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Make music with a tin can and a string

Suitable For

Grade 5



Time Required

 <1 Hour



What’s it about?

A tin can howler is a very popular toy with which one can have a lot of fun with! The same scientific principles are used to make this toy work, than is used to make many other musical instruments. In this science experiment we will make our own tin can howler to learn more about sound and sound waves:

Topics covered

Sound conductor, Amplify, Sound resonance

What will I need?

  • 60cm STRING
  • NAIL

Procedure (Method)

Unfortunately, this section is only available in the e-book version of the project.

How does it work?

Unfortunately, this section is only available in the e-book version of the project.

Sound waves are created by vibrations or back and forth movements in the air or other materials. In this science experiment, the sound is caused by the movement of the string. The solid string is a better conductor of sound than air.

Sound waves travel better in denser materials, and since we are using a piece of string which is denser than air, the sound waves travel better through the string to the tin can (which act as a cavity that helps to amplify the sound). A cavity helps to ‘amplify’ the sound, because sound waves inside the cavity hit the walls of the container, bounce back, and reinforce each other. This process of enriching sound with added vibrations is called ‘resonance’.

Like the sound of it?

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This particular science project can be found in any of the following Experiland e-books:

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