DIY Pop Can Flyer {Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred Book Review}

DIY Pop Can Flyer

If there’s one playful skill I would encourage in my kids above all others, it would be the passion for tinkering. I’m so happy to see the Maker movement gain steam – all the way up to the White House! What I love about the Maker philosophy is how it combines useful skills that will come in handy all through life with the freedom to tailor the maker experience to whatever you are passionate about. Whether a child (or an adult!) finds joy in baking, woodworking, coding, sewing, drawing, or robotics, he or she is learning the satisfying art of creating something with their own two hands.

While the maker/tinkering experience can be tailored to any child with any particular interest, it’s definitely something that needs fostered and encouraged in most kids. While some kids will naturally keep themselves occupied with tinkering, many kids will need some help getting started. My kids, for example, will nearly always choose the path of least resistance – namely iPads and iPods – if not encouraged to choose something else. Often just minimal prodding along with setting up the environment for their curiosity to take over is all they need to get their wheels turning. Because this kind of play may not come naturally to many families, I’m here to help you get started. Through sharing our own experiences and resources I find valuable, I hope you’ll find something that inspires the tinkerer that resides in all of us.

Books, of course, are always a good resource. One such book that caught my eye was Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred: Seriously Geeky Stuff to Make with Your Kids by David Erik Nelson. It’s packed with 24 DIY projects to make with things you can either scavenge or find on the cheap. Along the way you’ll learn beginner skills in sewing, carpentry, electronics and more. Nelson is a former high school teacher who developed many of these projects while teaching troubled youth.

The book is geared toward kids in junior high and up, but any of the projects can be done together as a family. Given that we weren’t quite prepared to jump into circuitry or soldering, we opted to try one of the beginner projects: the Pop Can Flyer.

Pop Can Flyer Supplies

You’ll need a clean, empty 12-oz soda or beer can, utility knife, a ruler or tape measure, a can opener or kitchen shears, and a Sharpie.

DIY Pop Can Flyer

The first order of business is to remove the top of the can, leaving the rolled aluminum ring intact. This would be fairly easy with an old-school can opener. However, we have a convoluted model that wouldn’t grip the can’s edge. We went with heavy-duty kitchen shears instead. If you’re using shears, be very careful – the edges will be sharp.

Pop Can Flyer

Measure 2 1/2″ down from the can’s shoulder, and mark this length at several points around the can’s circumference.

Cutting a Pop Can Flyer

Use a utility knife to cut away the bottom of the can. Yes, I let the 6-year-old do this. Nothing gets him more excited than the opportunity to use the utility knife. I’ve seen adults that don’t know how to safely use one – better to start them young.

That’s it! Your Pop Can Flyer is ready to fly. Throw it like a football, with the can’s top in front and giving it plenty of spin. Now, here’s where the real tinkering can start. Play around with different Pop Can Flyer configurations. Gather cans with different diameters. Play around with the body length. Add cutouts, wavy or zig-zagged edges and see how it changes your can’s flight distance and path.

The sky (and your supply of aluminum cans) is the limit!