Musical coat hangers – Science with children – ExpeRimental #8


Was that good? Can I have a go? I probably look really daft doing this, but it’s one of those things you’ve got
to do for yourself to get a sense of why it’s such fun. It’s really
really easy to do. You just tie some string around the end of a coat hanger, and wrap it around your fingers. Stick your fingers in your ears… and bash it against something! I tried this out earlier with my son and
we had been really good time doing it. He really liked that he could just bash things and make a lot of noise around the house without being told to stop, but also because he was genuinely
surprised – and so was I – about the kinds of noises we could make. What does that sound like? It sounds like a bell ringing. A bell ringing? Okay so I’m going to show
you something with these and it’s going to sound… well, we’ll find out! Now hit it! Is it different from when you do it
here? Yeah it’s really low! This is a really fun way to spend some
time with your child. They get to choose what to test out, and it’s really good way to introduce
them, or remind them, about the idea of variables. Those are things that we can change that affect the things that we’re looking at,
or in this case listing to. Shall we try it with something else? See if
we can make different sounds? Okay. Ah, that one? Of course! Let’s have a go then. Where was the sound going? Through the string! Clever boy! Wow! Making a lower sound. So do you think this is going to sound the same or different to the metal one? Different. Why is that? Because it’s plastic! Okay let’s have a test. You can still hardly hear it! Is there anything on the table we could do differently? Okay, so what do you think will happen if
we do that? It probably will make the same noise. Do you think it will? What we’ve got here is at least two variables: the type of string we’re using, and the type of object that we’re bashing. Does that sound different from string? Yeah! So what’s different about the nylon
string and that string? Nylon makes the noise go further than the string. We tested all these different things out. What did you think? It was really surprising when the nylon kept going on and on and on. So it made a good noise? Yeah And what have we learnt about the different thigns we’ve tried today? That different materials make different sounds. Sounds are made when an object vibrates. It might not always look like it, but if an object is making a sound, a part of it must be vibrating. Usually we hear sounds because the
vibration of the object makes the air and it vibrate and those vibrations travel into our ears. When we listen to the coat hanger
through the string, the vibrations travel through the string, and not through the air. That’s why it sounds so different. Sound travels differently through solids, liquids and gasses. String is a solid, so the sound travels differently through the string than it would through the air. Although I kind of understand the science
behind this, I was still really surprised by the different sounds. We had loads of fun doing this and I hope you do too.

5 thoughts on “Musical coat hangers – Science with children – ExpeRimental #8

  1. I guess the next interesting question would be how do the sound waves act when passing through ones finger?
    A finger is both a solid and a liquid. 🙂

  2. Was I the only one who thought it was pretty funny watching a child slamming a coat hanger, attached to string leading up to their ears, against objects?

    looks kinda silly hahaha

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