Science in Music

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The first two weeks of classes have been exciting!  We have been observing how sound waves work.  All of our activities can be done at home with few materials but provide hours of learning and fun!  The summer learning programs offer opportunities for the participants to explore the topic at hand through open ended projects.

Dancing Oobleck – Oobleck is a non-Newtonian fluid which is a fancy way of saying it sometimes acts as a liquid and sometimes as a solid.  The basic recipe is 2 parts cornstarch to 1 part water.  Mix well.  What do you notice about the oobleck?  If you hit it, it acts as a solid.  You can even walk on it.  If you pick up a spoon it will drip and if you set your hand on it, your hand will sink into the goopiness.  With the right speaker and sounds in the 60hz range, you can even make it dance.  Check out some of the videos on Youtube.

Water Xylophone – The kids loved this activity!  Miss Albany filled up six glasses with different amounts of water and lined them up.  The kids took turns striking the glasses with a paint stick to see what they sounded like.  The more water in the glass, the lower the tone.  She had tuned her glasses to the musical scale so that everyone could play a song!  Of course, we had to try the same thing with plastic cups and see what the differences were.  All you need is several jars, bottles, or glasses, water, and pencils, chopsticks, or something to strike the containers with.  Add food coloring to the different jars to make it more colorful!

Telephones – One of the most low tech projects was also one of the most amazing!  We made telephones, old school!  Each participant got two paper cups, a length of string, and two paper clips.  None of them could believe that their voices could travel down the string so that the other person could hear them.  Of course, the string needed to be fairly taut for the phone to work.  It’s always great to see kids unplugged!

Chicken Cups – This one is tons of fun to do and there are, of course, variations on the project.  We took small plastic cups (like Solo cups) and poked a hole in the bottom.  Then we threaded a length of cotton yarn through the hole and tied a knot around a paper clip on the outside of the cup with the string hanging down from the inside.  If you give quick, short tugs on the string, it sounds like a chicken clucking.  If you take a wet paper towel and pull on the string, it makes quite a sound!  Try it with the string on the outside of the cup and see what it sounds like.

Screaming Balloons – How do you get a balloon to scream?  Blow it up with a hex nut in it.  Grab the bottom of the balloon and rotate it so the hex nut runs its course around the inside surface of the balloon and listen to the interesting sound it makes.  We tried it with pony beads but didn’t get the same results.

Straw Oboes – Another easy activity with lots of possibilities.  Cut one end of a soda straw into a point by cutting both sides at an angle.  The points act as a reed.  Blow through the straw and listen to the cool sounds.  What if you cut tiny holes in the straw…could you play a song?

If you want more information about any of the projects we are doing at the library, call or stop by for more information about our summer learning programs!

During the next two weeks, we will be learning about and making different types of musical instruments!  Stay tuned for all the details.