We often think of science and the arts as being on opposite ends of the subject matter spectrum. In reality, the two are much more connected than many of us realize. Music is a prime example of this concept. It is possible to enjoy the beautiful music that is produced by an instrument, while at the same time having an appreciation for the mechanics that make the music possible.
In this activity, Cloverbuds will construct a kazoo, learn to produce sound, and investigate how a musical instrument works.
- Jumbo Craft Sticks
- Large Rubber Bands
- Small Rubber Bands
- Start with a large craft stick and a large rubber band. Wrap the rubber band from end to end on the craft stick.
- Cut two pieces from the straw approximately 1 inch long. Place one piece of straw under the rubber band about 1 inch from the end of the craft stick. Place the other piece of straw on the opposite end of the craft stick on top of the rubber band. See Photo 1.
- Place another craft stick on top of the first, sandwiching the straws in between. Fasten each end of the craft sticks together with the small rubber bands. See Photo 2.
- Put the edge of the kazoo up to your lips and blow. Experiment with different positions and blowing at different strengths to see what happens.
After the Cloverbuds have finished making their kazoos, ask questions. Why do they think the kazoo makes a sound? What would happen if the straws were closer together or farther apart? What if the straws were bigger? If time permits, let them experiment to see if their guesses are correct.
Kazoos work on the same principle as most woodwind instruments. The musician blows air into the instrument, which causes vibration of a membrane or reed (or in this case, a rubber band). The vibration inside the instrument then produces sound. Kazoos do not have buttons or valves like other instruments, so the player must use their voice to change the pitch of the sound produced.
Once your Cloverbuds have learned to play their kazoos, see if they can play a song. You can have them perform for their parents or other club members. Science and art- a beautiful combination!
- Graves, C., & Graves, A. (2017). The big book of makerspace projects: Inspiring makers to experiment, create, and learn. McGraw Hill Education.
- Harman, M. (2014). The Kazoo- A Surprisingly Beneficial Instrument. Early Childhood Movement & Music Association. www.ecmma.org/blog/ecmma_guest/the_kazoo_a_surprisingly_beneficial_instrument