Science Experiments

Make a String Box To Learn About Sound

By: Highlights Editorial
A computer-generated image of a box with rubber bands stretched around the box.
minute activity
Ages 3+
Critical Thinking
Fine Motor Skills

When something vibrates, the surrounding air vibrates too. Vibrations move out in all directions as sound waves, moving the air backward and forward. These waves make your eardrums vibrate, and you hear a sound. When kids make this mini guitar box and pluck the rubber bands, they can see—and hear—how sound travels, and experiment with different kinds of sounds.

What You'll Need

What to Do

  1. Stretch rubber bands of different thicknesses around the box. 

  2. Space the rubber bands an inch apart to resemble the strings of a guitar.

  3. Pluck each string. Notice how the bands that produce the high notes are different from those that produce the low notes.  

Extend the Fun 

For younger kids: Find a box a little bigger, and one a little smaller, than the one you used above. Stretch rubber bands around each box, pluck the bands and notice how the sounds differ depending on how big the box is. Do the boxes remind you of a bass, a cello or a violin? Expand your orchestra with an oatmeal-box drum, a soda-bottle horn (blow air across the top) and a grass whistle (hold a wide blade of grass between your thumbs and blow).

For older kids: Run a damp finger around the rim of a delicate glass half filled with water. The vibrations may ripple the water. Listen to the music. Vary the amount of water in the glass and notice the different tones you can make or fill many glasses and try to play a tune.

Author Photo
By: Highlights Editorial