If you’re looking to start a fun project with dad, here’s a round-up of kid-friendly projects videos, put together by MAKE Managing Editor Keith Hammond. Thanks, Keith!
Compressed Air Rockets
I’d hazard it’s the single most popular kid-dad project we’ve ever done: the Compressed Air Rocket Launcher. Father and teacher Rick Schertle showed us how in MAKE Volume 15, and then KipKay built it in a MAKE Weekend Projects video that’s had more than 400,000 views.
(Get the Compressed Air Rocket kit from Maker Shed here.)
The dads and kids of the world took it from there — today YouTube is full of videos of families having fun launching Compressed Air Rockets:
Potato Gatling Gun
Pixar animator Tony DeRose is a leader in our Young Makers program (youngmakers.org), a collaboration between Maker Media, the Exploratorium, Disney-Pixar, and TechShop. This awesome project began when Tony and his boys Joe and Sam built the hair-spray-propelled Potato Cannon from Bill Gurstelle’s book Backyard Ballistics (see Bill’s see-through spud gun, the Nightlighter 36, in MAKE Volume 03).
In the spirit of outrageous oneupsmanship, the DeRose family proceeded to multiplex the spud gun into a six-barrel rotating gat with a 500V step-up transformer, automotive spark plugs for ignition, and 200-foot range. Naturally they showed it off at Maker Faire, immortalized on YouTube and their own site.
The Water Totter
Another cool dad in the Young Makers program, Kurt Fleischer, is a senior research scientist at Pixar, where he worked on building filmmaking software to create Cars and WALL-E before joining their research team. On his off time, he likes to apply his engineering skills to work on projects with his daughter, Lena, such as the Water Totter they exhibited at Maker Faire. Kurt used this project, which turns an old-style seesaw into a water fountain, as an opportunity to teach Lena about concepts in engineering, conservation, energy generation, and a few life lessons.
Sylvia’s Super Awesome Mini Maker Show
It’s not just that Sylvia is an awesome 9-year-old host who shows you how to make everything from rockets to crazy putty to Arduino gadgets. It’s that she and her maker dad James Morrison (aka TechNinja) do such a fantastic job producing this show. This may be the liveliest DIY show online, and I can’t help thinking that Sylvia’s effervescent personality and zest for making stuff are testament to a dad behind the scenes who has encouraged his daughter to follow her dreams no matter how geeky, gooky, or flammable they may be. Inspirational.