Whiteboards are great learning tools in a science classroom. Not only do students love to write on them, but they also allow for quick formative assessments, and they make collaboration convenient.
Additionally, whiteboarding may support the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), particularly when it comes to using models. Scientific Modelling, an integral component of the NGSS, includes the use of diagrams, physical replicas, mathematical representations, analogies, and computer simulations to represent complex systems. By their nature, models are tentative because as students gather more knowledge, they can be refined. Whiteboards are an excellent resource for developing scientific models since students can easily draw diagrams, analyze data, and rearrange equations as they explore scientific phenomena.1,2
Unfortunately, whiteboards can be expensive. I have seen costs of $10 - $20 for a single whiteboard. At this price, a class set could cost a couple of hundred of dollars.
However, with these instructions, you can make eight 24-in x 24-in whiteboards for less than $2.00 each! As a bonus, I have included instructions for simple whiteboard stands, which will cost an additional $1.86 for each stand.
Step 1 - Purchase a 4-ft x 8-ft sheet of Smooth White Hardboard
Figure 1: Sheets of smooth white hardboard
The whiteboards are cut from a 4-ft x 8-ft sheet of Smooth White Hardboard (figure 1). You can find this material in your local home improvement store. It should be located in the lumber area of the store. I purchased a sheet for $14.48 which is enough to make eight 24-in x 24-in whiteboards.
Step 2 - Cut the sheet of hardboard to size
Figure 2: Cutting area
A 2-ft x 2-ft whiteboard is a nice size for group work. Plus, the material is pretty heavy, and I’ve found that any larger with this material is pretty cumbersome.
The major hardware stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot will cut the sheet for free. Just ring the bell on the side of the saw area (figure 2), and someone will assist you in short time.
Step 3 - Sand the edges
Figure 3: Sanding the edges
After the board is cut, the edges are pretty rough. It only took me about 10 minutes to smooth them out with some fine grit sandpaper (figure 3).
The Base (Bonus!)
Step 1 - Buy and cut a 2 x 8 x 16 pine board
Figure 4: Pine lumber
Next, I purchased a 2-in x 8-in x 16-ft board for the bases (figure 4). Once again, you can get it cut to size at the store. I had it cut into eight 2-ft sections.
Step 2 - Cut a slot down the middle
Figure 5: Adjusting the depth
You will need to take care of cutting the slot on your own. I set the cutting depth on my circular saw to about an inch (figure 5) and cut right through the middle (figure 6). The whiteboard didn’t quite fit in the slot, so I had to run through the middle a second time to widen it up.
Figure 6: The slot down the middle needs to be wide enough for whiteboard to fit.
Step 3 - Sand the edges
As with the whiteboards, the edges will need sanding (figure 7). These pieces took a lot longer, so you may want to enlist some students to help.
Figure 7: Sanding the board
Finally, you can assemble them by placing one whiteboard in each stand (figure 8).
Figure 8: Whiteboard and stand
I hope your new class set of whiteboards supports learning and collaboration in your classroom. I would love some tips on whiteboarding in the science classroom, so leave a comment and let me know how you use them in your courses.
DIY whiteboard construction isn't new, and teachers have been sharing instructions for some time. I was introduced to the idea by Lynnelle Buchanan, who presented at the Michigan Science Teachers Association Conference 2019 (Scientific Modelling).
1. Hestenes, D. (2013). Remodeling Science Education. European Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 1(1), 13-22.
2. NGSS Lead States. 2013. Next Generation Science Standards: For States, By States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.