sell. They are portable and great for storing just about anything. Bucket jockeys fit around the outside of the bucket and can hold the markers, scissors, tape and other tools, while the supplies for a project are inside of the bucket.
  • Large brackets can be secured to walls and informational charts can be suspended from them.
  • Lengths of chain can suspend items from the ceiling or be draped along the wall. Use clothes pins to hold student sketches or pictures of pulleys, bridges or planes – whatever the students will be working on.

Information Please

Early in a STEM program it is important to equip your students with the skills they need to build prototypes. We always take the time at the beginning of the year to teach and practice the Engineering Design Process. This is their main problem-solving structure they will use all year. Be sure to have a poster illustrating this, as well as explanations for each step. It should be placed in a prominent spot for easy access.

Talking about the materials made available, as well as different ways to use them should be a year-long activity. Teaching your students how to attach paper and other objects to each other as they build a prototype is also a must. Once you’ve taught them these basics, be sure to include posters that show:

Basic folds for paper engineering pic

Examples of different ways to attach objects to each other pic

Words to Inspire

A STEM classroom is definitely a place where students struggle with meaty problems. It is also a place where they regularly fail on their way to the solution. It is easy to get discouraged!

We love to surround our students with pictures and posters of people who have had to persevere in order to succeed. Although there are literally thousands of places to purchase these posters, the companies below offer free posters for your classroom:


Getting our classroom ready for each new school year filled us with excitement. What we put on our walls and bulletin boards were more than just decorations. Rather they set the tone for our year and created an environment that would nurture our students’ creativity and learning all year.

Wendy And Cheryl

What They Say


Wendy came to Bellevue Arts Museum to co-lead our Full STEAM Ahead! Summer Camp in August 2014. This camp was a huge success thanks to her expertise, experience, and warmth working with the campers throughout the week…

Educational Outreach Director, The Bellevue Art Museum, Bellevue, Washington