I am back with Fab to bring you our next instalment in the sprinkles of imagination campaign, where we are producing great projects that help turn everyday objects into something that your children can use for imaginative play. Fab has sent us lots of lolly sticks to make into fun and creative designs, so we decided to have a go at making a lolly stick harmonica or a popsicle stick harmonica (depended on where in the world you are reading from)!
These were so simple to make, but we have had hours experimenting with what sounds we can make and the boys with all their friends have made a band!
How to make Lolly or popsicle stick harmonica
Lolly or popsicle sticks
Large elastic bands
Small elastic bands or loom bands*
We died some of the lolly sticks* first using watercolour paints, but it would be so much easier to buy coloured lolly sticks (I have stained hands)!
Then take one of your large elastic bands and wrap it length ways round a lolly stick.
Cut small pieces of a paper straw and place them on top before layering another lolly stick on top.
Connect the straws using small elastic bands or loom bands to connect the lolly sticks.
The science of vibration and sound
Vibrations need a medium like air to travel and produce sound that finally reaches our ears. Higher pitched sounds are created by waves with a higher frequency. The pitch, or frequency, produced is equal to the number of times per second (hertz) that the rubber band vibrates. You can change the pitch of your harmonica by moving the lolly sticks or blowing air at different speeds. When the lolly sticks are closer together, the pitch will be higher.
Airflow around the rubber band also affects the sound. The air flowing above and below causes the rubber band between the craft sticks to vibrate due to disturbance in the air. Like most objects, the rubber band has a natural frequency at which it vibrates most easily.
- Does the length or width of the rubber band make a difference in the sound frequency?
- Does changing the size or width of the paper straws have a difference in the sound?
- Does the material (rubber band, string, metal wire) make a difference in vibrations?
The sound of your voice seems to be made louder by humming into the harmonica because the elastic band vibrates with the sound of your voice. Your voice is a complex sound wave that contains a lot of different sounds all put together so that they sound like one sound. Scientists call the different sounds harmonics, and all those harmonics together are what make your voice sound different from someone else’s.
* Please be aware that we do not advise children to put dyed lolly sticks or rubber bands in their mouths
NB: please ensure parental supervision before using any sharp objects