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Science Experiment: Sound Vibrations and a Kazoo

Hi kids, parents, and teachers! Science projects and experiments can be fun. However, be sure to always have a parent or teacher supervising to make sure things are safe!

Purpose: To demonstrate the physics of sound such as vibrations by making a kazoo. To learn more about sound see Sound for Kids.

Materials Procedure
  1. Cut a small square of wax paper about one inch larger than the opening of the cardboard tube.
  2. Wrap the wax paper over one end of the tube and secure it with a rubber band.
  3. Put the open end of the kazoo up to your mouth and hum a tune into it.
  4. What happens?
  5. Why does your voice sound different?
  6. How does the loudness of your voice increase?
  7. Experiment with different songs and degrees of loudness.
Background

The sound of your voice seems to be made louder by humming into the kazoo because the kazoo vibrates with the sound of your voice. Your voice is a complex sound wave that contains a lot of different sounds all put together so that they sound like one sound. Scientists call the different sounds harmonics, and all those harmonics together are what make your voice sound different from someone else's. As your voice travels down the cardboard tube and reaches the wax paper, the wax paper vibrates and gets amplified (made louder). Not all the harmonics are amplified the same, so the kazoo actually changes the way your voice really sounds. When you hum into the kazoo, you get a completely different sound.

People have created many more sounds. Some of these sounds are called music, and music is created in lots of different ways. Many hundreds of years ago, people found that certain objects, such as metal wire, when plucked, produced a very pleasing sound. Over the years, people have created many musical instruments from that very simple sound.

Extension

Conduct a research activity to discover the origin of instruments.

Reference: NASA SciFiles

More Sound Experiments:
Sound Pitch - Learn how frequency effects sound and pitch.
Sound Waves - See how sound waves propagate.

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