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.

Recycled Planter

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Using household recyclables to create a planter is a fun and simple way to make your home or classroom a  little “greener”, and does its own watering!  It’s perfect for starting seeds indoors and growing seedlings until they’re big enough to plant in your garden.

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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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Doily Lamp

Click here to learn how to make your own doily lamp.

We love this idea of creating a lampshade out of a balloon, doilies and lots of glue! The simple steps with awesome results make this project perfect even for young kid makers.

Doilies are decorative lace shapes that people put under collectibles and plants to make them look prettier. Lots of people have extra doilies stashed away at home or you can find them easily at thrift stores or yard sales. The design of doilies makes this project more interesting because once the glue sets and the balloon is popped, your lampshade is full of lovely holes for the light to shine through. The light casts designs on your ceiling and walls (making it a cool night light, too). This project is a creative reuse of an existing material, making the best of its design for a new function.

Click here or on the photo for the full instructions for Doily Lamp at the Dose Family blog. Interestingly, though, the instructions aren’t the only thing we love about this post …

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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

Sweater Sleeve Slippers

Kid makers, you are growing all the time, growing right out of last year’s winter sweaters. Transform those old sweaters into cool new slippers – maker style!

Click here for instructions from the Organized Everyday blog.

Sweater sleeves are a great beginning to make other things (like one of our favorite projects, Sweater Sleeve Leg Warmers). By using the existing cuff and sleeve in your design, it only takes a few adaptations to make something new.

That’s what maker mom Jena did to make darling rainbow striped sweater sleeve slippers. She teaches you how to do it, too, over at her blog, Organized Everyday. Click here or on the photo for full instructions and pictures of each step.

You’ll need these materials:

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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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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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Glow in the Dark Projects

Fall is here and the days are getting shorter. The sun sets earlier and earlier until it’s dark before supper! Of course, here at The MAKESHOP Show that inspires us to make things – things  that gloooooowww in the daaaaark. (And just in time for Halloween!)

We hunted the internet for the coolest Glow in the Dark Projects for kid-makers just like you!

Click here for Glow in the Dark Nail Polish instructions from Cut Out + Keep!

Why do these materials glow?

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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

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