The straw sound activity makes drinking straws into musical instruments. The explanation for how it works uses physics and music.
Safety note: Be sure to explain safety precautions to children. The straw sound activity experiment uses scissors. Disclaimer: All information provided on this site is for entertainment and education purposes only. Using any information from thecasabouquet.com is at your own risk.
Instructions for straw sound activity
- Find a large plastic drinking straw. Blow into it to see if you can make a sound. Try putting your lips in different orientations or blowing over the opening.
- Flatten one end of the straw with your lips or teeth. Use scissors to cut two diagonals, forming a “reed”. The end of the straw should look like clarinet or other wind instrument.
- Press your lips on the reed and blow air through the straw. What does it sound like?
- Carefully hold scissors at a right angle to the bottom of the straw. While blowing, nip off about a half inch at a time. What happens to the sound the straw makes? (this might be easier to do with two people!).
What questions can you answer with the straw sound activity? What musical instruments work like this? How could you make straws with exact musical notes? What measurements would you need? Will it only work with plastic straws? How could you make the straws louder?
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- Large plastic straw
- Optional: card stock or construction paper, adhesive tape, small kitchen funnel, small diameter straws, slinky
Tip: Many fast food places supply a large diameter straw.
What is the science?
Content: sound, waves, frequency, resonance, standing wave
Blowing through the “reed” on the straw causes a sound wave to go back and forth inside the tube of the straw. Cutting the straw changes the size of the wave that will make a different sound. Each note you hear from the straw represents a different frequency.
- Homemade straw flute from Finding Zest
- Waves in a Slinky from Appalachian State University
- Make a straw trombone and trumpet from Steven Dufresne at rimstar.org
I’ll be looking for comments below, or contact me at lisa [at] thecasabouquet[dot]com.