DIY Nerf Swivel Target

When I saw this on another blogger’s site, I KNEW my boys had to make this!  I usually make them go outside and play with their Nerf darts but they always aim at the house (since they are not allowed to aim at each other.)  Here’s an EASY target for them to make and use!  And there’s some sneaky science/engineering in the project as well!

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Heavy cardboard or foam posterboard (we used an old cardboard box)
  • Boxcutter/heavy duty scissors
  • Duct tape (we used painter’s tape)
  • skewers
  • straws
  • coins
  • crayons/markers
  • Nerf toy with foam darts (or you can use small balls/bean bags to throw at the targets)

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First, draw square or rectangular shaped holes in the cardboard/posterboard where you want the targets to go.

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Cut these out with heavy duty scissors or a box cutter.  If working with small children, an adult should definitely do the cutting. Once the target holes are cut from the board, cut them a bit smaller and then give them to the kids to draw and color their targets.  My superheroes BOTH decided to draw Darth Maul on their targets. (Thank goodness they didn’t draw my husband or me!)IMG_2599Once the targets have been drawn and colored, slip a skewer inside the straw and tape the straw to the back of the target.  This will allow the target to swivel and spin. Tape the exposed skewer to the edge of the holes in the board.  We added tape on all 4 sides to make it look pretty.IMG_2606What is that blue tape with a circle in the middle on the back of the target?  It’s a penny.  It was suggested that the penny helps the target stay vertical instead of hanging horizontally (due to issues with center of mass being too “centered”. The weight lowers the center of mass and allows it hang vertically).  Here’s the finished product from the front.

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And here is my middle son testing out his targets.  Yup!  They work.
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Our littlest one likes tossing small balls at the target and watch the targets spin 🙂

The Science behind the activity:

Any type of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) project that you can include the kids in will involve some math and science.  Just planning out what they are going to make, measuring and cutting and putting things together are vital problem solving skills.  What I liked about this is that we discussed why we needed a straw AND a skewer for the targets to spin.  This is important for any building project where things need to spin such as wheels for cars and trucks.  We also tested and talked about why the penny was needed on the targets to get them to hang vertically and why it was better for the straws to be attached a little higher than the middle of the target.  By showing them how to experiment and problem solve, we can help them better tackle problems in the future.

Extension: This project could be varied to create targets for all sorts of fun games to play with balls, bean bags, water squirters, etc… So many ways for both girls and boys to make and play with this.

Click on the link for more details and to see where I got this idea from: http://frugalfun4boys.com/2015/02/11/spinning-nerf-targets-diy-cardboard-toy/

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Lego Marble Maze

Last week we took our lego-obsessed superheroes to Legoland in Carlsbad, CA.  The boys had a BLAST while we were there and had fun building while my husband or I waited in line for rides.  That got me thinking… Lego and science?  Could there be a more perfect union?

We started our Lego explorations with a simple Marble Maze.  I had to help them get started but then they were on their own!

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Lego or Duplo building plates
  • Assorted Lego or Duplo pieces

We used the smaller base plates for our first run but a Duplo base plate with a bouncy ball would be perfect for the younger superheroes in your life.

I showed the superheroes what a marble maze looks like on my computer and then gave them some tips to get started.  That’s it!  Easy!

Below is our first run:

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My younger superhero made the one below, complete with a “blocking bridge” and a tower.

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Tips:

  • Build a border around the base plate to keep the marble in.
  • Make sure there is a clear entrance and exit.
  • Determine how wide the alleys need to be to accommodate the marble.
  • Determine how high the bridges/arches need to be to accommodate the marble.

Extensions:

Try using different size base plates, different size marbles/balls, tunnels, dead ends, obstacles, ramps, etc… the options are endless!  Have an A-MAZE-ing time building!

The Science hidden in this Activity:

Building is a wonderful way to introduce your superheroes to engineering, problem solving, creativity, etc… My boys are obsessed with Lego and sometimes they build while following the instructions (excellent for developing focus and the skill of following multi-step directions) and other times they build freely (excellent for creativity and problem solving).  Either way, it’s great for their brain!

Follow this link to see where I got the idea from and more details about the activity:

http://www.science-sparks.com/2014/08/07/lego-maze/

Feel free to share pictures of your a-maze-ing creations in the comments or on our Facebook Page!