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  • Writer's pictureShawna Rundstrom

Everyone Can Be A Maker

By Diane Cretin

In this time of sheltering in place, we encourage Olivia to focus on things she can do besides her school work. We want her to get off of electronics and enjoy using her mind to find creative things to do. She can use books and enlist the help of adults when needed.

One of her current favorite resources is National Geographic Kids MAKE THIS! Building, Thinking, and Tinkering Projects for the Amazing Maker in You by Ella Schwartz. We got it through Scholastic.

So what is a Maker? According to Ella Schwartz, a maker is someone who tinkers, fixes, breaks, rebuilds, and constructs projects for the world around them. When faced with a problem, a maker can use or recycle materials around them to solve it. A maker may not solve the problem, on the first try, but that's not a big deal. Makers aren't afraid to fail. It's just another chance to try again and again to come up with the perfect solution - maybe! It's part of the challenge and the fun!

There is no one kind of maker. Makers are artists, crafters, bakers, builders, painters, woodworkers, inventors, and more. A maker is anyone who is curious and creative. A Maker is You!

Here are four things that Olivia recently did as a maker:

Walking Water

You need:

5 clear plastic cups, food coloring in red, yellow, and blue, water, and paper towels

What to do:

1. Fill 3 of the cups about 3/4 full of water.

2. Add red food coloring to one cup, yellow to another, and blue to the last cup.

3. Place the cups in a straight line in the following sequence from left to right:

1) cup with red liquid, 2) empty cup, 3) cup with yellow liquid, 4) empty cup, 5) cup with blue liquid

4. Take a paper towel square and roll it into a long tube. Place one end in the cup with the red liquid and the other end into the empty cup to the right of it.

5. Take another paper towel square and roll it into a long tube. Place one end in the yellow liquid and the other end in the empty cup to the left of it.

6. Repeat steps 4 & 5, but this time between the cups filled with yellow and blue liquid.

See the set up picture above.

7. After a few hours, observe the results. (We did this midday, so we left it overnight for best results.)

So what's going on with this activity? Paper towels are made of a material that is highly absorbent. The water is soaked up by the paper towel and moved into the empty cups. The process where liquid moves up something solid, like a paper towel, is known as capillary action. Capillary action is what makes water move or "walk" up the paper towels and into the empty cup. The empty cup fills up with water until the water levels of all the cups are equal if you give it enough time.

What do you see? What color do you get when you mix red and yellow? How about when you mix yellow and blue?

String Phone (this brought back childhood memories)

You need:

2 large plastic cups, a pushpin, between 10 - 30 feet of string, 2 paper clips, and a sibling or parent

What to do:

1. Using the pushpin, poke a small hole into the bottom of both cups. Wiggle the pushpin around to make each hole big enough for the string to go through it. Ask an adult to help you with this step.

2. Insert one end of the string into a cup through the bottom hole. Tie that end to a paper clip, so that when you pull the string tight, the paper clip rests against the inside bottom of the cup.

3. Repeat this step with the other end of the string and your second cup.

4. Give one cup to a sibling or parent and keep the other cup for yourself. Walk slowly apart until the string connecting the two cups is straight and tight.

5. Put your cup over your ear. (I found it helped if I put my hands around where the cup connected to my head so there were no air gaps.) Have your family member talk into their cup using a quiet voice. Can you hear them talking?

6. Now switch. You talk quietly into your cup and have your family member listen. Can your sibling or parent hear you? With my hands around the cup, I thought it was cool that I could feel the vibration when Olivia spoke.

7. Now let the string go slack and try having a conversation. Can you still hear each other?

What is going on with this activity? When you talked into the cup, your voice made the air inside the cup vibrate. This made the bottom of the cup vibrate, which then made the paper clip and the string vibrate. The vibrations continued to travel across the string, through your family member's cup, and finally reached their ear as sound. For the sound to travel along this path, the string must be kept taut. When the string goes slack, the vibrations don't have a solid path to travel through and begin to lose their energy, eventually fading before reaching your sibling's or parent's ear.


You need:

An empty paper towel tube, scissors, wax paper, rubber band, and a sharpened pencil. Optional: paint

What to do:

1. Using the scissors, cut out a square of wax paper slightly bigger than the width of the paper towel tube opening.

2. Cover one end of the paper towel tube with the wax paper square and secure it in place tightly with the rubber band.

3. Using the sharpened pencil, carefully poke four holes down a line through the paper towel tube. It doesn't matter exactly where the holes are.

4. Place the open end of the kazoo up to your mouth and hum into the tube. You can also try saying "do" or "woo" over and over again into the kazoo to try making different sounds. Try covering and uncovering the holes as you hum. Olivia chose to paint part of her kazoo to make it prettier.

What's going on? As you hum into the kazoo, the sound waves of your voice travel down the paper towel tube. Some of the waves hit the wall of the paper towel tube, bouncing off of it. some of the waves escape through the open holes. The rest of the sound hits the wax paper, causing the wax paper to vibrate. Since the wax paper is light and thin, it vibrates very quickly, changing the sound of your voice.

Baking Bread

Olivia also helped her grandpa make bread.

So look around your house and go make something! We would love to see your creations.

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