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Sound Science with a String and a Hanger

In this family STEM activity, students explore how sound waves travel. Do some materials transmit sound better than others?

Sound Science with a String and a Hanger / Weekly STEM Activity

What Sound Does a Hanger Make?

A pair of walkie talkies made with metal cans (or paper cups) and string can be surprisingly effective in transmitting sound across a long distance—more effective than just talking to someone across the same distance. But why? What do homemade walkie talkies do to sound?

In this family science activity, students use simple materials to explore the way sound waves move through different materials. Using a hanger, string, and a spoon, kids experiment to see what sounds are produced when tapping the hanger in different ways. What sound is produced just by tapping directly on the hanger? Does the sound change if you hold the hanger by the strings? What happens if you hold the hanger by the strings and press your fingers to your ears and have someone else tap the hanger with the spoon?

Get your listening ears ready and get hands on with the science of sound this week!

The following Science Buddies activity on the Scientific American website has all the information you need to do this science activity with your students at home: Hanging Around with Sound: Make Your Own Secret Bell!.

Making Connections

Students interested in science questions related to this week's family science activity or to other sound-oriented experiments, may also enjoy the following hands-on science project ideas and activities:

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Free science fair projects.