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Harmonicas (Virtual kit drop-off)

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Physics Volunteer Activities
Main Image
Physics Volunteer Activities
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Time Needed for Activity

Students will build a makeshift harmonica out of paper, popsicle sticks and toothpicks.

By blowing on the edge of your harmonica, it makes a buzz which you can alter its pitch by squeezing your lips.

What You Need

For each child:

  • 2 popsicle sticks  

  • 1 small piece of paper 

  • 2 elastics 

  • 2 pieces of toothpick

Instructions:

Safety Notes

Do not poke anything with the toothpicks.

What To Do

  1. Cut a piece of paper that is the same length and size of the popsicle stick 
  2. Put down the piece of paper on top of a popsicle stick  
  3. Put a piece of toothpick on top of the paper on one side 
  4. Place the second popsicle stick on top  
  5. Wrap a rubber band on the side with the toothpick 
  6. Put a second piece of toothpick on the opposite side of the paper 
  7. Wrap a rubber band around the second toothpick  
  8. Put your mouth lightly on the edge of the sticks - blow fast and you will hear a loud buzz. You can change the pitch of the sound depending on how much you squeeze your lips on the sticks.

Discovery

What's Happening?

We can hear sounds because they are vibrations that travel and reach our ears. When you blow into the harmonica you made, you are making the piece of paper that is in between the  popsicle sticks vibrate very fast - which is causing the buzzing sound you are hearing! When the sticks are closer together, the paper vibrates faster and creates a higher pitched sound. If the sticks are a bit further apart, the paper is vibrating slower and creates a lower pitched sound.

Cool Fact 

Do you know how you make noise to sing or talk? It's because your vocal cords are vibrating!  We can change the pitch or loudness of the sounds we make by letting more or less air from our lungs push past the vocal cords and also with our tongue and mouth to make specific sounds!

What's Happening?

We can hear sounds because they are vibrations that travel and reach our ears. When you blow into the harmonica you made, you are making the piece of paper that is in between the  popsicle sticks vibrate very fast - which is causing the buzzing sound you are hearing! When the sticks are closer together, the paper vibrates faster and creates a higher pitched sound. If the sticks are a bit further apart, the paper is vibrating slower and creates a lower pitched sound.

Cool Fact 

Do you know how you make noise to sing or talk? It's because your vocal cords are vibrating!  We can change the pitch or loudness of the sounds we make by letting more or less air from our lungs push past the vocal cords and also with our tongue and mouth to make specific sounds!

Resources

Instructions:

Resources

Instructions: