Good Vibrations: The Science of Sound
What is Sound?
Sound is a type of energy made by a vibrating object which causes movement. This vibration creates sound waves that travel much like ripples in water when you throw a rock into a pond. Sound waves can move through matter such as air, water, or other materials.
Our ears collect the vibrations and pass them down the ear canal to the eardrum. The eardrum vibrates like the head of a drum. Other small bones in the ear continue the vibrations until they reach the inner ear, where they are changed to signals that are sent to the brain.
Do you know how to hum? Practice humming with a sibling or caregiver. A kazoo is an instrument that helps make a humming sound louder by making more vibrations. Create your own kazoo and explore the science of sound!
Wax paper (large enough to cover one end of cardboard tube)
6” or 12” cardboard tube
(paper towel or toilet tissue)
Paint, markers or crayons for decorating (optional)
Scissors (anything sharp enough to make a hole in the tube)
Making the Kazoo
Place the wax paper over one end of the cardboard tube.
Use the rubber band to hold the wax paper in place over the end of the tube.
Create a small hole in the cardboard tube about 1/4 of the way from the covered end.
Decorate your kazoo if desired.
Hum into the open end of the kazoo. Hum a familiar tune or make up your own.
Talk with your family, siblings, friends, etc about this experiment.
- What was the coolest part of the experiment? Why?
- Does your humming noise sound different when you use a kazoo?
- What is vibrating on your kazoo?
- Do you think changing the length of the kazoo would change the sound? Try it.
- Poke more holes in the sides of your kazoo. Does covering the holes change the sounds you make?
- Try changing the material you cover your tube with (saran wrap, aluminum foil, or parchment paper for instance.) Do any other materials work better? Why or why not?
The Science of Sound From Science Made Simple
What is Sound? YouTube video
Sound for Kids – Sound Waves and Vibrations YouTube video
Learn About Sound – Nat Geo Kids Sound Playlist
Explore different animal sounds and how they rely on sound waves to communicate.
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This work is supported by the CYFAR grant no. 2017-46100-27224, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and should not be construed to represent any official USDA or U.S. Government determination or policy.