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Make chicken sounds with a cup – sound (air vibrations) science experiment for kids

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Long, long ago, instead of mice and monkeys, Geek Slop used chickens for all of his experiments (Geek Slop switched to lab rats and monkeys when one of his chicken experiments went terribly wrong). Chickens proved to be perfect for scientific exploration! They didn’t each much, they were easy to find, and when you were done with them, well, we all know that chicken soup is good for your health (unless, of course, you are the chicken). In fact, the only difficult thing Geek Slop found when using chickens for science experiments was catching them but even that Geek Slop solved with science. In this experiment, we’ll use a cup, a piece of string, and a paperclip to make a chicken caller.

Oh, and if you’re wondering about the chicken experiment that went awry. Well, it was an advanced genetic experiment in which Geek Slop attempted to improve the aerodynamics of the chicken to improve their flight efficiency. Geek Slop confused some numbers in his calculations and the chicken accidentally grew its feathers in backwards. The poor thing tickled itself to death and Geek Slop was so grief stricken he vowed to never use chickens for scientific experimentation ever again.

  1. Cut off a piece of string about as long as your arm
  2. Use a pencil to punch a small hole in the center of the bottom of the cup
  3. Tie a paperclip to one end of string
  4. Thread the string through the inside of the cup. The paperclip will keep the string from pulling completely through the hole in the cup.
  5. Take the paper towel and fold it in half a few times to make it a bit thicker.
  6. Wet the paper towel with water
  7. Lay some newspaper on the floor in case any chickens that show up are not house broken
  8. Hold the cup in one hand and wrap the wet paper towel around the string. Slowly slide the paper towel down the string in short, jerky motions. Make sure you grip the paper towel tight enough so the string is stretched out.
  9. Bawk, bawk, chicken!

Sound is nothing more than vibrations in the air which our ears pick up and our brain interprets as sound. As you move the towel down the string, it sticks and causes the string to vibrate. Without the cup you would not be able to hear the vibrations of the string. The cup amplifies the sound of the vibrating string. Try using different lengths of strings and a different size cup to change the tone and volume of the sound.

Parent/Teacher/Advanced Notes

Pianos use a similar construction to amplify the vibrations of the piano strings. Likewise, acoustic guitars use the hollow wooden body of the guitar to amplify the vibration of the guitar strings as they are strummed.

Experiment Supplies

Supplies: Plastic cup, String, Paper towels, Paper clip

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