Pan Pipes

groverGet your Grover on with these simple pan pipes necklaces! I designed them for a large-scale Lightning Thief event (you can read more about the event, and our awesome Mythomagic deck here). The pipes were part of a “Pan Pipes & Pythagoras” table hosted by Music Together Princeton Lab School. Since we needed to create several hundred sets of pan pipes (event attendance was around 5,000) I needed something inexpensive that would give kids a little taste of tone and pitch.

I considered PVC pipe, empty marker tubes, empty pen tubes…but they were either too expensive, impractical, too hard to cut, couldn’t produce a satisfactory sound, or required way too much prep time. Happily, the solution came when I stopped by Fruity Yogurt, a local frozen yogurt place. In addition to soft serve, Fruity Yogurt does bubble tea, which naturally comes with a bubble tea straw.

strawsBubble tea straws are thicker than your average drinking straw. I tested a few and they were perfect! Not to mention inexpensive and they come in jolly colors!

You’ll need:

  • At least 4 bubble tea straws
  • A small craft stick (for a 4-straw set of pipes, you’ll need a 3″ craft stick)
  • A 28-29″ piece of yarn
  • A ruler
  • A Sharpie permanent marker
  • Scissors and tape for construction

Start by folding the bottom of each straw up and taping it very tightly (some bubble tea straws have pointed bottoms – you can trim the point off if you’d like).

taped straw Place the folded straw next to a ruler, and use a permanent marker to mark the desired  length of the straw. I cut my straws in 0.5″ increments. So the first straw was 5″, the second straw was 4.5″, the third straw was 4″, and the fourth straw was 3.5″.

marked straw I did some experimenting with how long or how short a straw can be before it starts losing its tone. Based on my experiments, I wouldn’t go any longer than 7.5″ and no shorter than 2.5″. Beyond those lengths, the straws seem to lose their ability to hold a note.

Next, knot the yarn on both ends of the craft stick, and reinforce the knots with tape.

attached yarnLine all your straws next to each other in ascending order. Make sure the top (i.e. the open ends) of the straws are even with one another. Secure them with a piece of tape.

taped pipesThen flip the pipes over and tape the craft stick on the other side! Done!

finished pipes

Lights, Camera, Action!

a star is bornWhether you’re covering a celebrity event or conducting an in-depth interview, you’ll need the right equipment to get the job done. Namely a camera, a handheld microphone, and a boom microphone!

We’ve successfully “filmed” story time fashion shows, spoken with future presidents, covered red carpet entrances, and chatted with entomologists about a new bug species they’ve discovered. We’ve also let kids take over the equipment. It’s guaranteed to hold up to even the most enthusiastic documentarion.

You’ll need:

  • Black paper or paint
  • 2 cereal boxes (one extra large, one small)
  • 1 packing tape core
  • A 4″ x 4″ square of mirror board
  • 1 toilet paper tube
  • A selection of dot stickers (optional)
  • 2 paper towel tubes
  • 2 black pipe cleaners
  • 1 black jumbo pom-pom (mine was 1.5″)
  • A 38″ piece of PVC pipe
  • A roll of black masking tape
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Hot glue

 CAMERA

cameraWrap the cereal boxes, packing tape core, and toilet paper tube with black paper (we used a roll of bulletin board paper, but you could also use black paint). Hot glue the 2 cereal boxes together. Katie glued a “Channel P” sign to the side of the small cereal box as well.

To make your camera lens, cut the mirror board to fit the circumference of the packing tape core, then attach the mirror board to the core with hot glue. Hot glue the core to the front of the extra large cereal box.

camera other side Hot glue the toilet paper tube “viewfinder” to the extra large cereal box. Put dot sticker “buttons” on the small cereal box (or draw your own button panel on white paper and attach to the box). Here’s a bird’s eye view of the camera with all of its parts in place.

camera topMake sure the viewfinder is on the opposite side of the camera from the small cereal box. Otherwise, you won’t be able to hold the camera on your shoulder!

HANDHELD MICROPHONE

microphoneCut a paper towel tube down to 8″ then wrap with black paper (or use black paint). To make the spiral cord, curl a black pipe cleaner around a marker. Then tape the pipe cleaner inside the bottom of the tube.

For the microphone’s “windscreen,” bunch pieces of tin foil into a bulbous cone shape. It should look like this:

mic foil 1Layer more piece of tin foil on top of the bulb so the windscreen bulges over the rim of the paper towel tube. Then hot glue the foil to the tube.

mic foil 2Feel free to add some dot sticker buttons if you like. Your microphone is ready to record!

BOOM MICROPHONE

boom micThe camera and the handheld mic are great, but the boom mic REALLY makes this set!

First, wrap the paper towel tube with black paper (or use paint). Then hot glue a jumbo pom pom on one end. To make the cord, curl a black pipe cleaner around a marker. Tape one end inside the tube. Tape the other end of the pipe cleaner to the outside bottom of the tube.

boom mic extrasTo create the boom, wrap a 38″ piece of PVC pipe with black masking tape. Use scissors (or a box cutter) to make a hole in the middle of the tube. Insert the PVC pipe into the hole, and keep pushing until the pipe touches the interior of the tube. Secure with black masking tape.

boom mic stepsYour set is complete! When covering a news story, I sometimes throw on a coat and matching fedora. To make things more official, you know.

news crew

Ship in a Bottle

ship in a bottleAhoy! Don’t toss that little plastic water bottle! This simple ship can be put together from supplies laying around any pirate den.

You’ll need:

  • An empty 8 oz plastic water bottle
  • A 4″ x 4″ square of standard white paper
  • 2 pennies
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating

Remove the label from the water bottle. I used Poland Springs brand because it has a paper label that comes off easily. There was still some adhesive stuck to the bottle…

adhesiveBut it came off right away with some scotch tape. Press the tape to the adhesive, and then rip it off! Repeat until all the adhesive is gone and you have a nice clean bottle.

Now for the ship! For the step-by-step folding instructions below, I used marbled origami paper to better illustrate the folds. But you can definitely use plain old white paper for your ship. Start with a 4″ x 4″ square of paper.

ship step 1Now cut the paper in half, forming 2 triangles.

ship step 2Moving forward, you’ll just be using one of the triangles (give the other to yer shipmate). Orient your triangle like so…

ship step 3Then fold the lower right point up to the top of the triangle.

ship step 4Repeat with the left point. Your paper will now look like this:

ship step 5Open your triangle like so…

ship step 6Then fold the top point down to the base of the triangle like this:

ship step 7Fold the right point up again…

ship step 8Then repeat with the left point.

ship step 9Fold the bottom point up…

ship step 10Then gentle push it back down again. This creates the base that props up your ship.

ship step 11Your ship is done!

ship step 12Since you’ll be folding a ship using standard white paper, your ship will of course be all white. Therefore, your next step is to color the base of the ship with markers (and the sails too if you like).

colored ship baseThen turn the ship around and tape two stacked pennies to the base. The pennies are important. Not only do they keep the ship upright, they also anchor the bottle on its side  AND act as a counterbalance for the bottle’s cap.

pennies on baseReady to get that ship in the bottle? Gently fold the base upwards, and curl the sails loosely around it. Try not to pinch the ship too tightly.

rolled shipInsert the rolled ship through the mouth and neck of the bottle. Use your finger or a pencil to gently unroll the ship and straighten the sails. Twist the cap on your bottle, and you’re done!

finished ship in bottleThis project was a bit hit at a large-scale Treasure Island event we hosted. Even though the origami fold is relatively easy, we folded a fleet of ships in advance for very young children, who were able to jump right into decorating them. We also developed this extremely popular (and inexpensive) pom-pom cannon  for another event table.

We had a real cannon too, courtesy of the Pennsylvania State Navy historical reenactors.

cannonThese folks were amazing. The history, artifacts, and knowledge they brought to the event were absolutely top rate.

pa navyAnother amazing educator was this gentleman from the Trenton Old Barracks Museum, who portrayed Dr. Livesey. He brought all of his period medical implements and described them in great detail. And yes, before you ask – he did bring leeches.

dr livesey