Vortex Cannon

Vortex Picture1
There may not be many practical reasons to create a cardboard box that shoots rings of dust or fog, except it is F-U-N.

The vortex cannon creates spinning rings of liquid or gas, also known as toroid vortices, and shoots them across the room.  (These are sometimes commonly known as “smoke rings.”)  All you need is a large box, a compass (or you can make your own), scissors, smoke, fog or dust for the rings and about 20-30 minutes, and you’ll be in business!

And it’s not everyday you can make a cannon without threat of injury or pretty major destruction – but one that has enough power to knock over a pyramid of styrofoam cups (as you can see in this video from the URN Science Show).

Download the instructions here:  Vortex Cannon DLC FINAL 2

If you like this project, you can graduate up to more elaborate versions with an adult’s help.

Cardboard Canoe

Can you build a canoe out of cardboard and tape that could really float your weight?

You can! All you need is simple materials you have at home like cardboard duct tape and …. the formula for displacement so your canoe is bouyant. That means your canoe has to be big enough to push away (displace) the right amount of water so you float (are bouyant).

Design Challenge: We gave 2 maker teams all they needed to design and build their own cardboard canoes to float in the 53′ water table at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. The results were super creative – and we learned how to build a canoe that would really work! Special thanks to our adventurous makers Kristin, Marie, Dave and Christian.

Do It Yourself: Of course, this is The MAKESHOP Show: we want YOU to make it yourself at home. Below are all the instructions you’ll need to make your very own cardboard canoe:

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Electronic Jack-O’-Lantern

Tech-loving makers around the world are inspired by Halloween to create pumpkins that shoot lasers, flash messages with lights or shoot silly string when someone walks by … all using LED lights, sensors or arduinos. They call them Hack-O’-Lanterns. Roll up your sleeves, clean that cold goop out of your pumpkin and get making.

Click here to learn how make a “hack-o’-lantern” from Instructables.com!

This easy how-to, Tiny LED Jack-O’-Lantern, from Instructables.com is a great start for YOU, kid makers!

  • Maker Zack Scott takes you step by step through the lighting of a pie pumpkin with an LED module. He shares photos for each step. When its done, you have a little jack-o’-lantern that lights up with the flick of switch on the back of the pumpkin!
  • Zack draws his circuit diagram to show you just how the electricity needs to run between the batteries, switch and light. Learning to build a simple circuit like this opens the door for all kinds of other projects. For example, make your Halloween costume light up with the simple circuit in our Light Up Wristband how-to.

Wondering where to find the parts to make your own hack o’lantern?

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Leaf Blower Hovercraft

Have you ever dreamed of building your own flying machine, kid makers?

Learn to make a leaf blower hovercraft with kid maker Ethan and his assistant, maker Matthew Beckler of Wayne and Layne. It’s cheap, SO EASY and can even lift the weight of an adult. We can’t wait for you to try it yourself.

Click here for full project instructions.

Let us know how your hovercraft flies at info@makeshopshow.com.

© 2012 Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

Homemade Water Slide

Click here for instructions from the We Made That blog.

Summer isn’t over yet, kid-makers, and we know you’re still looking for ways to turn your backyard into a water park! Add to the splashy fun of the  Water Bottle Sprinkler and Backyard Bike Wash projects we posted earlier this summer with your own homemade waterslide! Some people call these “slip and slides”, after the popular toy.

Slip and slides are simple to make and super fun for adults and kids alike. The kind you buy at the store, though, can be too narrow or too short, which is why when lots of folks think of slip and slides they think of ….. grass burns!

As makers, we like to improve on things so that they work better. That’s part of why we loved these instructions of how to make your own slip and slide that’s 10 feet wide by 25 feet long from the We Made That blog! In fact, you can even buy plastic rolls at the hardware store that are 10 feet wide by 100 feet long for as little as $5.

Helpful Tips:

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Backyard Bike Wash

AP Photo/The Enquirer/Ernest Coleman

This photo of a DIY bike wash at A Child’s Garden pre-school in Covedale, Ohio, has been posted and reposted across the internet – folks just love this cool idea! But how would you MAKE it?

Okay, kid-makers, get started on your own Backyard Bike Wash with this basic Instructable for a “KidWash” sprinkler arch. For a second, more advanced version that uses misters, click here. This project costs less than $10 to build.

Once you’ve built the basic arch, it’s time to get creative! Imagine the familiar elements of a car wash – sponges, hanging strips and water coming from different angles. You can use sponges from home or pick up some at your local dollar store. For strips, we recommend flagging tape (which you can find in different colors at any hardware store) because it is waterproof and will hang softly for riding through. But you could also use wrapping paper ribbon, jump ropes or cut strips from an old tarp.

Put the finishing touch on your Backyard Bike Wash with an official sign at the entrance and invite your friends over for hours of clean, cool fun! Check out our other fun ideas for backyard summer fun: Water Bottle Sprinkler and Homemade Water Slide.

*SAFETY NOTE: An adult helper is important for this project because of some of the tools involved (a saw and a power drill) and for safety supervision of your build. Protect the grass with tarps or build your bike wash on a patio to prevent a mud puddle beneath …. unless that’s exactly what you want! (Oh, we know you, kid-makers!)

© 2012 Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

Water Bottle Sprinkler

Kid-makers, we know you just can’t wait to run into the sunshine this summer break to play. This cool project idea can quickly turn your backyard into a DIY water park!

Click the photo for project instructions from Curbly.com

Click here for instructions from Curbly.com on how to make your own backyard sprinkler out of an empty water bottle, old ball point pens and a garden hose. You do need 2 things you won’t have lying around the house but together they cost less than your $5 allowance.

And why stop at one? Add a garden hose splitter . . . Read more of this post

Drill-Powered Skateboard

Check out this MAKESHOP Show original project, kid-makers! Watch makers Christian and Marie hack a skateboard by adding a giant scooter wheel and a PVC pipe that holds a simple power drill. Sit on the skateboard, pull the trigger on the drill and propel yourself across the floor on a one-of-a-kind rideable! Along the way, you’ll learn a few maker techniques with real tools. This is one of our most advanced projects and requires an adult helper for guidance and safety, kid makers.

Can you come up with any other hacks for skateboards, scooters, bikes or rideable toys? Want to help us try to build something on the Show? Leave a comment below or send us an email at info@makeshopshow.com.

Stay calm and make on!

© 2012 Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

Backyard Zip Line

Click here for instructions from eHow.com!

Kid makers, can you imagine zooming across your backyard on your own zip line? A zip line is a tight, inclined cord that has a handle on a pulley. You grab the handle, lift your feet and the pulley and gravity “zip” you down to the lower end! Professional zip lines can be as high as rainforest treetops. If you don’t have your own rainforest, build a safer, lower version to zoom down with your friends in your own backyard.

(Now, we know what you’re thinking: “YIKES!” But with an adult helper and common sense, a low zip line can be tons of fun and no more dangerous than anything on a normal playground.)

Here are some instructions, kits and ideas for how to begin . . .

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Book Furniture

Click here to see book furniture inspiration from Jaqueline LeBeau.

Makers look at regular objects and imagine new uses for them. And guess what? Kids do that everyday! As kid makers, we thought you’d love the idea of using old books like bricks for building.

Makers are reusing old  books to build tables, chairs, beds, counters, even little houses. The tables at right are by designer Jaqueline LeBeau. Click here or on the photo for more of her inspiring examples.

So, how do you physically connect the books to be able to build with them?

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