Extreme Science: Penny Shine

What you will need:

  • Supplies (can be found at Hobby Lobby)
  • (3) Small wood stars (Hobby Lobby)
  • (1) Dowel (6” X 5/16”)
  • (5) Wooden craft sticks
  • (12) 3/8” Wood blocks

Tools needed

  • Drill
  • Drill bits
  • Sandpaper
  • Wood glue
  • Clamps

And, as always...

  • Adult supervision


  1. Find 3 wooden stars that are similar in shape and size.  Carefully glue them together with wood glue.  Clamp and let dry.
  2. Have your parents help you to drill a hole in the center of your (3) stars.  The size of the drill bit used will be determined by the size of wooden dowel you choose.  I used a 5/16 dowel for mine but this is not critical – as long as you choose the correct drill bit so that the dowel will fit snugly into this hole. 
  3. Insert a 6” long dowel into the hole in the stars.  Add a small amount of wood glue to permanently hold this in place.  The dowel should be inserted so that it sticks out the end approximately ½”.  Let dry
  4. Glue two sets (of two craft sticks each) together as shown.
  5. Have your parents carefully drill a hole approximately 1” from the end of both (sets) craft sticks from step 4. This hole should be just slightly larger than your dowel.  You may find that you will have to drill the craft sticks very slowly to prevent them from splitting
  6. Glue three set (of four each) 3/8” blocks together as shown.  Let dry.
  7. Carefully cut both rounded ends off of a craft stick leaving anywhere from 2 1/2 – 4” of length as shown.  This piece will be used in the center of your clicker toy.  The length of this piece will determine how hard (or easy) it is to rotate the “clicker” as well as the tone and volume of your clicker toy.  The longer it is, the easier it will be to rotate and the quieter it will be.  A shorter center stick will be much louder but it will take more effort to turn or twist the toy.
  8. Glue two (sets of 4) blocks to one end of the craft stick you just cut in step 7 as shown.  Clamp and let dry.  After the glue has dried, wrap the exposed portion of the craft stick with one layer of duct tape
  9. Now it is time to begin assembling all of your pieces that you have made so far. 
    Insert your dowel with the stars into the holes in your craft sticks as shown.
  10. Place your blocks with your center stick between the two craft sticks as shown making sure that the end of your center stick is approximately 1/8” from the inside corners of your star pattern.  Glue and clamp this in place making sure that the ends of your sticks are even and the dowel is at a 90 degree angle as shown.  Glue the remaining set of 4 blocks between the other end of your craft sticks as shown.  Be careful not to disturb the other end that you just glued.  If you have difficulty with everything wanting to move, you can wait until the glue from the previous blocks is dry before gluing this last block in place.  Clamp and let dry.
  11. Sand the blocks at each end so that they are smooth and even with the ends of the craft sticks.

What is going on?

As you spin the dowel, the center craft stick is pushed out by the wood star shaped piece until it reaches it is suddenly released causing it to snap back onto the next star point causing a “clicking” sound.  The longer you make the center craft stick, the easier it will be to rotate due to decreased tension.  Unfortunately, this will create a softer click as the stick will not hit the next point on the star with as much force.  By making the center craft stick shorter, the tension will be increased causing the stick to hit the star with much more force and a much louder click.  Of course, it will take more force to rotate the dowel with a shorter center stick and increased tension.

Try this:

Try making several different sizes with various lengths of center sticks to see what different sounds you can create as well as being able to feel the difference in the tension that is created.

Radical Rick

Extreme Science