Sound Science: Craft Stick Kazoos

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.

Materials needed:

  • Jumbo Craft Sticks
  • Large Rubber Bands
  • Small Rubber Bands
  • Straws
  • Scissors

Steps:

  1. Start with a large craft stick and a large rubber band. Wrap the rubber band from end to end on the craft stick.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Photo 1

Photo 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Sources:

Pumpkin STEM

Early exposure to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics has been proven to better equip children in understanding STEM concepts.  Fun, hands-on learning, through age-appropriate material can inspire enthusiasm and confidence while developing STEM skills and encouraging future interest.  The Big Book of 4-H Cloverbud Activities (available through OSU Extension Offices or https://extensionpubs.osu.edu) is bursting with activities to explore STEM education.  Add a twist for the fall by incorporating pumpkin-themed activities as described below.

Pumpkin Science

Prior to this activity, cut a medium size pumpkin in half.  Remove the seeds and gooey fibrous strands from one-half.  Separate the seeds from the strands.  Wash the seeds and allow them to dry on a paper towel.  Place the fibrous strands in a container.  Have the children look at the other half of the pumpkin.  Explain that a pumpkin is a squash.  Talk about the parts of the pumpkin.  Bring out the container of fibrous strands.  Place one-half cup of the substance in a blender.  Add one cup of water.  Blend the mixture until it becomes a liquid.  Following the Flubber recipe in The Wonder of Water lesson, substitute ¼ cup of the pumpkin mixture for ¼ cup of cool water.  Use 2-3 drops of red or orange food coloring instead of drink mix.  Extend this activity by using the seeds that were set aside to make a Seed Mosaic as described in the Super Seed Fun lesson.

Pumpkin Technology

Children can “go beyond” this lesson at home by working with their parents to color a pumpkin online at https://www.thecolor.com/Coloring/Pumpkin.aspx or carve a pumpkin at http://www.primarygames.com/holidays/halloween/games/carving/

Pumpkin Engineering

Discuss fruits and vegetables that are harvested in the fall in Ohio (Fall Festival: A Harvest of Fun lesson). Talk about or visit a local pumpkin patch.  Play a pumpkin patch game.  Build a pumpkin catapult using a plastic cup, sturdy tape, and a plastic spoon.  Turn the cup over.  Tape the spoon handle to the bottom of the cup.  Place an orange pom-pom into the bowl of the spoon.  Set a pan a few inches away to serve as the pumpkin patch.  Press on the spoon bowl.  Watch the “pumpkin” soar into the pumpkin patch.

Pumpkin Math

Choose three different size pumpkins.  Discuss ways the pumpkins are alike or different.  Have the children stand first in front of the largest, then smallest, and last the medium size pumpkin.  Ask them which pumpkin they think weighs the most.  Talk about tools that can be used to measure the height, width (circumference), and weight of the pumpkins.  Help the children use a ruler, measuring tape, and scale to determine the measurements.

Conclude this celebration of Pumpkin S.T.E.M. bounty with a pumpkin themed book from your local library and a tasty pumpkin seed snack.