Cool Stuff You Can Make

Summertime often means spare time - time to make things! Here are some you might try. If you're a kid, be sure to ask permission of a responsible adult before you mess up the kitchen. Even better, ask an adult to help you.


You will need:

a tall, clean can (a coffee can works well; a jar is OK, but takes longer)

a large mixing bowl

ice cubes (two trays)

table salt

rubber spatula

measuring cup and spoons

half-and-half or milk


vanilla extract (or experiment!)

Pour 1/2 cup of half-and-half or milk into the can. Add two or three teaspoons of sugar and four drops of vanilla extract. Stir until blended. Put the can in the mixing bowl, and pour the ice around the can. Put about 1/2 cup of table salt over the ice. (When salt and ice mix, a chemical reaction occurs and the mixture gets very cold.)

The level of the liquid inside the can should be slightly below the level of the ice outside the can.

Spin the coffee can gently every 30 seconds or so. Scrape down the sides of the can occasionally. The ice cream will be ready in about 15 minutes. (It won't freeze solid; it will be more like soft-serve ice cream.) Try different flavors!


You WILL need:

a mixing bowl

measuring cup and spoons

small bowls for adding flavor to little batches

a stirring spoon

baking soda


flavorings (see suggestions)

You provide your own flavor for this old-fashioned toothpaste.

Put one cup of baking soda and one tablespoon of salt in a bowl. Stir to blend. Add 2-1/2 tablespoons of water. Mix some more. You'll get a clumpy paste. If you're not going to flavor it, add more water, a little at a time, to form a smoother paste. Store it in an airtight container. It's more fun to try flavoring small portions. Suggestions: We came up with orange-extract-and-honey toothpaste, cherry (using a little frozen juice), and cinnamon-and-sugar. Add flavors a little at a time, and test as you go. What flavors can you invent?


You will need:

a one-gallon container with a cap (a thoroughly rinsed-out milk jug)

measuring cup and spoons

a rubber spatula

Blue Dawn dishwashing liquid

glycerine (available at drug stores; about $3 for 4 oz.)


This recipe is used by the Exploratorium, a children's museum in San Francisco, in its bubblemaking area.

Fill the gallon container to the top with water. Pour out 1 cup. Pour 3/4 cup of Blue Dawn into a measuring cup. (For Concentrated Blue Dawn, use half as much.) Add two or three tablespoons of glycerine (it helps the bubbles last longer). Carefully pour the detergent-glycerine mixture into the milk jug. Use a spatula to scrape the sides of the measuring cup. Put the cap on, and let it stand overnight.

Have you ever seen so much bubble liquid? Here's your chance to try different bubble-blowers. Cut the bottom out of a styrofoam cup. Dip one end of the cup into the liquid, and blow gently through the other end.

A loop of string will work, too - though it takes practice and you must keep your hands wet to keep from popping the bubbles. Thread two drinking straws through a three-foot length of string. Tie the string in a loop, and use the straws as handles.

Or try blowing bubbles using just your hands! But do this outside.

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