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Build a Paper Speaker

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1 buddy review
by Ben Finio, PhD
Active Time
30-45 minutes
Total Project Time
30-45 minutes
Key Concepts
Electricity, magnetism, vibration, sound
paper speaker from paper plate

Introduction

Do you like music? You have probably listened to music using speakers or headphones connected to a computer or other electronic device like a tablet, smartphone, or mp3 player. But how does a song stored on your iPod® or streaming from the internet get converted to sounds that your ears can hear? You need a speaker to create the sounds. Some devices, like phones, have built-in speakers; others, like computers, have external speakers that you plug in. In this project, you will build (and decorate!) your own speaker out of household materials like a paper plate. This will let you see how a speaker works and discover where your music comes from!

Credits

Ben Finio, PhD, Science Buddies
  • iPod® is a registered trademark of Apple Inc.
This activity is not appropriate for use as a science fair project. Good science fair projects have a stronger focus on controlling variables, taking accurate measurements, and analyzing data. To find a science fair project that is just right for you, browse our library of over 1,150 Science Fair Project Ideas or use the Topic Selection Wizard to get a personalized project recommendation.

Materials

  • Neodymium magnets, also called rare earth magnets, 12 mm x 3 mm each (6 pack).
    • Note: You can also use a single larger neodymium magnet instead of a stack of smaller magnets. Regular "refrigerator" magnets (or "ceramic") magnets will not be strong enough for this project.
  • Magnet wire (one spool of 30 gauge wire)
  • Alligator clip leads (2 pack)
  • 3.5 mm stereo cable (male plug on one end, three exposed wires on the other end)
  • Computer, tablet, smartphone, or mp3 player with a 3.5 mm stereo jack (this is a regular "headphone" jack) and the ability to play music (from song files stored on the device or from a streaming music service)
  • Scissors
  • Clear tape
  • Paper, plastic, or foam plate, bowl, or cup. You will have enough wire to make multiple speakers, so you can try several different materials.
  • Small piece of fine-grit sandpaper
  • Optional: Drawing tools (markers, crayons, etcetera) for decorating your speaker

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Active Time
30-45 minutes
Total Project Time
30-45 minutes
Key Concepts
Electricity, magnetism, vibration, sound