YouTuber Builds AI Machine to Compliment Dogs Outside and Alert Him as They Pass

YouTuber builds AI dog detector
(YouTube/Ryder Calm Down)

The only thing that beats spending all day looking at animal pictures online is seeing an animal in real life. As it turns out, there’s a reason we feel better when staring into those wide-eyed, furry faces. Looking at pictures of animals actually increases our serotonin levels, rewarding us with a burst of the mood-stabilizing chemical any time we so much as Google “cute dog.”

For Ryder who runs the YouTube channel Ryder Calm Down, pictures weren’t quite cutting it anymore. He wanted to see animals in real life, from the comfort of his own home. Ryder explained that he didn’t have time to sit at his street-facing window all day, eagerly waiting for a dog to pass. Instead, he built a machine to stand guard for him, a machine that’s perpetually on Paw Patrol (is that the premise of the show? I’ve still never made it through more than 30 seconds before zoning out completely).

Using a Raspberry Pi and a machine learning module, Ryder records a video feed through his window. The AI program is designed to recognize 80 unique things out in the real world, but Ryder only had eyes for one – neighborhood dogs. The street-facing Raspberry Pi camera runs constantly, analyzing everything that passes and identifying the things programmed into its system.

Ryan wrote up a unique code, telling his impressive setup to pay specific attention to dogs, even though it also recognizes things like cars and people. After testing to make sure the machine was in fact picking up any dogs that passed by, Ryder set up a very basic alert system in the form of a megaphone that essentially yelled at Ryder any time a dog was detected. The unsettling text-to-speech voice that never seems to know which syllables to emphasize notifies Ryder, “attenTION, there IS A dog OUTside.” Hey, if it works, it works.

When Ryder isn’t home, he still wants to make sure all the good boys and good girls out there get the attention they deserve. He turns the megaphone’s speaker towards the street, and if Ryan isn’t there to appreciate the dogs in person, he pre-recorded his very own complement. “I like your dog,” the megaphone announces to the very confused passerby. Something tells me Ryder is about to become extremely pupular among his furry neighbors.

Reclaim Your Garage With These DIY Storage Ideas

DIY Garage Storage Ideas
(Getty Images/Don Mason)

Let’s be real: An “organized garage” often seems like an oxymoron. They serve too many purposes and see too many visitors. Everyone and their uncle have been in your garage. If it’s open (and in the summer, isn’t it always open?), that’s the door people use to come in. In the winter, your partner is adamant they want to use the garage “for its intended purpose,” and you’re suddenly trying to make room for the family van. But what about your tools? What about all the crap you’ve been told you “need to find a place for”? How are you supposed to do that in the garage when it’s also home to the SUV, the sports equipment, and more bikes than you have kids? It’s overwhelming. But there are some key things you can do to make it less so. Enter: DIY garage storage ideas.

The following tips, tricks, and hacks will help you make sense of the chaos you currently call your garage.

DIY Garage Storage Ideas and Garage Tool Storage Ideas

Figure Out What You Need

Go stand in your garage. Survey the area. Maybe bring a friend or spouse to offer an objective perspective. You need space for car and bike storage. You’re going to need a place to stash the holiday stuff. And, of course, you need a place to hang, hide, and use your tools. Decide on the zones you need to create within the limited space of your garage. Make a list.

Play “Crime Scene”

You’ll need:

  • A tape measure
  • Masking tape or painters tape

It’s easy to see a bunch of junk and want to run out and buy tubs to shove all that junk in. But then where will the tubs go? If the Christmas wreaths get mixed in with your circular saw, you’re never going to find anything (or if you do, your wreath may no longer be in one piece). Once you have your list of zones, figure out where you want to put them. Measure how much space that cluster of bikes takes up and tape off a “parking area” (close to the garage door so the kids aren’t rolling bikes out by the new car).

Cluster your holiday decor together in a neat and orderly fashion. Measure that and tape out where you think it will go. Consider your workbench and your tool storage and measure and mark that space, as well. In essence, you’re mapping out a crime scene for your belongings using tape — although the true crime would be not making the most of every inch of storage you can find in your garage.

Note: The walls and ceilings are fair game, too. Can you hang the less-used bikes from the ceiling? Imagine how much shit you can put on hooks on a pegboard! The possibilities are endless.

OK, Fine — Go Shopping

Now that you’ve surveyed the scene, you might have a better idea of what you need. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • If you already have bins to use, measure them before you buy shelves.
  • If you already have shelves, measure those before you buy storage bins.
  • If you don’t have either: Prepare to do a ton of math.
  • If possible, buy clear bins so you can see what’s inside.
  • Label stuff. You’ll thank yourself later.

Flexibility Is Key

Remember that what’s in your garage at the beginning is only going to multiply over time. And trust us, you don’t want to have to do this every other year until the kids go off to college. So, leave bins empty to fill at a later date. Buy shelves that hold more than you have or that can be adjusted to fit more as you go along.

Start at the Garage Door

Pro tip: Start at the garage door. Why? Well, mainly because your tools and workbench have probably been allocated to the back wall, right? (Always. That’s always where Dad’s workbench ends up.) That area is going to take the most time. After all, tool storage is also probably your main reason for doing this. If you start with your tools, chances are you’ll stop after your tools.

It’s Time! Go Crazy With Your Tools!

Your tool storage and workspace can look as anal-retentive as you want them to look. There are no wrong answers. Some dads play “crime scene” with a permanent marker and pegboard, giving each hand tool a designated spot on the wall. Other dads spend a fortune on one of those rolling metal toolboxes and then toss everything inside. Let’s shoot for a happy medium.

How to Keep It Organized

Keep similar tools or tools you’ll use for the same kind of job in roughly the same spot.

Be nitpicky about the nuts, bolts, and screws. Listen, none of this little stuff is expensive. But it’s also possible to end up with 200 of an odd-sized screw you only needed for three projects because you couldn’t find the box you bought last time. Those tiny drawer units are super cheap at places like Harbor Freight. Buy a few. Borror the label maker from your partner or work, and go to town. You can literally type up labels and put them on the drawers while watching the Lakers. And the next time you need a #24 wood screw, you know exactly where to find one.

Lock every drawer that you possibly can. Little hands can do big damage with a staple gun.

Have a decoy toolbox. Keep it stocked with the bare necessities and cheap versions of things your family might want to borrow. Hammer, screwdriver, Allen wrench, drill, picture-hanging nails/screws, tape measure — you get the gist. Keep it somewhere super obvious, like right on top of your workbench. That way, when they need something, they can find what they think they need easily (read: without digging through your stuff).

Woman Buys Her Old Family Home and Finds Hidden Note and Whiskey From Dad

Hidden Whiskey
(TikTok/Craig Harrigan)

A few decades after her family moved out, a woman purchased the home she grew up in. And when a contractor was working on her kitchen renovation, he found a message and a bottle of whiskey left by her dad years earlier.

The contractor, Craig Harrigan, revealed the discovery on a video he shared on Tik Tok. It was a few simple lines, and a bottle of whiskey. “Jack and May lived here – three kids and a dog. Kitchen done up during April-May 2001. All the best. Have a drink on us.”

@hooserice88Carrying out essential work! Great find. Not sure I would drink it tbh. ##fyp ##drink ##whisky ##scotland ##scottish ##wrenkitchen ##VideoSnapChallenge♬ original sound – Craig Harrigann

He told the Today Show they thought the bottle was garbage until they saw the note, and then they called the client. He said she was taken aback when she saw it and mentioned she was one of the three kids.

Her parents had sold the house a few months after leaving the note and whiskey, and his client (the daughter) had purchased it nearly two decades later. Harrigan, a dad himself, knew exactly what to do.

“After she told me it was her father that wrote the note, I cut the section of the floor out for her to keep along with the bottle.”

There is no one who will treasure this discovery more than his daughter. And the lesson here is to turn every home improvement project into a mini time capsule, as a way to leave your mark on the world. And who knows, you may just be leaving your kid a drink (at a time when they can legally enjoy it).

Crafty Dad Builds Epic Indoor Climbing Room for His Two Sons

Dad builds climbing room for sons
(SUPPLIED)

COVID has ushered in an unprecedented era of creativity. We’ve had to adjust seemingly overnight to an entirely new way of living, and for parents, keeping kids entertained without their typical activities has proved to be unexpectedly challenging. Many parents, however, have taken the challenge in stride and jumped feet-first into finding creative solutions. Mike Ross is one such dad, ensuring that not even a pandemic would slow his active family down.

The Ross Family
(The Ross Family)

“When the lockdown happened it really felt like we needed to use our own space to its fullest potential in order to keep sane and busy,” Mike told The Dad. “It felt hard to keep the kids active and motivated at times, they were (are) really missing their friends so we wanted to have some options for them.”

Mike and his wife have two sons, a 5.5-year-old and a 2-year-old. Early on in quarantine, Mike took on his first big project to keep his kids entertained at home – a backyard play-set given to him by a friend. Rather than assemble the play-set as it was, Mike decided to turn it into something that any kid would envy.

“We reassembled it and modified it slightly,” Mike said of his formerly run-of-the-mill play-set. “We added a cargo-net climbing wall (truck bed cargo net) and hung a hammock underneath. We added a climbing rope and a trapeze bar. Later we mounted the sprinkler to it… the creative juices started flowing about then.”

Backyard Set
(The Ross Family)

After successfully using the warmer months to the fullest, Mike wanted his kids to have a similar level of excitement about something they could use year-round. Prior to quarantine, Mike didn’t have a whole lot of woodworking experience – but like most dads, his kids provided both the inspiration and motivation to use what skills he had and learn the skills he needed.

Mike’s oldest son loves climbing, and his history of scaling anything from banisters to basketball nets sparked the idea for a climbing room. Mike’s wife broke the massive project down into doable chunks, and his brother stepped up to help him complete the challenging project. Though the climbing wall was technically for the kids, it truly became a family affair.

“We had been talking about it since November but had other priorities over the holidays so he (our oldest) knew it was coming and counting down the days but it wasn’t finished until the beginning of January,” Mike recalled. “Our 5yo insisted on being in the room and trying to help and was trying to get on it every chance he got (not annoying at all). As soon as it was secure and he got the go-ahead, he jumped right in and his little brother followed right behind. They were practically squealing with joy and looked like real little monkeys climbing the walls!”

“We have a chin-up bar in the doorway, a basketball net on the back of the door and a laser light bluetooth speaker in there too now. We are always thinking about new ways to play in there, they love(d) it!”

Indoor Climbing Wall
(The Ross Family)
Indoor Climbing Wall for Kids
(The Ross Family)
Kids Glowing Climb Wall
(The Ross Family)

Couple Turns Van Into Mobile Dining Room to Visit Favorite Restaurants

Mobile Van Dining
(Instagram/van_dining)

The restaurant industry has been forced to adapt like few others in the COVID era. With changing restrictions and government lockdowns, supporting your favorite restaurant is harder than ever. Food workers are feeling the crunch, and leads in the food industry are trying to help. But what also helps is creative people finding ways to (safely) enjoy eating outside their homes.

With winter here, and outside dining practically impossible, can this even be accomplished? According to one couple in Illinois, the answer is a mobile dining room, so they can bring the restaurant experience to the parking lots of their favorite eateries. With indoor dining shut down in their state, Doug and Kim White turned an old van into a private dining room, with a table, chairs, and even some fancy lights. This way, they can hit up their favorite spots and still enjoy a fresh, hot meal (safely) inside (of a van, but still).

 

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A post shared by Doug & Kim White (@van_dining)

 

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A post shared by Doug & Kim White (@van_dining)

They post updates on their dining experience online (and quickly went viral), and Doug wrote that they do it because “having been in the industry, I know how hard it is for a restaurant to stay in business even without a pandemic threat…We turned the Mikey Mobile into a portable dining room. We’ll do what we can to support our eateries.”

He did say in another post that it’s not quite the same not being able to sit at the bar and enjoy an ice-cold Old Style, but that they’ll ‘take what we can get’ in the Covid world.

Friends and family members have started reaching out to borrow the mobile dining room, and it should get plenty of use during the cold Illinois winter.

10 Duct Tape Craft Ideas For When It’s Your Turn To Do Arts And Crafts

Duct Tape Crafts
svetikd/Getty Images

Arts and crafts time is hard, man. You’re probably not feeling the construction paper. Coloring pages might not be your thing either (except for the Baby Yoda coloring book, right?). And don’t worry; no adult likes glitter. So, when you’re stuck trying to appease the small humans in your household with arts and crafts time, what can you do? Look no further than your garage, toolbox, or junk drawer. Duct tape is the answer, friend. Always has been. Always will be.

Duct tape has been around for almost a century now and has served many important purposes. Its original purpose? Duct tape was invented to help package and ship ammunition to the soldiers on the frontline during World War II. Soldiers then used it to do everything from creating makeshift bandages to repairing broken windows and tents. Post-war, it primarily became used on ventilation ducts (hence the name duct tape).

Ironically, despite serving HVAC specialists for decades, a study in the ’90s found that duct tape was actually one of the worst possible options for fixing heating and cooling ducts. Due to its low performance, it’s actually against building code in many parts of the country. Still. You’re not a true DIYer until you’ve slapped some duct tape onto a problem. Besides, duct tape went on to do other big things, too. It served another government agency after the war when it started flying aboard NASA space shuttles. As a matter of fact, duct tape saved the astronauts on the Apollo 13 space mission when they used it to create air filtration canisters in the lunar module.

So, what is duct tape? It’s actually made from layers of adhesive, fabric, and a plastic-like material. The combo makes the tape waterproof, just like a duck’s feathers — which explains why businessman Jack Kahl created a branded duct tape in 1980 under the now eponymous “Duck Tape” banner. Around that same time, the brand became the first to offer duct tape in colors other than the standard silver. From flower power patterns to mustachioed strips, duct tape now comes in bold colors and patterns for everyone’s enjoyment.

What can you do with the tape once you have it in your possession? As it turns out, quite a lot. Below you’ll find some of our favorite duct tape crafts that prove just as useful as they are fun. Grab your scissors, tape, and tiny craft-loving humans, and let’s get duct-taping.

1. Duct Tape Wallet

Duct tape wallets were the original duct tape crafts. Believe it or not, people actually pay to buy these simple accessories from other people. But if you spend all your money buying a wallet, what will you keep inside? Make your own, dude.

2. Tri-Fold Wallet

Same concept, different design. If you like a thicker wallet, the tri-fold pattern is more your speed. These instructions make it look super easy… because it is.

3. Duct Tape Folder

If you’re looking for a duct tape craft that your kid might actually use every day, look no further than a duct tape folder. The fact that this one has an old-school Mario mushroom on the cover is just icing on the cake.

4. Duct Tape Rose

Forget your anniversary? Ransack the basement or garage for your handy-dandy roll of duct tape and don’t reenter the house until you’ve crafted your partner a dozen duct tape roses. Bonus points if you get super meta about it and make your roses out of rose-patterned tape.

5. Duct Tape Hammock

The duct tape hammock is basically guaranteed to make your yard more fun — the kids will definitely be stoked to have this relaxing hangout spot. Bonus: Everyone who comes to your backyard BBQs will be wildly impressed with your skills.

6. DIY Duct Tape Batman Mask

Whether you’re ready to live out your dream of being BatDad or you want to get a head start (literally) on Halloween costumes, you can’t go wrong with a duct tape bat mask.

7. Ninja Star Made of Duct Tape

Yes, we’re suggesting you help your kid create a DIY ninja star during craft time. But listen, it’s just tape. Having said that, gently reminding your kids that you should never throw ninja stars of any kind at someone’s face probably isn’t a bad idea.

8. Duct Tape Phone Case

Would we trust this phone case on our brand new iPhone 12? Negatory. But we’d absolutely give it a whirl on the SE.

9. Zig Zag Duct Tape Bracelet

If your little accessory-obsessed kid seems leery of duct tape-themed arts and crafts time, we have just the thing to lure them in. These duct tape zigzag bracelets follow the same idea as the gum wrapper bracelets. Except, ya know, they’re made from duct tape. If hats are more your kid’s speed (or yours), you could always try making a duct tape fedora.

10. Duct Tape and Cardboard Flip-Flops

You know… in case you get truly desperate.

Duct Tape Jokes

We’ve all thought of using duct tape in situations we probably shouldn’t, which is part of what makes it so funny. We can use this industrial tool for just about anything, from fixing your kid’s pants to telling a joke.

A roll of duct tape walks into a bar. The bartender asks politely, “What can I get you?”
The duct tape looks around, thinks for a moment, and says, “I think I’ll just stick to my usual.”

Why is duct tape similar to The Force?
It has a dark side, a light side, and it binds the galaxy together.

I just made a book out of duct tape!
That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Dad Spends 6 Years and Only $60 Building 550-Foot Backyard Bobsled Track

Dad builds backyard bobsled track
(Getty/Picture Alliance)

Dads will go a long way to keep their kids entertained. I’m talking building dinosaur playgrounds, massive skate ramps, baseball fields, and epic snowmen. Amid the pandemic, they’ve stepped up their game and built graduation platforms, desks for homeschooling, desks for virtual learning, and everything in-between. Dads will even spend six years, building a bobsled hundreds of feet long, just to give their kids something to do in the winter. Wait, what? OK, let’s change that to ONE dad who will spend six years building a backyard bobsled track for his kids.

Aivis Berzins, a dad in Latvia, wanted a project to help keep his kids entertained during the winter, so he decided to DIY a huge bobsled track in his backyard. It took him SIX years to finish. But…it’s incredible.

I mean come on, you’re going to be the envy of the neighborhood with something like that in your backyard. I mean, sure, dads would have to start that when their kids were in utero for them to be able to truly enjoy it long enough to make it worth it. But this is also the type of thing a dad can enjoy by himself long after the kids leave the nest.

Reportedly, he only spent $60 on supplies, and each ride takes about one minute, and the track can reach speeds as high as 19 miles per hour, which is INSANE for a backyard attraction.

And it’s not like this is something he does for work or whatever, the guy is a sheep-shearer. He used mostly old furniture for the building materials, and said the rest was “my initiative and joy of working.’

That is truly amazing, and I will do whatever it takes to make sure my kids never see it and start begging for anything that comes even close to that. They can get a regular old plastic sled, and a giant snow-covered hill at a park and they will like it because they will not know this backyard bobsled world exists.

Go Back to Back to the Future II With This Working Hoverboard Engineers Invented

Hoverboard
(YouTube/Hacksmith Industries)

Sure, it took longer than we thought after watching Back to the Future II, but science has finally given us an honest-to-god hoverboard. Does it come with conditions? Of course. But it’s still a very cool (albeit completely pointless) invention, as it is an actual, working HOVERBOARD.

When it comes to science, we have all sorts of cool things these days we would’ve loved years ago, but we still lack some of the big inventions that feel imminent (self-driving cars everywhere) and some that we won’t probably see (flying cars). But a hoverboard once was thought to be only the province of Michael J. Fox in his prime.

And now the people behind the popular YouTube HackSmith Industries have created an actual working hoverboard. Does it catch on fire? Yes, quite frequently during testing. But they fine-tuned it, and actually made a hoverboard that works.

The tech behind it is very limiting, of course, as it’s powered by a bunch of super-powerful magnets, and it only works over a sheet of metal, so it’s not exactly road-ready. It was a mechanical engineering student who came up with the right specs to make it work, and the prototype is still very cool if you’re into engineering, sciency stuff, or just fun things in general.

So you might not be able to see one at Target, but it’s fun to see a group of people trying to make working prototypes of stuff we only see in movies (like lightsabers!).

 

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A post shared by the Hacksmith (@thehacksmith)

College Student Goes Viral for Incredible 3D-Printed Iron Man Suit

Iron Man Suit by Emily the Engineer
(TikTok/Emily.The.Engineer)

Few things are as inspiring as kids pulling off badass achievements, whether it’s a charity, athletics, or, in this case, science. A recent college graduate is blowing up on Tik Tok for creating an incredibly cool and accurate Iron Man replica suit she made with the help of a 3D printer.

Her suit is truly impressive and the video she put together about the process of making it quickly went viral, pulling down more than 60 million views. Emily Yaird told Good Morning America she posted it right before her college graduation and was overwhelmed by the views it quickly received.

@emily.the.engineeriron man update 🙂 #ironman #fyp #3dprinting #haventseen♬ Celebrate the Good Times – Mason

The suit was a labor of love, and one she did for the first time at age 14, when she put together an Iron Man suit out of Styrofoam and hot glue. When she got to college, she felt she could do better and has been trying to one-up herself ever since. This…will be hard to top. Tony Stark himself would be impressed with her creativity and engineering prowess. The suit has back flaps that open, a laser in the arm, and a helmet that closes.

Her account, Emily the Engineer, blew up after her latest video, as she now has more than 2 million followers. She told a local news station she hopes to get a job making more videos and said it’s a “blessing to be able to do something that is your hobby, for fun, and have people watch and encourage you to do it full time.” On GMA, she shared practical advice for kids interested in engineering; just start.

“Start getting your hands dirty. Build things, get your hands on tools. Making stuff like this has helped me tremendously in things like co-ops, internships and stuff like that, so I definitely recommend getting your hands on stuff and building things.”

Her videos are definitely an inspiration for younger kids and show young people are capable of far more than they get credit for.

And if anyone can appreciate the dedication to tinkering, falling to a hobby, and constantly working to make it better, it’s dads.

Everything To Know About the Mentos and Coke Experiment

Mentos and Coke
(YouTube/Power Test)

Now that we’re entering the eleventeenth month of social distancing and pandemic life, we’ve all become pretty adept at finding ways to fight off boredom. Building elaborate LEGO sets? Done it. Channeling our inner David Copperfield by learning magic tricks? Yep, that too. And thanks to the popularity of TikTok, we’ve all witnessed the rise of many new social-media-born trends over the past year. Interestingly, though, one of those social-media-born trends isn’t new at all: the decades-old Mentos and Coke experiment. It’s true — all over the internet, you can find kids and their parents recreating the same experiment that’s been done thousands of times before. By dropping some Mentos into a 2-liter of Coke, they create a man-made geyser of epic proportions.

It’s not as basic as it seems, though. There are so many variations and riffs on the experiment now. From using different kinds of carbonated drinks to different sized bottles and even trying the other Mentos flavors, there are plenty of ways to give the experiment your own spin. Why does it work? Which gives the ultimate “explosion”? And what other factors can take the experiment to new heights?

We have all the answers (and then some). So, strap on some safety goggles and show your little science nerds how it’s done. As we walk you through all the basics, be sure to watch the videos of some different takes on the experiment!

The History Behind the Experiment

The Mentos and Coke challenge didn’t even start with Mentos. In the ’80s, budding scientists would thread the Wint-O-Green Life Savers onto a pipe cleaner and then drop them into bottles of soda to create geysers. It was a popular experiment in science classes across America. And then the ’90s happened. The manufacturer of Life Savers changed their sizing, and the candies would no longer fit through the mouth of a 2-liter bottle. Never ones to accept defeat, scientists set out to find new ways to make geysers. They found their answer in mint Mentos. And the rest is history… but, also the present.

Chemical or Physical Reaction?

While many people incorrectly claim that a chemical reaction causes the minty-soda geyser, they aren’t entirely in the right. In actuality, the answer is a bit more complicated. Scientific American explains that it’s more of a physical reaction. The reaction comes from the microscopic bumps on the candy disturbing the carbon dioxide in the Coca-Cola, causing it to release the epic burst of fizziness. Diet Coke has historically created the biggest burst because it has the most CO2. It’s all aided by the shape of the bottle. Don’t quite understand? Honestly, that’s okay. We’re all here for the geyser, not the science.

Variables to Consider

As we mentioned above, Diet Coke and Mentos create the biggest geyser. However, there are plenty of other things to try. Just because we know Diet Coke will create the biggest geyser, it doesn’t mean we can’t still experiment with other soft drinks. Using the various fruity flavors of Fanta may not create giant pop volcanos, but they will produce wildly colorful ones. 

Another interesting variable to consider is altitude. Depending on where you sit above or below sea level can also impact the height of your geyser. Live near the mountains in Tennessee or Colorado, for instance? See how the experiment’s results change when you do them at the top of the mountain versus when you do it at the base.

What other ways can you alter this experiment?

Sure, the shape on the 2-liter definitely plays a big part in your geyser-making. However, it does not have to be a constant or control. How can using different shapes bottles or containers affect the outcome?

How to Perform the Experiment

Supplies you need:

  • Mentos
  • Diet Coke
  • Safety goggles

Supplies to consider:

  • More Mentos
  • Other pop flavors
  • Painter’s tape
  • Tape measure
  • Different sized vessels

How to:

Your best bet is to set up your experiment outside and in front of a wall or garage door. You can use your tape measure and painter’s tape to measure off 1- to 2-foot markings on the wall or door. Definitely mark measurements all the way up as high as you can reach.

Sit your 2-liter of Diet Coke close to the measurements, don your goggles, drop a few Mentos into the bottle, and run. Use the highest wet mark on the wall to measure the results. (If it didn’t splash on the wall, consider yourself lucky and use your kids’ best guess as to how high it reaches.) You could also set up your phone to video the drop and help keep accurate records — just keep it back far enough that it can catch the whole wall. Consider using another piece of painter’s tape to mark the Diet Coke’s peak splash.

Repeat the experiment with different types of soda or different vessels, continuing to record your results. Because, really, what else do we have to do right now? Plus, as ways to kill time go, this one’s pretty cool. 

What happens if you eat Mentos and Coke?

You may have heard that drinking Coke with Mentos will cause you to explode. But that’s not entirely true. You won’t blow up, but you will feel like an erupting volcano of discomfort. It causes you to burp and vomit profusely because the carbon dioxide in your stomach will need a way out. This provokes the puking. So, you won’t die, but it isn’t a very fun activity.

How To Make a Catapult for Kids and Earn All the Cool Dad Cred

How To Build A Catapult
(Getty/Imgorthand)

Can you think of a medieval contraption that fascinates the young brain more than a catapult? Yeah, we can’t either. Remember in the 1988 cult classic Willow when Madmartigan uses one to fling himself onto the back of a troll and save our hero? Epic. Our obsession with catapults has been building since that formative scene took root in our early adolescent memories. It seems like an organic progression that here were are, as adults, Googling “how to build a catapult” so we can teach our kids. Or, you know, at least that’s the way we’re rationalizing our compulsion to send things flying through the air.

As luck would have it, building a catapult isn’t nearly as complicated as you might think. Granted, we’re not talking about building one elaborate enough to launch yourself over castle walls during the Battle of Nockmaar, like Willow and co. But making a basic catapult is a fun and relatively easy DIY afternoon craft to do with your little Daikinis.

With that said, here are the basics of how to build a catapult — and different variations you can make.

How To Build A Catapult: Supplies

Your materials list will vary based on what type of catapult you want to create. Plus, part of the fun of building a catapult at home is using found objects around the house. The more creative, the better! Got a bunch of random LEGOs haunting your every late-night step? See if you can put them to better use. Do you keep finding arms popped off of action figures? There’s gotta be a way to incorporate those errant limbs. So, this list isn’t exhaustive, but it should get you going:

  • Rubber bands
  • Plastic cutlery
  • Popsicle/craft sticks
  • Straws
  • Paper clips
  • Clothespins
  • Chopsticks
  • Paper or plastic cups
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Pencils
  • Markers
  • Bottle caps
  • Paper
  • Bowls
  • Tape
  • Hot glue guns and sticks (only under supervised use, of course)
  • Mini-marshmallows for launching

How to Make a Catapult with a Spoon

If your engineering skills are minimal — or your kid is still honing their fine-motor skills — a spoon catapult could be your best bet. Because, well, it can’t really get much easier. For this catapult, you just need your hot glue gun, a plastic spoon, colored electrical tape, and a wooden clothespin (the vintage style may work best here).

Squeeze your hot glue into the gap of the clothespin, sliding the handle of the spoon into the hot glue. Once the glue cools with the spoon affixed in place, wrap the area of the clothespin with the spoon handle in your electrical tape. Once everything is dried and secured, pop a mini-marshmallow into the spoon, and use your finger to bend the spoon back. The clothespin acts as a fulcrum so, when you release the spoon face, the mini-marshmallow should go flying.

How to Make a Catapult with Popsicle Sticks

Another popular option for building a DIY catapult is using popsicle/craft sticks as the base. To do this, you’d make a stack of popsicle sticks and rubber band them together on each end. Next, take two more popsicle sticks and rubberband them together only at one end (you can also use spare chopsticks for this part!). Pulling the two popsicle sticks apart to create a gap, place the larger stack of popsicle sticks in the gap. Rubber band the stack of sticks to just the upper popsicle stick of the pair.

Also on the upper popsicle stick, you’ll want to rubberband a spoon — its “head” should be secured facing up and hanging off of the top of the popsicle stick. Place a mini-marshmallow into the spoon, hold the catapult with one hand, and use your other hand to pull the spoon down. Release, and watch that sucker fly!

How to Make a Catapult Out of Wood

Are we saying you should build a massive catapult in your backyard? No. Are we also saying it would be badass? Yup. Still, we aren’t going to attempt to teach you how to do something at this scale. We will, however, point you in the direction of this tutorial by I Like To Make Stuff.

Catapults Created Using Other Stuff

There are plenty of other simple, at-home versions you can try with your kids once you’ve mastered the basics. Need inspiration? You could put together a catapult using repurposed bottle caps and a scotch tape dispenser.

Or one made entirely of pencils and rubber bands…

The idea is to get creative, right? You may wind up with more than a few catapulting fails, but figuring out what works (and what doesn’t) will be half the fun.

How do you make a catapult go farther?

Your kid will love you a little extra for this one. To improve the strength of a catapult’s flinging capabilities, it needs a steady and weighted base. The sturdiness will help your objects soar. Using a bungee cord instead of rubber bands to line your machine will also help objects go the distance.

It’s important to build an arm break that stops the arm at the right angle, which in this case is an acute 45 degrees from the floor. Trust us — your mini marshmallows will get some serious air.

Dad Spends Two Years Building Epic Multi-Floor Mansion for His Three Dogs

Man builds epic dog mansion
(Facebook/Aaron Franks)

Dogs are ready and waiting to lend a helping paw at any given moment, and yet they ask for so little in return. A couple of scoops of kibble every day, a few scritches here and there – it doesn’t seem like all that fair of a trade, honestly. Maybe you try to even the score by handing out some occasional table scraps, or going to the dog park even when you’d rather stay in watching Netflix. But Aaron Franks, a father to both humans and dogs, gave back to his pups in a way we all wish we could.

In a post he shared on Facebook, Franks presented the result of two years of hard work. Think MTV Cribs, but for dogs (which is absolutely a show we need). Franks built his three dogs a freaking mansion, and it’s jam-packed with everything a dog could ever want.

In his post, Franks explains that the dogs are part of his family. That completing the dogs’ house “almost completes our home that we’ve been working on for 10 years.”

Dog Mansion
(Facebook/Aaron Franks)

Obviously, this is no ordinary dog house. The description of this bad boy – sorry, this good boy – reads like something straight out of a luxury resort pamphlet for dogs.

“It’s a 3 story play area,” Franks explains. “It has 3 entrances, it comes equipped with electricity, running water, 3 swings, in-ground pool, 2 security cameras, indoor staircase with ramp, fire hydrant, pirate ship wheel…”

Dog mansion
(Facbeook/Aaron Franks)

The dog mansion has plenty of room for lounging, food, and water, even some “rabbit escape holes” for their furry entertainment to make a safe getaway. Franks shared several pictures of his dogs’ crib, and next-level doesn’t even begin to cover it. The dogs are pictured lounging poolside (!), clearly enjoying the fruits of their talented human’s labor.

Dog mansion
(Facebook/Aaron Franks)

Franks’ post has been shared over 250,000 times, with dog lovers around the world pawsing to stare in complete and total awe. If this is what “being in the dog house” means, please sign me up.

Tim and Al Having Tool Time Reunion on New Game Show “Assembly Required”

Tim and Al: Assembly Required
(YouTube/History)

In this age of revivals, sitcoms have not been immune.

One Day at a Time was revived with a modern spin, Full House came back and felt exactly the same (that’s not a compliment), Roseanne came back and then was forced to switch things up, and even Who’s The Boss has a return percolating.

One classic 90s sitcom that has yet to sniff a remake is Home Improvement, starring Tim Allen as a family man and incompetent DIY-er Tim “The Toolman” Taylor. Tim’s job on the show was as the host of Tool Time, a Bob Vila style home improvement show (get it?), which he co-hosted with his sidekick Al (Richard Karn), who was not-so-secretly the far more competent of the two.

Now Home Improvement may not be coming back, but that doesn’t mean Tim and Al aren’t! In fact, the co-stars are reuniting for a show on The History Channel called Assembly Required. It’s a 10-episode competition show that features some of the best makers from across the country competing to outdo each other.

The reunion is special to the two former co-stars, and Allen expressed as much.

“They say a longtime friend is someone who responds with, ‘This is by far your worst idea ever’… Fortunately, this was a great idea working with Richard. I loved those days doing ‘Tool Time.’ We both share a great appreciation of people who can solve a problem not by talking about it, but by ‘doing’ it with creativity and amazing building skills. Plus it gives me more time to make fun of his fake beard.”

Clearly, their relationship hasn’t missed a beat. Check out the trailer for “Assembly Required,” which premieres on The History Channel on February 23rd: