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Make a Harmonica

Want to be a musician for a day? Create your very own homemade harmonica using just a few materials. Learn about how vibrations effect the sound of rubber bands

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Plan

  • What do you know about instruments and how they work?
  • What kind of instrument is a harmonica?
  • What materials do you need for the activity?
  • How long will this activity take to complete?

Do

  • Add your frets – Cut 2 strips off your post it note so that you have a sticky part at the end on both pieces. Wrap them around each end of your popsicle stick and stick the sticky note to itself.
  • Add the vibrating string (elastic) – Take your medium sized rubber band and stretch it length wise over the stick with the 2 piece of post it note.
  • Add your other stick – Put your 2nd stick ontop of the first and use the small rubber bands on either end to keep them together. Make sure that it’s tight enough that your sticks don’t move around, but that you can still move your 2 pieces of post it notes up and down the stick to tune it.
  • Play your tune! – Blow in between the 2 sticks to create some music. Depending on how far or close your pieces of sticky notes are together, it will play a higher or lower note.

Review

  • What would happen if you added more than 2 piece of post it notes?
  • Try adding more than 1 elastic band inside your harmonica, what changes?
  • What did you learn that you didn’t know before?
  • How can you change the pitch of your harmonica?

Materials

  • 2 wide craft sticks
  • 1 medium size rubber band
  • 2 small rubber bands
  • 1 post-it note

Keep it Simple

  • What other homemade instruments could you make? Brainstorm a list of instruments and gather some supplies to make your very own band at home.

Take it Further

  • What do you know about sound waves and vibrations? What other instruments rely on these to work? Explore how sound waves and vibrations travel through the air, liquids, and solids.