I’ve been compiling this list for a little while. Please feel free to add to it.
First, you can always make stuff with string and duct tape, using sites like the Exploratorium Science Snacks.
But, if you need money:
Donors Choose. This program connects potential donors to classrooms. As a teacher, you indicate your needs, and try to get the word out there. Hint — if you manage to get picked up by a major blogger, you’ll probably get funded!
Classwish. Connect with local businesses and organizations to fill the needs of your classroom.
NSTA’s newsletter has a wonderful list of places where teachers can get grants for school supplies in their newsletter, but I can’t seem to find it online.
Free money and supplies for your classroom. From Free Tech for Teachers, a list of 10 places to get money for classroom supplies. NSTA also has a great list of grants in their newsletter, but I can’t seem to find them online.
Vernier has a great list of groups that provide grants to teachers. You can even see which are expiring soon, and sort by different types of grants.
Zeke Kossover, a teacher in the San Francisco area, looked through that list and sent this description of some of his top picks to a listserv that I’m on:
If you teach in public school, you might find PG&E’s grants interesting. Unfortunately you have just missed the fall deadline, but the spring one is still available.
Target has several grants out there. The field trip grant is probably the best known.
Computer grants from Toshiba
Most of the professional societies have grants, although the amounts are relatively small, except for the Toyota Tapestry through the National Science Teachers Association which can be up to $10,000. These are very competitive.
Lowes has several programs for public schools. The Tool Box Grant seems especially interesting. The awards are between $2000 and $5000.
The Air Force has smaller $250 grants, but they don’t seem that hard to get.
I’m not sure if the EPA is going to do its grant program again. The Feds often decide to do stuff with short deadlines, so it helps to watch their sites. It’s a cool program.
And if you need materials…
Of course, don’t forget Freecycle, and CraigsList. Teachers have had luck posting “wanted” listings on these services. Goodwill and other thrift stores are gold mines. You might also want to check at local universities. Retiring professors sometimes need to get rid of an entire lab’s worth of equipment, and some can be useful.
For cheap commercial suppliers, try (courtesy of Zeke):
- Cynmar. Very cheap, but read the listings carefully.i
- Kelvin also has good prices.
- Pitsco and Pasco aren’t cheap, but have good return policies.
- Arbor Scientific has great stuff, but I’m not sure how their prices compare.
- Vernier has great customer support.
- Flinn is good for chemicals, but only ship to schools. However, they also don’t add a hazardous postal fee onto your order. United Nuclear is more expensive, but will sell to anyone.
- Electronic Goldmine and Marlin P. Jones have excellently cheap electronics
- Harbor Freight Tools also has really cheap tools and electronic balances.
For those in the Bay Area, Zeke again shared some useful resources:
For chemistry/biology/biotech it is hard to beat Bio-Link Depot, a consortium that distributes biotech and biology supplies from biotech firms for the low price of free. They have periodic open houses.
SCRAP sometimes has science useful stuff. Sometimes not.
Weird Stuff down on the Peninsula has all sorts of electronic
spare parts and equipment. If you need power supplies for the lab, they have all the computer components you need to tear apart to make the greatest lab supplies ever.
6th Avenue Aquarium on Clement Street in SF seems to have the cheapest aquarium supplies that I’ve seen. Near there is the excellent Kamei Restaurant Supply. They have plastic cafeteria trays for a couple of bucks each and a lifetime supply of paper inserts. These are excellent for organizing labs. Put the equipment down on the paper on the tray. Draw a line around the items. Now at a glance you can
see if you’ve gotten everything back. They also have cheap ($3 each) but razor sharp Kiwi knives. They are far sharper than the lousy scalpels used in dissections and can be resharpened.