While everyone else is paying attention to what they see, maybe you're focusing on what you can hear. Explore the physics of sound, musical instruments, and even how people respond when they hear music.

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Did you know that the modern guitar is an instrument that dates back over 4,000 years? The first guitar music was published in 1546, during a time when guitars still had strings made from animal intestines! While guitars have a long history, they are still extremely popular in modern day music. Have you ever wondered how they make the music you listen to everyday? In this activity we're going to make our own guitars, and experiment with the different sounds we can create. Read more
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Can you name the bestselling musical instrument in the world? If you said harmonica, you are right! The harmonica was said to be patented in 1821 by Christian Buschmann, a 16-year-old German boy. Since then, it has become the top-selling instrument in the world and a household item in many places. Luckily, creating beautiful noise is not just an art—it is also a science! In this activity, you will design and explore your own harmonica-like instrument made from household items. Time to… Read more
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Have you ever wondered how a musical instrument produces the beautiful sounds that it does? To make a certain note, the instrument has to make a certain sound wave. Depending on the instrument, the sound wave that is made can be affected by changing the length of part of the instrument, such as the strings in a piano or on a guitar, or a trombone’s air column. In this science activity, you will make your own musical instruments using drinking straws and explore how changing the length of the… Read more
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Have you ever blown across a bottle's top and made a pleasant, resonant sound? If so, have you wondered how that note is made exactly? The exact note you hear depends on the resonant frequency of the air in the bottle. Musical instruments like ocarinas operate based on a similar principle. In this science activity, you will use bottles to investigate how the volume of the air in the bottle affects the pitch of the note that it makes. Read more
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Do you enjoy getting together with family and friends to sing familiar holiday songs? It can be fun to do this time of year, gathered around a piano with a warm fireplace nearby, or bundled up together outside. Have you ever wondered what the highest note is that you can sing? How about the lowest? Or what about other people – do you think males and females can reach the same notes? How about children and adults? In this “note”-worth science activity, you’ll get to… Read more
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Have you ever heard of an “eardrum”? If the answer is yes, then you probably know that your eardrum is an essential part of your ear, allowing you to hear the world around you. But why do we call it a drum? It turns out that calling it a drum is a very accurate description of what your eardrum looks like, and what it does inside your ear. To understand how your eardrum works, imagine using a drumstick to bang on a real drum, and then touching the drum with your hand. When you do… Read more
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Have you ever been on a swing set and suddenly noticed that the person on the swing next to you seems to be swinging almost exactly in time with you? You go up and down at either the same time, or exactly opposite each other. This might seem random – but it’s actually physics! Like many things in nature, swing sets have a ‘resonant frequency’, which means that they have a ‘favorite’ frequency (or speed) of movement. The swing set will naturally want to swing… Read more
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Is Thanksgiving one of your favorite holidays of the year? All your friends and family are getting together to celebrate. The table is full of delicious food—a big feast—and there might even be some fancy China and glassware on the table to make the celebration even more special. Who can resist the temptation to make the wine glasses sing? You have probably done this many times before, but have you ever wondered, why the wine glass makes this sound? Do this activity, and you will… Read more
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Do you enjoy watching scary movies at Halloween, or going to haunted houses? However you may want to have a thrilling experience this time of year, spooky sounds and music will likely play an important part. Part of what makes a haunted house or a mysterious movie perfectly eerie is the soundtrack that goes along with it – all the noises orchestrated to raise the hair on your arms, make you shiver, and leave you with little doubt that there are things unknown lurking about. In this… Read more
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