Tune Up Your Rubber Band Guitar
How do vibrating objects create sound waves?
Hosted by: 3M
Visit our Booth: Saturday, February 27, 2021, 12 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Recommended Grade: K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th
- An adult helper
- Four rubber bands of varying thickness but the same length
- Packing tape (or other strong tape)
- Empty tissue box
- Two large craft sticks
- Empty paper towel tube
Sounds travel to our ears as sound waves – vibrations in the air we perceive as sound. These waves are generated by the vibration or movement of an object in a medium. They most commonly reach us by traveling via the air, although they can pass through liquids and solids – that’s why you can hear things underwater or if you press your ear up against a wall. A vibrating object, such as a tuning fork, generates a sound wave. The fork’s vibrations cause the air particles around it to vibrate at the same frequency. These air particles bump into the air particles around them, and the sound wave propagates outward from the tuning fork.
When a guitarist plucks a guitar string it vibrates at a specific frequency, which determines the pitch of the sound we hear. Faster vibrations produce higher-pitched sounds. Children generally have smaller, thinner vocal cords that vibrate much faster than those of adults. As a result, children’s voices sound much higher.
In this activity, you will build your own guitar and explore how frequency changes the pitch of the sound we hear. Time to tune up!
Instructions and Procedures:
Visit https://www.3m.com/3M/en_US/gives-us/education/science-at-home/tune-up-your-rubber-band-guitar/ for the full instructions and explanations.
How does this activity connect to STEM and today's Girl Day theme of Designing Fun: Theme Parks, Games and Music?
This activity was all about designing for music and exploring the science of sound.
The sound made by your instrument was the sound created by the rubber band vibrating when you plucked it, much like how a real guitar string vibrates when played by a musician. As you strummed the strings of your instrument you might have noticed you could feel the vibrations of the rubber band traveling through the tissue box.
The thickness of the rubber band changed the tone of the sound you heard when you plucked it. The thinner strings on a guitar make a higher-pitch sound because they can vibrate more quickly than the thicker ones. The thinner strings on your rubber band guitar are the same – they vibrate more quickly, and we perceive these vibrations as a higher-pitched sound.
When you held the rubber band down the sound changed and eventually there was no sound at all. From this you could observe the sound was created by the rubber band- and when you prevented the rubber band from moving you couldn’t produce any sound.
In addition, in this activity you should have noticed you could change the pitch of the sound by pressing down on the rubber band. When you pressed down on it, the vibration section of the rubber band got shorter. As a result, the pitch of the sound got higher.
3M's Science at Home
Welcome to 3M's Science at Home video series: Fun and educational science experiments designed for students ages 6-12.
These simple, at-home experiments conducted by 3M scientists use common household items and are designed to reinforce core scientific principles. School systems, educators, parents, and caregivers are encouraged to use this educational content in virtual classrooms and at home.
Visit our website at 3M.com/scienceathome for more videos!