Every year my daughter's school participates in Science Olympiad which is a national structured type of science fair. It's pretty neat. Parents volunteer to 'coach' a team that has a specific project to complete then compete against their peers from other schools. My first year we built Wright Bros-like balsa wood, rubber band powered airplanes. My second year we made helicopters. This year is the best yet, I get to coach "Sounds of Music."
...teams will design and build 2 musical instruments based on a 12 tone tempered scale. These may be based on real instruments (a drum, flute etc), or something completely made up (think blue man group). At the tournament teams will describe the principles behind their operation and perform a major scale, a required melody (Theme Movement #2 New World Symphony) and a chosen melody. For 2013 teams must build two instruments of any type.
The kids get to choose the instruments but I sure hope one of them picks a cigar box guitar. Everything on the instrument has to be made from something, even guitar straps and tuning machines have to be made, cannot be store bought. Should be fun.
wormil, you might like to check this video out then fella:
I really like that oil drum cello. One of our kids plays the cello but I doubt we'll have enough time to make that although I'd love to try.
Update: We had our first meeting and only one of the two kids showed, he decided to make a xylophone which was the one instrument I had hoped they wouldn't choose because I know the least about them. Oh well. The other kid plays a cello so I'm hoping to steer him toward a string instrument, maybe a cb violin or psaltery though the latter may be too much work since I can't use premade zither pins.
Update2: The 2nd kid chose to make a 2 string cello-like (he plays cello) instrument. His mom rejected using a cigar box in favor of a big wooden hollow book. The hollow book is pretty large and looks awesome but it's paper covered pressboard & wood so it will be probably sound dull. He doesn't want frets since he used to playing without them. So far we have an oak neck, hollow book body and next week we work on adding strings and tuning pegs.
I'll start posting pics of this stuff soon.