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Tin Can Phones

The idea that sound travels through vibrations is not always easy for kids to grasp. This fun science experiment for kids will demonstrate this idea in an exciting and interactive way. Not only will the children have fun putting these tin can phones together—and using them—they will see firsthand the vibrations that sound makes as it travels from one tin can to the next.

Activity Instructions

Step 1: Wash the tin cans and cover any sharp edges with masking tape so that your kids will not cut themselves.

Step 2: Poke a hole in the bottom middle of each can with a nail and hammer.  (Make sure that the holes do not leave any sharp edges. )

Step 3: Help your kids choose a length of string they want to connect the cans, and poke the ends of the string through the holes in the cans. Once the string is inside the can, pull the thread through the can and tie a knot on the end of it, so that it stays anchored in the inside of the can.

Step 4: Once both knots are tied and the cans are secured to the string, have your children each take a can and walk away from one another until the string is pulled taut. When they speak to one another, the sound will vibrate down the string and come out the opposite tin can.

If you're child is creative and enjoys crafts, have them color a design to wrap around the tin can to decorate their new project.

Materials

  • Two Tin Cans
  • Masking Tape
  • String
  • Nail
  • Hammer
  • Paper and Crayons (optional)

Learn more about the science of sound by watching this great video from the children's museum.

Outcome

This activity will show your kids how sound travels by vibration. Fun and interactive, it will illustrate a concept that they may find difficult to grasp otherwise, as sounds and vibrations are experienced with two different senses.