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.

Gumball Machine Fish Tank

No, your eyes are not deceiving you:  that is a goldfish swimming in a gumball machine.

Click here for steps to make this from Instructables.com.

Here at The MAKESHOP Show, we love creative ideas for reusing old things and we know kids do, too. So we’re sharing this project idea for transforming an old gumball machine into a real, usable fish tank! PLUS, these instructions will also teach you the basics for turning other vessels into comfy fish homes.

Click here for the how-to on Instructables.com by maker wold630.

Some important notes on this project:

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Warm Fuzzies Hand Warmers

By Guest Maker Theresa Baughmanfinale

These rice filled heating pads are great for colds, toothaches, muscle aches, cold winter days, glove warmers, heating pads, headaches and more. They are a simple sewing project perfect for young makers or those new to sewing technique. Plus, there’s tons of room to be creative! Don’t miss
our inventive suggestions at the end.

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Soup Can Microphone

What’s more fun than eating soup? We’ll let you think on that one.  But lot of things can happen after eating soup.

Click here for full instructions by CuriousInventor on Instructables.

One of them is making a soup can microphone!

We found these instructions for making a real tin can microphone over at one of our favorite websites, Instructables.com. Maker expert CuriousInventor gives you clear explanations of the steps, plus helpful photos along the way to build a microphone that will give you a retro, lo-fi sound perfect for your new garage band or just giving yourself a bigger way to enter a room.

Look Closer: One of the key parts in this simple electronics projects is called a Piezo element. Piezoelectricity is electricity that results from applying pressure on certain materials.  The piezo element that you use for this project is a sensor that, when pushed by sound waves, creates a changing voltage to power your microphone. You can find a piezo element for about $1.50 online or for around $5 at your local RadioShack. It’s a fun example of a very affordable, easy-to-find part that you can use to make all kinds of fun sound-making projects. Read more of this post

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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Light Painting

A light painting by a young maker in the MAKESHOP at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.

Yesterday in the MAKESHOP™, makers of all ages had a brilliant time “light painting”, a photographic technique that uses a camera with slow shutter speed to capture images of fast moving lights. With materials you probably have nearby right now, you can have hours of fun experimenting with goofy, dramatic and surprising visual effects!

Below is a slideshow of just a few of the hundreds of light paintings we made yesterday. Send us YOUR favorite at info@makeshopshow.com.

Read on for materials, instructions and inspirations for making your own light paintings!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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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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T-shirt Bags

Click here to make this no-sew fringe bag from Tealou and Sweetpea.

On a rainy weekend, nothing is more comfortable  than sitting around at home in your favorite T-shirt and jeans. If you’re like us, kid makers,  you may have a whole collection of clothes that you don’t wear but dont’ want to throw out … especially favorite t-shirts. Whether you outgrew it, it’s stained or it’s just last year’s style, we have the perfect upcycling fix: BAGS!

We all carry a lot of things this time of year, like a book bags for school, grocery bags for apple picking, and of course, trick-or-treat bags for Halloween! Grab your oldest summer tee and start making.

T-shirt Bag Project Ideas:

T-shirt bags are a great example of one of kid-makers favorite types of making: UPCYCLING! What is “upcycling”?

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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

Upcycled Books

Click here for this secret compartment idea from Better Homes & Gardens.

Look around your house, and you may be surprised to find books that you do not read anymore, or ones that are slightly damaged. As more people start using e-readers, makers are finding creative uses for beautiful old books as objects with new purposes. Grab some old books and try these projects:

  • Sew pages of books to create storage pockets with this easy step-by-step on S. C. Johnson Co.’s blog Family Economics. It’s a unique way to keep track of your favorite photos, movie tickets and valentines!
  • Hollow out a book to create a secret compartment like this one from Better Homes & Gardens’ project ideas site.  Another way to do this is to glue a bunch of book spines to a box and slide it onto your bookshelf between real books, like in this photo. Voila! Your treasures are now safe from your little brother.
  • Make hardcover books into shelves like these examples we found at realsimple.com. They give the term “book shelf” a whole new meaning!
  • Build furniture out of old bookswith simple brackets and hardware.

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