Thursday, July 08, 2004

Resource Area for Teachers

On Tuesday, we took a field trip to RAFT: Resource Area for Teachers (http://www.raft.net). RAFT is a warehouse full of supplies donated by companies. Teachers come from all over the Bay Area and purchase bags of supplies for their classrooms. They have different sections - the $10 per shopping bag area, the $5 per shopping bag area, and the $1 per shopping bag area. Other stuff is priced per item, but it's all very, very cheap. You can get computer parts and software, office supplies, furniture, scrap cloth and foam and other materials, old cd boxes, medical supplies like pipets, you name it. They also purchase some fancier stuff wholesale and resell it, like greater-than-six sided dice, UV beads, superstrong magnets, etc. Their creative staff finds educational uses for the materials that they get, and publishes idea sheets to show teachers what they can use the stuff for in their classrooms. And they offer workshops for teachers, workspace and tools to put stuff together, and even prepared kits. I bought a spectroscope kit with enough materials for a whole class - for $1.50! I also bought a lot of other junk, mailed it to my school, and although shipping cost a lot, I think it was worth it.

NYC has a similar type of organization called Materials for the Arts (http://www.mfta.org/home.php) but they primarily serve artists and art teachers. RAFT is nice because they serve all educators and have a science focus in addition to arts and other subjects.

I got this idea: maybe I should start something like RAFT for NYC science teachers. I envision a resource library, kits for sale or even to borrow, workshops, and, of course, a large space full of donated stuff which teachers could purchase. It would be a big project, but it's something I'm going to consider doing in the next five years or so.

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