Laser Cut Calculator Organizer for Teachers

About: It's probably science. I have 10 years experience as a public school teacher. I make stuff. Cheers!

I created a numbered calculator organizer for my classroom using small bins from a dollar store, 1/4 inch plywood, some glue, and a laser cutter.


Originally I was planning to glue Popsicle sticks together to create a space for each calculator. When I got access to a laser cutter, my idea got a huge upgrade. If you don't have a laser cutter, look into FabLab or Hackerspace to see if there is one in your area! They are a do-it-yourself dream come true. Some crafty workshops also offer laser cutter services.

Supplies:

Materials:

  • 1/4 inch plywood (about 36 x 12 inches in total material)
  • Glue (I used hot glue, but should have used something more like E6000.)
  • Square or Rectangular Storage Bin(s) with Straight, Flat Sides (about 8.5 x 7.5 inches)

Tools:

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Step 1: Create Your Design File.

I measured my bins and created the attached designs using Inkscape. Inkscape is free, open source, and has tons of tutorials for creating laser cutting files. The process I used in Inkscape is very similar to the one shared in this guide by the Scot Ackerman MakerSpace at Tulane University.

The three .svg files I attached each have 10 cut-outs to fit 10 calculators. The spaces are also progressively numbered 1-30 with laser cutter etching. Because the .svg files do not render, I also attached an example image so you can see what the .svg file looks like when opened in Inkscape (or a similar program).

If you are creating your own calculator organizer using this guide, it is very likely that your bins are not the same exact size as the bins I used, so you'll have to tweak the sizes to fit your bins. This means you will have to change the size of outermost rectangular object in the file to your needed dimensions and the support bars accordingly. Make sure to change the drop down bar in Inkscape so you are working with a measurement like inches or millimeters.

The calculators I stored were Texas Instruments Ti-84 Plus Graphing Calculators. The size is pretty standard for most TI calculators, so the size I used for the calculator openings (about 3.7 x 1.2 inches) will likely fit your needs. However, check your measurements and adjust this too if needed.

The color code system setup for the laser cutter I used cuts anything in red all the way through the wood and anything in blue only etches the surface. Be sure this color code system works with your laser cutter, otherwise change this as needed as well.

Step 2: Use the Laser Cutter to Cut Your Design.

Here is an instructable for operating epilog laser cutters, like the one I used.

I output the .svg files in Inkscape to .pdf files. This was as simple as going to file --> save as --> and selecting "Portable Document Format (".pdf") within Inkscape. These .pdf files were used by the laser cutter to cut the final designs.

Step 3: Assemble Your Organizer.

The larger piece of cut out wood sits on top of my organizer bin. The long skinny pieces are glued underneath the larger piece to create a frame so the top doesn’t wiggle around or fall off. I originally used hot glue to attach this piece, but it came loose over time (I used this in my classroom since 2014!). I really should adhere it to the bins using a better glue, like E6000.

Step 4: Use It in Your Classroom!

I numbered each space from 1-30 because I use a similar numbering system in my classroom (every student has their own number). Since taking the pictures shown here, I’ve also added 1-30 labels on to the top of each calculator using my label maker. It has stood the test of time and has been used in my classroom for years!

Classroom Organization Challenge

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Classroom Organization Challenge

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