Whenever I would creat a special center or activity for the classroom I would look at two aspects of the design. First, if the content was not directly connected to a topic of study, how could the skills connect to the standards I needed to achieve? Align the skills and make the connections to the lessons planned and then move to the story the activity was to tell. Essentially, this center would become a small interdisciplinary unit or a component of a larger unit.
Maker spaces do not have to be high tech areas, but they do need to be problem solving areas that result in a 'product'. For example, small teams or pairs of students can use scissors, three sheets of paper, and three paper clips to build the tallest self-supporting tower. The measurement occurs after the tower stands for a designated period of time and the results are posted on a table. The students will become competitive to reach the tallest measurement and the designs will become more creative and sturdy over time.
If the engineering design process is introduced, there are many projects such as this one with simple supplies. Building a cardboard chair with no glue, staples, or tape is another favorite. I employed these as whole class units to start the year and discovered who the emergent leaders were in the classroom. Fully recycleable when they are through.
Design, measurement, writing and presentation components need to be included in a science notebook to document the work and provide for sharing.