Create “Perfect” Circles

This project is inspired by CLASSIFIED: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer. Have you heard of the iconic Mary Golda Ross? She started as an enthusiastic scholar and grew to become an advocate for native women growing into STEM careers. The best part is she's really good at her job as an engineer at the top-secret Skunk Works division of Lockheed!
Find this book at reDiscover's Chill Zone and learn more about Mary Golda Ross on your next visit to reDiscover Center. Written by @tracisorell; illustrated by Natasha Donovan.
In this book, we learned that some of Mary Golda Ross's state-of-the-art tools were a precision compass, air/spacecraft blueprints, pencils, and triangles.
There's a misconception that we need the most expensive, up-to-date technology to come up with brilliant new ideas and creative inventions, but we don't always need to buy the newest tools to accomplish these tasks. We really can use just about whatever is around us. This is especially true when we're trying to draw and make "the perfect circle."
Circles are a universal shape, and super useful in engineering, particularly for anything that turns like pulleys, wheels, jar lids, or knobs. We are surrounded by circular objects every day! All over our living spaces, at school, at stores--everywhere. And yet, when we draw circles on cardboard to cut it out, too often we insist on doing it free-hand. Let me tell you, drawing a free-hand circle is hard.
Utilize circles around you to mark and cut out round cardboard forms you can use as wheels! In this activity, we utilize wheels to create prototype space rovers that would collect data for use on other planets in outer space. Start a collection of circles large and small to inspire your next moving invention. Stay tuned for a future Activity Guide on making your own compass to make circles of any size.

STEP 1 - Gather Your Materials


  • Something round
  • Scissors
  • Tape (Any kind works. We used packing tape and artist tape)
  • Markers
  • Screwdriver
  • Canary Cutter
  • Hot Glue (optional)

Making Materials

For this project, I took a handful of creative reuse materials I could find at home. Make sure to check with an adult if it's okay to use before hot gluing it onto art projects.

  • Any creative reuse materials you can think of (plastic reuse materials, beads, buttons, mylar)
  • Cardboard or paper board
  • Skewers

STEP 2 - Trace circles from a round object

Out of the round objects in our surroundings, we can see that we have a few differing sizes. Take the round objects that you gathered and trace them onto cardboard.

Using the canary cutter and scissors, cut your cardboard pieces. Use the screwdriver to poke a hole and cut the inside circle out with a canary cutter.

Try drawing and cutting out circles of multiple sizes. Are bigger circles easier or harder than smaller ones?


  • Use your canary cutter to quickly cut a little outside your circle, like a square or hexagon, then use your scissors to trim the little bits from the edge of the circle without bending the cardboard.
  • If you put a smaller circle in between two bigger circles, you have more stable, thicker wheels. Try using this circle sandwich as a pulley!
  • Use a screwdriver to poke holes in between to line the wheels up and hold them as you glue them together.
  • Replace the screwdriver with skewers to create axles.
  • You can use the roll of tape from the Tinkering Toolkit to trace circles out.

We learned another technique for making perfect circles that involves creating your own compass, which we will happily share with you. Stay tuned and subscribe to our Youtube Channel to be notified of when we share this new Tiny Technique.

STEP 3 - Design a Planet Rover

  • If you would design a Planet Rover, what would it look like?
  • What planet would you send it to?
  • What kind of data would it collect?

Let's get creative! Here are a few designs from your facilitators at reDiscover Center.

Activity Guide by Hanabee Cartagena, with techniques and creations from Yeltsin Penado.


For any tips on how to use specific tools safely, visit our Youtube library for Tiny Techniques. 

Check out this video on how to poke a hole in materials using a screwdriver.


Visit the Techniques tab in reDiscover Center's Pedagogy Resources  for more activity guides, access our Tiny Techniques videos, and get tips for working safely and efficiently with tools.

Once you have finished your character, share them with friends and family and show them how you take care of yourself, by filling the void in your life in healthy ways! If you want to share a picture on social media, make sure to tag @reDiscoverCtr. We love to see what you make!

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